Demystifying the Dalai Llama

Words by Dana Rose Falcone

Art by Victoria Shum

Though students rushed to buy One World concert tickets, they seem less sold on attending other Common Ground for Peace events.

On Sept. 7, Ilana Kaye sat in front of her MacBook, clicking refresh until 2 p.m. The senior advertising major waited anxiously to purchase a ticket to see more than 20 artists perform in the Carrier Dome at next month’s One World concert. The artists include Dave Matthews, Counting Crows, Nas, and Nelly Furtado.
Though Syracuse University students typically flock to buy tickets to see big-name performers (like this semester’s sold-out Juice Jam and 2010’s sold-out Block Party), One World differs from past concerts in that it boasts a world leader and peace ambassador, the Dalai Lama. As a result, the 5,000-ticket student presale sold out in an hour and 20 minutes.
“When I first found out he was coming,” Kaye says, “it was basically, ‘Holy shit, the Dalai Lama is coming’.”
Though now enthusiastic, freshman information management and technology major Giselle Gilmore found out about the concert after many of her peers.
“I found out about it late, and the concert was sold out by the time I went to buy tickets,” Gilmore says. “I’m not sure why he’s coming to Syracuse though. I have no idea.”
Students, though excited for the concert, seem to know little else about the show’s accompanying events. “I don’t really know what else is going on,” Kaye says.
His Holiness’s two-day visit, called Common Ground for Peace, begins Oct. 8, when he will sit on two peace panels in Goldstein Auditorium. The talks, titled The Arab Spring and Shifting the Global Conscious, will promote an agenda of international peace at a time when the world seems more divided than ever before. NBC News national and international correspondent Ann Curry will moderate the two discussions. If you can’t grab one of the 1,500 seats in Goldstein, you’ll be able to watch a broadcast of the panels on closed-circuit televisions located around campus.
On Oct. 9, right before the concert, the Dalai Lama will give a public talk about resolving conflict through global awareness. Comedian Whoopi Goldberg will emcee the concert that follows, which is expected to be the largest gathering of its kind in the region.
The artists hail from around the world and will perform a song together written exclusively for the event, dedicated to His Holiness. Ticket proceeds will benefit international relief efforts and fund a new scholarship in memory of Bassel Al Shahade, the SU graduate student who was killed in Syria this summer.
Kaye credits SU’s strong alumni network with the Dalai Lama’s visit. “We have really rich alumni who have connections,” she says. And she’s partially right: SU Trustee Samuel Nappi invited the Dalai Lama to Syracuse after traveling in India this summer with His Holiness’s personal peace emissary, Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden.
Nappi founded One World Community Foundation, the organization responsible for sponsoring and producing the Common Ground for Peace. The One World Community Foundation believes “peace is a deliberately achieved state that people throughout the world must constantly maintain,” according to its website. The peace forum and concert in Syracuse represent One World Community Foundation’s first public venture to support those ideals.
Gilmore believes that the Dalai Lama’s goal of peacefully solving world conflicts reflects SU’s ideals and will help bring together the university and the Syracuse community.
Kaye also hopes to see the Dalai Lama’s talk bring the campus closer together and to help students achieve open-mindedness. “We kind of get stuck in our ways,” she says. “It’s a very diverse school, but also very separated. Through his mission for peace, people who don’t understand others’ backgrounds can accept each other for their differences and make it a more connected campus.”

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