Students share experiences of meeting Dalai Lama
- Students share experiences of meeting Dalai Lama
Office of Tibet, New York
Friday, October 29, 2004
NEW YORK, October 28 - On September 18 His Holiness the Dalai Lama had a
private meeting with five students of Nova Southeastern University, Florida.
Commenting on that meeting in The Knight, NSU newsletter, Dean Brad A.
William, who was with the students, wrote, "One by one the students made me
proud to be their Dean by asking rich, meaningful, and poignant questions."
"I will never forget the Dalai Lama's closing remarks. For a moment, his
normal warm smile became an intense and purposeful look as he slowly began
to gesture to each student. I am 69 years old,' he shared. I belong to the
20th century. But you [pointing to the students], you are of the 21st
century and this century belongs to you. Do what you can to make a
difference. You could have heard a pin drop," the Dean wrote.
"One student appeared somewhat overwhelmed emotionally. Another confided in
me that this had been the single most important moment in his life. For me,
I just had this overwhelming sense of pride; pride in my students, pride in
my school, pride in the fact that education Beyond the Classroom was
authentic and not just a marketing slogan," the Dean concluded.
We reproduce here the personal accounts of the students' experience:
Shruti Salghur: This experience has helped me look forward to a bigger and
greater life filled with hope
It is amazing how simplicity can be powerful and complex and perceptive. The
Dalai Lama exuded this simplicity in an overwhelming and humbling experience
for me. Being part of the privileged few on the VIP student list that had
the unique opportunity to personally engage the Dalai Lama himself was
I remember the sudden gasp of breath that resonated in the stadium when the
Dalai Lama made his initial entrance on the stage. It all seemed surreal,
and as my eyes teared up I felt a surge of happiness and peace within me.
With the conclusion of his serious yet entertaining address to the crowd,
the student VIPs, including myself, made our way past the secret services
and the security guards into a quiet room. We introduced ourselves and shook
His Holiness' hands. We each were given the opportunity to ask a question.
As a student with a great passion and interest for the environment, I chose
to inquire about his views on environmental issues in the developing
countries and the various methods that would help enhance environment
He first stated that environmental education is a key ingredient toward
raising environmental awareness. Second, he affirmed the need for
understanding and taking into consideration the context in which environment
degradation occurred. Therefore, in order to help sustain the natural
resources, the government should play a prominent role facilitating proper
training and education.
While many gathered for his blessings, I sat there thinking of "what have I
done in my short life to have deserved such an unforgettable and enduring
Since then, the Dalai Lama's presence has continued to influence me in every
decision that I make. This experience has helped me look forward to a bigger
and greater life filled with hope. I want to genuinely thank Brad Williams
and April Eldermire for making everything possible. Also, I would like to
thank His Holiness for rejuvenating my life.
Meena Mahkijani:: Before leaving I touched His Holiness' feet, a Buddhist
and Hindu sign of deference, and that was an incredible honor for me to have
The single greatest experience of my life occurred on September 18 when I
was one of five Nova Southeastern University students selected to have an
audience with His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet.
He personally greeted each of us with great warmth and sincerity. He even
remarked on "Tibetan dress," chuba, that I wore in his honor. The Dalai Lama
sat in a circle with us, and wanted to know each of our names. He then posed
to us a question that he received during the session in the main lecture.
"What is your purpose here?"
As a first year medical student, I asked him about how medicine, specially
Western Medicine, can provide the elevation of others. He indicated here, as
well as in the public speech, that it takes more than just medicine to treat
patients. His response included the idea that as physicians, we must be well
first, and have strong and happy spirits in order to be able to treat
During the questions, His Holiness was extremely engaging and spirited. He
laughed heartily and spoke directly to each of us. After the question, I
showed him a red thread from an initiation by him that I had attended in Los
Angeles in 1997. He blessed the thread for me. I also showed him an early
autographed autobiography of my grandfather's, who was a diplomat of the
Government of India in the 1960s. He was quite amazed that I had this item,
and called over the members of his entourage to see it. They were happy to
see it, and read the inscription that was in Tibetan, indicating the book
was signed in 1969. His Holiness kindly signed the book for me as well.
Before, leaving I touched His Holiness' feet, a Buddhist and Hindu sign of
deference, and that was an incredible honor for me to have done.
