UNI prepares for His Holiness the Dalai Lama - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI prepares for His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- The University of Northern Iowa will host its most prominent guest in its 130 year history next week. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will take part in a panel discussion as well as hold a keynote address, speaking to more than 5,000 people.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader to many Tibetan Buddhists. He is also known for being the head of the government in exile based in India. His Holiness and 80,000 others were forced to flee Tibet after an uprising in their homeland in 1959

China claims the territory is theirs, but His Holiness hopes to one day return home.

"So far dialogue failed, but that does not mean in future no possibility, I don't think. We wait now 51 years. Now another 10, 20 years we can wait," said the 14th Dalai Lama.

UNI Spokesperson Jim O'Conner says the appearance was made possible by an ongoing program at the university.

"Several years ago we started a plan in progress to invite leaders from the nation and the world here to UNI to bring those perspectives. For instance we have former secretary of state, we've had current secretary of education, We've had the ambassador to the US from Saudi Arabia and now His Holiness the Dalai Lama," said O'Conner.

Two Tibetan monks are constructing a sand mandala inside the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center to welcome his holiness. It's a unique spiritual work or art built one grain of sand at a time.

"We feel it's vital to stress education so when His Holiness the Dalai Lama is here he will be talking about the importance of education and its role in helping people make the world a better place to live in," said O'Conner.

Security for the Dalai Lama's trip will be tight. UNI Police are working with the State Department and their security. It will be very similar to a presidential visit.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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