Emory Tibetan Studies Program celebrates 12 years

By Kim Urquhart | Emory Report | March 29, 2012

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His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama with students from the Emory Tibetan Studies Program. Photo by Tenzin Choejor.

Since its inception 12 years ago, the Emory Tibetan Studies Program has immersed almost 150 students in the academic and cultural fabric of Dharamsala, India, the capital of the Tibetan exile community and home to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.

The program's 12th anniversary was commemorated in early March with a celebration that included President James Wagner and Tibetan dignitaries, along with current students and past participants.

"The Dharamsala spring program has educated many, many students, not just from Emory but students who come from other universities, which is one of the many strong points of this program," says Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership. And, he adds, "The quality of the program and the students has made a very strong and positive impression on the Tibetan community in Dharamsala."

Established in 2001, the study abroad program was the first manifestation of the Emory-Tibet Partnership. The semester-long program fully immerses American students in the life of the Tibetan exile community where they study language, Tibetan culture and religious practice, and have an opportunity to do Tibet-related research in the community.

It was President James Wagner's first visit to Dharamsala, India.

It was President James Wagner's first visit to Dharamsala, India. Photo by Tenzin Choejor.

The visit was Wagner's first to Dharamsala. In a private audience with the Dalai Lama, where the discussion ranged from politics to education to human rights, Wagner extended an invitation to Emory's Presidential Distinguished Professor to return to campus. (Those details are still under discussion.)

"Emory's Tibetan Studies Program along with (other Emory-Tibet Partnership programs) help us explore the complementary ways of Eastern and Western learning and understanding," says Wagner. "The gracious hospitality shown to our Emory delegation in Dharamsala made evident the fact that our partnership is highly valued there as well."