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Following are several useful links for information online:

Ticket information for Oct. 18 & 19 talks: www.wcsudalailama.org/tickets.html

Dalai Lama event information on the WCSU website: www.wcsudalailama.org

Information about DNKL: www.dnkldharma.org

Website of the Office of Tibet, New York: www.tibetoffice.org


Official website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: www.dalailama.com

Western and DNKL prepare to host historic event for the university and community

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit in October to WCSU will mark the culmination of more than two years’ intensive preparatory work in uncommon and productive cooperation between the university and Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace) in Redding.  Long before Western and DNKL representatives signed the formal agreement in January 2012 confirming arrangements for His Holiness’s visit, they were working out the myriad details that required attention to plan a historic event posing logistical challenges on a par with those for hosting a U.S. President.

Coordinator of University Events Helen Bechard, who has served as liaison between the WCSU-DNKL steering committee and the Office of Tibet/New York in planning for the visit, observed that the joint committee began meeting on a monthly basis in August 2010, with subcommittees formed to discuss specific organizational tasks including the event program, ticket sales, sponsorships, hospitality and website publicity. Transportation for the 3,500 guests expected to attend each of His Holiness’s two talks, staging arrangements in the Feldman Arena at the O’Neill Center on the Westside campus, and security provisions at the event site have posed especially significant challenges in the planning process.

Bechard recalled the importance to the team’s preparations of an October 2010 trip by university and DNKL representatives to observe a five-day visit by the Dalai Lama to Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., which has hosted periodic visits by His Holiness since the 1980s and maintains a center for Tibetan studies. “The people at Emory planning that visit were very gracious and gave us access to everything we could ask – questions on all levels from media setups to volunteer organization, to logistical and security issues the university had to contend with,” Bechard said.

“That visit provided invaluable preparation,” she added. “When we received notification that we were granted the opportunity to host His Holiness and went down to the Office of New York/Tibet to talk with Lobsang Nyandak (representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas), he listened to our questions and said, ‘You’ve done your homework!’”

Dr. John Briggs, professor of writing, linguistics and creative process and member of the steering committee, agreed that the opportunity to witness and learn about the planning for the Emory event made a crucial contribution to the WCSU-DNKL preparations for the October visit to Danbury.

“We got to see what worked well and what worked less well in connecting the Dalai Lama directly to his audience,” Briggs observed. “It gave us a unique opportunity to develop an esprit among key members of our own planning team. We talked late into the night, sharing observations and insights about what we were seeing.  In the nearly two years since that trip, this spirit has helped us to solve many problems that have arisen in our work.”

DNKL Board President Susan Altabet, also a member of the steering committee, observed that the cooperative work on preparations for His Holiness’s visit has proven “a joy, privilege and valuable learning experience. WCSU’s expertise in event planning and student needs has been enhanced by DNKL’s expertise in Tibetan Buddhism and access to His Holiness and his associates. We have all come together into one steering committee with a policy always to reach consensus, which has worked beautifully. It is wonderful to see how people who share in this work can give rise to new ideas about making the world a better place and providing enriching opportunities for all people.”

Cover photo: Coordinator of University Events Helen Bechard (far right) has been preparing for this event since August 2010.
Above photo: Western, DNKL and the Office of Tibet/New York representatives gather for the signing of the agreement.

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