Natalie McKerjee, Staff Writer

In preparation for the Dalai Lama’s visit to Miami University fall 2010, a Tibetan culture program has been scheduled for March 22-26.

Among the many scheduled events, Tibetan monk Geshe Kalsang Damdul will conduct a prayer flag ceremony, give lectures and hold meditation sessions.

Miami junior Renate Seiwert is president of the Tibetan Culture Program’s sponsor, The Association of Women Students, and became involved with the Tibetan culture.

“We studied abroad in India which is the home of the Tibetan government,” Seiwert said.

Seiwert said she hopes to bring more attention to the political battle she witnessed last semester occurring in Tibet and help establish interest in Miami students to take a stance on the controversial issue.

Damdul, who is part of the Dalai Lama administration, will hold a prayer flag ceremony (which consists of burning incense and praying), give lectures, conduct meditation sessions for faculty and students, discuss Buddhist philosophy and meet with students to discuss the issues between China and Tibet.

Deborah Akers, assistant professor in department of anthropology and a primary coordinator of the Tibetan culture program, said the event would include forums of discussion on topics pertaining to Tibetan culture, as well as film viewings.

“We are hoping to promote a dialogue and understanding about the Tibetan culture,” Seiwert said.

According to Akers, the motivation to have the event was also to give students information regarding the study abroad opportunity.

“The purpose for the Tibetan culture program next week is to serve as a prelude for the Dalai Lama’s visit to campus in October,” Akers said. “It is also intended to make Miami students aware of the Tibetan studies semester abroad program which we offer each fall. Our focus on cultural activities is a perfect means to introduce the Miami community to Tibetan history and tradition.”

Akers hopes students will gain insight on the cultural components of Tibet, as the Tibetan monk Damdul, assistant director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, is coming from Dharamsala, India especially for the event and will be available to meet with students.

As for how these special arrangements were established with Tibet, Akers said plans began more than a year ago.

“The arrangements were made in conjunction with the department of Anthropology at Miami and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, India,” Akers said.

The event’s sponsors include Center for American and World Cultures, Office of International Education, department of comparative religion, Association of Women Students and the Office of Lifelong Learning.