By Alexis Jenkins
The Dalai Lama will headline The Anwar Sadat Lecture For Peace on May 7 at the Comcast Center.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. He is recognized worldwide as a prominent religious figure and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Dalai Lama’s visit marks his 17th visit to the United States in the past twenty years but his first visit to this university.
“I’m attending the talk because it’s a once in a lifetime chance,” said Margaret Magnaye, a freshman letters and sciences major. “Not many college kids can say that they were able to hear the Dalai Lama speak.”
“In general, the Sadat Lecture is intended to identify individuals who have captured global imagination on issues related to peace. It is intended to celebrate the peace legacy of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat who reversed decades of war to initiate peace and paid with his life,” said Shibley Telhami, Sadat chair.
The Dalai Lama’s lecture is a free-ticketed event that will begin at 10 a.m. Sadat expects 15,000 attendees including students, faculty, staff, and those from the surrounding community. In past years, the Sadat lecture has featured other Nobel Peace Prize recipients such as Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Henry Kissinger and former President Jimmy Carter.
Due to the Dalai Lama’s high demand, the University of Maryland sent him an invitation to speak three years before he accepted and confirmed it, according to Telhami.
In a letter sent by President Loh to the university community he said, “This is a rare opportunity and promises to be a landmark event for the entire campus.”
Although the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist leader, many believe he appeals to a broader range of people both religious and non-religious.
“Non-religion arises because people have a void. They lack ethics. Hopefully they can look at the Dalai Lama’s teachings and find something worthwhile,” said graduate student Mike Le.
Maxine Grossman, a professor in the religious studies department said, “The Dalai Lama represents not only the religious leader of the Tibetan Buddhist people but also an important participant in international dialogue on human rights.”
“His wit, wisdom, and willingness to speak out on the world stage make him an important participant in that discussion,” Grossman said.
As one of the most prominent religious leaders today, the Dalai Lama will no doubt deliver a valuable message in his talk. In past lectures given by his holiness, he focused on promoting the equality of all humans, religious tolerance and understanding, and the annexation of Tibet from China.
Grossman hopes to hear the Dalai Lama discuss China.
“Given the university’s commitment to expanding relationships with China, I think it’s especially important to hear from the leader of a group whose treatment by the Chinese government has been a source of much concern for international observers,” she said.
However, Telhami doesn’t think the talk will be about politics. Previous Sadat lectures have focused more on promoting peace and the understanding that America is a diverse place with diverse people.
“I believe that anyone with an open heart and mind can get something from this,” Magnaye said. “This includes those with different religions. I’m Catholic and my friend is Atheist and we’re both going to see him to hear him talk about one thing: Peace.”
Magnaye said lecture attendees should come to the event with an open mind in order to get the most out of the experience.
“Religion doesn’t matter, but receptiveness does. If people come in looking at it as a religious speech or homily, I think they’re looking for the wrong thing,” said Magnaye.