Mayor Kevin Faulconer welcomed the Dalai Lama to San Diego Thursday morning and will introduce him at a public speaking event at UC San Diego (UCSD) Friday.
Faulconer greeted the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists as he arrived on the tarmac of Lindbergh Field. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will speak at a sold-out public graduation event at UC San Diego, for a lecture dubbed "Embracing the Beauty of Diversity in our World."
He is set to speak at UCSD at 10 a.m. Friday on RIMAC Field.
“As a City that celebrates its diversity, spirit of collaboration and environmental leadership, we are proud to welcome one of the world’s great champions for peace and understanding to San Diego,” Faulconer said, in a statement.
The Dalai Lama will also speak at the UC San Diego all-campus commencement Saturday.
Gyatso was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Tibet and became the first Nobel laureate recognized for his concern for environmental problems, said city officials.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an inspiration to people across the globe and we are honored to have him return to our city, added Faulconer.
The Dalai Lama has traveled to more than 62 countries spanning six continents and has received dozens of awards for his message of peace, nonviolence, interreligious understanding, universal responsibility, and compassion, said city officials.
In 2012, Gyatso also visited San Diego to speak at events organized by UCSD, San Diego State University and the University of San Diego.
“We are honored to host His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at UC San Diego and thankful that he will share messages of global compassion with our graduates and their families, as well as with a broad public audience,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, in a statement.
Last February, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) denounced the decision to have the Dalai Lama speak at the university's commencement ceremony.
"CSSA strongly objects to any behavior of spreading inflammatory, politically offense speech which slanders and belittles Chinese history, proceed to influence China's international image with unknown motivation," announced the group, in a statement posted by The Triton.
China and the Dalai Lama have a politically tense relationship, which is reflected in the response from UCSD's international student population.
In 2016, 46 percent of the undergraduate class identified with Asian ethnicity, according to the university's data.