The entire experience was an absolute dream-come-true. I moved to Fort
Lauderdale from Los Angeles less than two months ago to begin my medical
education at NSU, and to be so lucky to have such an experience so early is
Farheen F. Parvez:: I will always remember to smile, and if people don't
smile back, I will smile again
As I walked through campus, I noticed flyers and posters about the
visitation of his Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama. I had heard of him
before, but I was not exactly sure who he was or why he was famous. I was
debating as to whether I should attend the event on September 18. Luckily, I
was one of the very few students from NSU who was selected to meet His
Although I was pretty much melting for an hour due to heat, I can honestly
say that the Dalai Lama's talk was worth it. He reinforced the universal
message of peace, contentment, anger management, and happiness.
It did not seem to me as if he was just lecturing for the sake of saying
something. It felt as if he was talking to me directly. When I heard His
Holiness speak, I could relate to him personally. From my own experiences, I
have learned that happiness does not come from anything else but true
Although I have encountered disappointments and failures in life, I have
learned to let things go. My mistakes and the mistakes of others have only
made me a stronger and wiser individual.
After His Holiness finished his talk, I had the opportunity to see him
personally. He rose from his seat to greet each of the five students and
Dean Brad Williams. The Dalai Lama made himself comfortable and created a
friendly atmosphere for us. We asked him various questions, and I asked His
Holiness who the most influential people in his life were. He thought about
it for a few moments and told me that his mother is someone he will never
forget because she was always there for him.
He has deep respect for his teachers as well, and for the president of India
that gave him refuge after he was exiled.
His Holiness was humble and extremely kind. he had a great sense of humor,
and his smile was definitely contagious!
My name, Farheen, means "happiness" in Arabic. I will always remember to
smile, and if people don't smile back, I will smile again.
Pya Chayanuwat:: I was totally calmed and touched by his compassion and love
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for giving me the opportunity
to meet His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama. I was nervous when I found
out that we were going to have a private interview. However, during the
whole interview, I was totally calmed and touched by his compassion and
His Holiness expressed the basic human inner values that promote a happy
successful life, which is very dependent on our own inner strength and
self-confidence. He mentioned thatn human affection is an example that no
matter how powerful one individual is, his or her survival and successful
life depend on others. Especially with today's modern economy, the
environmental issues, and the technology, our world continues to become much
smaller. In reality, we are heavily interdependent.
He also discussed a sense of compassion, a sense of caring, and a sense of
concern for others. These attributes would actually widen our mind. he also
added that happiness comes from deep down inside, and not external
facilities or external conditions.
Finally, if we try to increase these basic good human inner values and try
to be a nice person, ultimately it will bring more happier days to our life.
April Eldemire:: I left with a promise for the future
The Dalai Lama is a person that you read about in newspapers and books. A
person who, when talked about, is said to be one of the most revered men in
the world. Through all of this, I have always asked questions like, "What
would it be like to meet His Holiness?" and ""What would I say to him if I
had the chance?" Never in a million years would I expect to get the
opportunity, and through the efforts of President Ray Ferrero, Jr. and Dean
of Students Brad Williams, I had the opportunity of doing just that.
Most of the morning was a blur. I met with four other students in front of
Goodwin Residence Hall, and drove to the VIP section of campus. Traffic was
a challenge, and so we arrived a little later than expected. We were quickly
ushered to our seats, filled with the anticipation of what was to come.
The Dalai Lama appeared and everyone in the crowd applauded with joy. His
talk was captivating, and when it was over we were rushed to the Dalai
Lama's private reception area. It was completely evident that His Holiness
requested to speak to us specifically. To be able to bow in front of him in
welcome and thanks was amazing. I was able to sit right next to him, ask him
a question, and he addressed me personally. I was able to capture all of his
features in detail and listen to him more intently. The most rewarding
moment was when I laughed with him.
At the end of our time, he addressed us, the students, personally. I had the
feeling that the Dalai Lama felt he had a duty, or a calling, to meet with
His last few words were memorable. He told us that it is now our time. It is
our duty to live life with concern and regard for all humankind. We have a
responsibility to love ourselves, and in turn, love others. How profound! I
left with a promise for the future. I will remember that day forever. It was
the greatest experience of my life.
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