A Concordia student devoted to interfaith work and peace building will introduce the Dalai Lama when he speaks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis on March 1.
It’s a “better than once in a lifetime” experience for Anastasia Young ’14, Butte, Mont., and a fitting honor for the religion and nursing major.
“I get butterflies just thinking about it,” she says.
Last summer, Young participated in the Peace Scholar program. Held in Norway, the annual program deepens students’ understanding of issues regarding conflict, war and peace.
Young’s research during this program and much of her undergraduate emphasis has revolved around interfaith dialogue. A semester studying social justice in India introduced her to the topic. She became one of Concordia’s first interfaith scholars and participates in Better Together, the campus interfaith student group.
Those passions make Young a perfect fit for introducing the Dalai Lama, who emphasizes the importance of interfaith dialogue and harmony, says Dr. Michelle Lelwica, professor of religion.
“Anastasia has heartfelt commitment to working for peace on all levels – globally and locally, within herself and in the world,” she says. “Not only that, but she shares in common with the Dalai Lama a personal warmth and character that is intelligent, compassionate, grounded, flexible, and always ready for a good laugh.”
During one of her religion courses, Young read the Dalai Lama’s “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths.” Already a fan of the religious and political leader, she was inspired by his claim that all of the world’s religions have the cultivation of compassion at their core.
It’s this idea that she will accentuate when she introduces the world leader to a Minnesota audience.
“He sees everyone as part of the human family,” she says. “People are not only defined by their differences. I really agree with him that interfaith dialogue can lead to a more peaceful world.”
As for Young, the weekend’s honor is one more way to bring attention to a passion close to her heart. In addition to introducing the Dalai Lama, she will present a paper on interfaith at an American Academy of Religion conference later this spring.
“The innovative and exciting programs we have at Concordia open doors for students in ways that we would never have dreamed possible,” says Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, associate professor of religion.