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UC Merced presents 14th Dalai Lama with Spendlove Prize

The 14th Dalai Lama greets UC Merced leaders and special guests during a virtual presentation of the Spendlove Prize on Sunday direct from India.
The 14th Dalai Lama greets UC Merced leaders and special guests during a virtual presentation of the Spendlove Prize on Sunday direct from India.

Several dozen special guests were honored with a chance to participate in a live virtual ceremony with his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on Sunday night as he received the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance from UC Merced.

The once-in-a-lifetime event was streamed direct from India where the Dalai Lama greeted his Merced presenters and spoke straightforwardly about his views on humanity and the world for about an hour.

“Different color, different religious faith, different country — that is not important,” the Dalai Lama told his guests. “What is important is that we are all human beings who have to live together on this planet.”

Another showing of the presentation will take place on Monday, Sept. 26, in the Dr. Vikram and Priya Lakireddy Grand Ballroom at UC Merced. It will include a pre-reception for guests at 5:30PM, followed by the pre-recorded showing at 6:30PM.

The Dalai Lama is one of the most recognizable faces of Buddhism. He received the Spendlove Prize in a virtual ceremony prior to the observance of the International Day of Peace  on Wednesay, Sept. 21. This year’s theme is “End racism. Build peace.”

His Holiness talked about the importance of protecting the environment, pursuing education, celebrating warmheartedness as a core tenant of our humanity, achieving inner peace and religious harmony, and attaining complete freedom and genuine autonomy of the Tibetan culture, identity and language.

He shared with guests a spiritual blueprint on how mankind can achieve peace and harmony in the world.

One highlight of the event featured questions asked directed from a handful of young UC Merced students. Shiraz Noorani, a Humanities researcher, asked about the world’s racial and societal challenges in the 21st century.

Alisha Nesslage, a philosophy student from Denair, asked about the environment and humanity’s shared responsibility to the Earth that will have an expected 8 billion inhabitants this year.

Another student, a psychology major, asked about the “compassionate mind” and how a person can achieve peace of mind. Another asked how people can find joy and happiness amid so much pain and loss in the word.

The event was hosted by Nigel Hatton, associate professor of Literature and Philosophy.

UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sanchez Munoz started things off by greeting the Dalai Lama, saying: “Each year we honor a person who has served as a role model and inspiration, and you most certainly have. This year’s Spendlove Prize winner is truly a global leader, a voice for the underrepresented, and a force for good in a troubled world.”

Sherrie Spendlove of the Prize Selection Committee read from a letter she wrote to the Dalai Lama in 2010 when his Holiness was first contacted about the possibility of joining the list of Spendlove Prize award winners.

“Your holiness has much to teach us about how a group that is treated with prejudice and injustice, even violence and genocide can resist in the most positive, life-affirming way by returning violence with non-violence and hatred with love,” Spendlove said. “Your message of compassion and kindness models a new way of creating peace and understanding in the world far different from our usual Western modes of a war-inspired forced peace.”

In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

To date, His Holiness has traveled to more than 67 countries across six continents, authored or co-authored over 110 books and received more than 150 awards, honorary doctorates and prizes in recognition of his messages of peace and other concepts.

He is the 15th recipient of the Spendlove Prize, uniting him with his friend, former President Jimmy Carter, as distinguished Spendlove laureates, along with past recipients Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum; and human rights activist and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nadia Murad, among others.

Those interested in attending Monday’s presentation of the video and reception must register online  prior to the event. Search online for the web page Engage.UC Merced, and click on the Upcoming Events tab to find the registration link.

Anyone seeking more information can send an email to [email protected].

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