Winter 2011: Of Note

group photo

A Decade of Tibetan Studies

By Dana Tottenham 98C

Emory’s Tibetan Studies Program celebrated its tenth anniversary this fall with a reunion of more than thirty alumni, scheduled during the visit of Emory Presidential Distinguished Professor His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.

The spring semester program in Dharamsala, India, is the oldest continuous manifestation of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, founded in 1998 to bring together the best of the Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions for their mutual enrichment. During the late 1990s, Dean Robert Paul, religion professor Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, leaders in the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics and the Center for International Programs Abroad, and founding director Tara Doyle collaborated to develop the program.

Since its inaugural year, the program has hosted 123 students from Emory and more than forty American and Canadian universities. During their time in Dharamsala, participants attend a private class taught by the Dalai Lama, who has supported the exchange from the beginning.

“I can absolutely say the students who go on this program have some of the most profound experiences of any students who study abroad,” says Philip Wainwright, associate dean for international and summer programs, pictured above with reunion attendees.

“Though it may sound over the top, I can’t even begin to imagine life where I am now without having spent time on the roof [of the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics] learning about Tibetan history, doing yoga exercises in the sunset with my fellow students, playing basketball and hanging out with my Tibetan friends, being packed like sardines for [the Dalai Lama] teachings, and gazing out at the Himalayas under a blanket of twinkling stars in a clear sky,” wrote Samit Shah 03C, pictured above, on a blog dedicated to the Tibetan Studies Program. “The program inspired me to change directions away from biology and medicine and pursue economic development and international relations.”

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