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On Global Compassion and Celebrating with the Dalai Lama

photography by: Steven Georges
Karina Hamilton

What do you give the man who has everything? If it’s the spiritually enlightened 14th Dalai Lama, you skip the tie and the cufflinks and aim straight for nothing less than world peace. That’s the inspiration behind the Global Compassion Summit, held July 5-7 at the Honda Center to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, put on by the Dalai Lama’s peace emissary in partnership with UC Irvine, Friends of the Dalai Lama and the Irvine-based Center for Living Peace. Corona del Mar resident Karina Hamilton, director of UCI’s Dalai Lama Scholars Program, gives her insights on the event and what it has meant to work alongside a Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon – or, as he calls himself, “a simple monk from Tibet.”

Coast: What’s it like to plan a birthday party for a world-renowned spiritual leader?
Karina Hamilton: Exhilarating and exhausting. Over the three days, we will have over 30,000 people attending. We’ll have world leaders, celebrity guests and Nobel Laureates. Now that’s a party!
Coast: Tell us about the scholars program.
KH: Thanks to generous donors in Orange County, the first ever Dalai Lama Scholarship was established in 2004 in honor of the first visit to UC Irvine by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Since then, 12 scholars have married the values of ethical leadership, peace and positive global relations with the university’s mission of public service to the community with such projects as “Compassion in Medicine,” “Kindness Month” and the “Peace Flag Project.”
Coast: What has been the biggest realization for you, personal or professional, since taking over the scholars program?
KH: That most students genuinely want to use their talents to help others. I have seen enormous compassion, creativity, commitment and collaboration by the Dalai Lama Scholars. They are changing the world.
Coast: Do you find that college-age people today are more or less in tune than their counterparts of 20 years ago in terms of their understanding of global issues?
KH: College students have far deeper understanding of global issues. Through social media, they can connect instantly with peers around the world on anything from music and food to climate change and freedom from tyranny. They are becoming truly global citizens.
Coast: Hard to believe the Dalai Lama is 80. The guy doesn’t have any wrinkles. Do you think he has a secret stash of Botox and La Mer, or is utter compassion and joy really the secret?
KH: His Holiness the Dalai Lama is truly an amazing person; his laughter and sense of humor are contagious. I do believe that compassion and joy are the fountain of youth, as well as a commitment to helping others. Inner peace creates beauty inside and out.
Coast: OK, I’m dying to know: What do you wear to the Dalai Lama’s birthday bash? Showing up in Chanel might be too much, but Donna Karan is a Buddhist, so …
KH: Tough question! Haven’t planned that out yet but I do know I will need comfortable shoes.

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