Video by Kayla Drake
KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer
Most Americans have heard the title “Dalai Lama,” but some may not know the people he leads are under persecution.
To this day Tibet still experiences suppression of its long-standing Buddhist traditions because of strict religious licenses that must be obtained to practice in Buddhist temples.
Tibetan monks came to campus Thursday, “to raise awareness about their monastery and the persecution of Tibetans,” associate professor of anthropology Christina Pomianek said.
In 2016 China’s current president, Xi Jinping said “Religious groups… must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China.”
The monks that came to campus are refugees staying in a monastery in southern India.
Teacher, or “lama” as Buddhists call it, Geshe Monlam Gyatso said the money raised from crafts they sold on campus will go to support 2,300 monks’ food, health care and housing fees.
“We are here to make a contribution to healing and peace by sharing the Tibetan Buddhist religion and traditions,” Gyatso said.
The event was put on by the InterCultural Experience club and the Chaplain’s Office.
President of the InterCultural Experience club, Caitlyn Gorman said she wanted the monks’ story to be told because it is something students do not see in mainstream media a lot.
“We get wrapped up in our college culture – if it’s not right in front of us or in our textbook, we don’t know what’s going on,” Gorman said.
This is the monks’ third year coming to campus. Thursday they sold goods, chanted a prayer under the Spellmann Center’s clock tower and engaged in a monastery style debate in the Library and Academic Resource Center’s theater.
Pomianek said inviting the monks to campus is a great way to “elevate Lindenwood’s cultural competence.”
The InterCultural Experience club is for students with anthropology and sociology majors. The organization tries to bring culture to campus and expose students to diversity.
As an anthropology professor, Pomianek said her program’s focus is on “describing, explaining and understanding cultural behavior at all times and places.”
Last year the club had a Dia de Muertos stand at Dark Carnival, celebrating the Mexican holiday translated as day of the dead. This year the club plans to visit the Lakota Native American tribe in South Dakota.