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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Profs discuss religion, family values of Tibet

September 21, 2007

By Danielle Gorman
Lehigh University, The Brown and White

Two Lehigh professors presented their research on Tibet at the first of
several lectures leading up to his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s July
2008 visit to campus.

Anne Meltzer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of
earth and environmental science, along with Peter Zeitler, professor of
earth and environmental science, hosted “Visual Tibet: It’s Natural
History, Landscape and People” Tuesday in preparation for the Dalai
Lama’s visit in July 2008.

Meltzer and Zeitler began research in Tibet in 1998 with Lehigh and
other institutions.

Meltzer’s work included installing 70 seismometers throughout southeast
Tibet. Zeitler studied surface processes such as erosion.

Although the primary goal of their visits was scientific research,
Meltzer and Zeitler spent a large amount of time observing Tibetan
culture and religion.

“Spirituality is really a part of their daily lives, and it is visible
everywhere you go,” Zeitler said.

The country hosts large monasteries, prayer wheels that spin in streams
and prayer flags that dot the landscape.

“There are prayer flags at every pass,” Meltzer said. “Every time we
reached a pass, our drivers would get out of the car to add a prayer
stone and say a prayer.”

Meltzer and Zeitler worked with Tibetan guides and Chinese translators
to make their way through dangerous, and sometimes impassable, roadways
in the Tibetan countryside.

Meltzer said in addition to a harsh environment, Tibetans face other
common issues

“Families here, like anywhere, worry about raising their children and
how to make their children’s lives better than their own,” Meltzer said.

The professors talked about the Free Tibet campaign, a program whose
goal is to restore Tibetan sovereignty after being a part of China since
the 1950s.

Sarah Morgan, ’08, said the lecture was important because students do
not know what life is like in other areas of the world.

“I think a lot of students, when asked, would express concern for Tibet,
but don’t actually know the extent of what is going on,” Morgan said.
“Everyone is quick to support a ‘Free Tibet’ but when presentations like
this are given there is not always the support there should be.”

Meltzer said many of Tibet’s issues may be intensified in the future.
Tibet is a place of transition, shifting from a life of subsistence to
industrial and service. However, most culture is grounded by the
deep-rooted beliefs of its inhabitants.


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