imagining a home for peace

after traveling the world with the dalai lama, victor chan brings his vision for peace & education to life

photo by susanne martin

When I learned last September that the Dalai Lama was coming to Vancouver to speak at a conference about peace and education, I was very excited. Not only because the Dalai Lama was coming to town but also because he was addressing two ideals towards which I have devoted a large portion of my life. I bought tickets for the afternoon session about education but was unable to attend it. I therefore felt a serendipity in my life when I was offered the opportunity to meet Victor Chan, close companion to the Buddhist monk and Founding Director of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education (expected to open in Vancouver in 2009). He is also the author of Tibet Handbook: A Pilgrimage Guide and The Wisdom of Forgiveness, a book of conversations and insights Victor recorded while travelling with the Dalai Lama. 

....Instead of having objects on its walls, the Dalai Lama Centre is designed so that people can come together, have conversations, discuss ideas, have programs that speak to cultivating an emotional and spiritual balance with people. In my travels I have come across institutions and centres that are much more concerned with linking people to people. They aim to create linkages between people on a more spontaneous and kind basis.

So the Dalai Lama centre is kind of a cultural and educational centre that can provide nourishment for both our intellect and our hearts. In that sense it’s not that we are trying to do something that is so different but we are putting elements that speak to us – the need of have good conversation or to watch documentaries, for example – and putting them all under one roof. So that it becomes a kind of cultural bazaar, a cultural smorgasbord.

The idea of a global interconnectedness, of universal compassion, of one world, resonates strongly with me. Particularly as I have often felt handcuffed by the divisions of nationalism, of race, of gender.  Vancouver, with its distinctly Asia-Pacific character, is an appropriate city for The Dalai Lama Centre. A Centre conceived by a Chinese man from Hong Kong in honour of a Tibetan Lama, something that could not happen in China, Hong Kong or Tibet.  One world, indeed.


Sikeena Karmali was born in Nairobi, Kenya to parents of Gujarati descent. She worked in international development and human rights from 1994 to 2004. Her first novel, A House by the Sea, was published by Véhicule Press. She lives in Vancouver and is working on her second novel.


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