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New Orleans did win the lottery by scoring a visit from one of the most influential people in the world! We were lucky enough to have the Dalai Lama in town for a few days.

A picture on the city’s tourism Facebook page shows the Dalai Lama with city leaders wearing a New Orleans Pelicans hat, and he’s holding a “Follow your NOLA” shirt.

While many people thought it was a cool way to welcome the leader, others say the city was using his holiness as a billboard to promote the city’s new campaign.

(News with a Twist – 5/20/13)

News with a Twist

Dalai Lama’s Tulane commencement address

On a historic weekend in New Orleans, the Dalai Lama spread his message to citizens and college graduates alike: “Try to create a more peaceful world. That means a more compassionate world.”

Saturday’s commencement for Tulane graduates was one of the Dalai Lama’s final stops in the city. Preston Trahan made sure he and 14 of his friends were front row for the occasion.

“For a man that’s so worshiped by millions for his peace and tranquility, I’m blessed to be here,” Trahan said.

He certainly knows a thing or two about His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama: “He was chosen [by] the 13th [Dalai Lama] at the age of 2. He’s written 72 books; almost a book a year.”

Trahan and dozens of others in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome were ready to take in every word.

“Hope means something good. In spite of difficulties you must keep optimism and self confidence,” he told the graduates.

The Dalai Lama gave powerful messages all weekend long and even gave some insight into his life. He says if he wasn’t the chosen one, he would have been an engineer.

It was a full weekend of fascinating words and wisdom. Something people here won’t soon forget.

“My age already, is nearly 78,” His Holiness said. “Next, another 10 years: 88. Then, most probably, another 10 years: 98. So, I promise: my body, speech, and mind I dedicate to the wellbeing of others so hopefully your honorary degree will not spoil. Thank you! Bye bye!”

It’s time to go out with a bang.  Years of hard work for Tulane University graduates can finally pay off.  Of course, a graduation in New Orleans would not  be complete without a second line.  And you probably haven’t seen his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama raising the roof with his umbrella.

Graduates Ariana and Janine say, “Everyone loved it.  It was so exciting.”

Joseph Molinary adds, “Awesome!”

Natalia Franco adds, “Wonderful!”

Jodi Freedman, a mother of a Tulane graduate says, “I cried.  I thought the ceremony was beautiful.”

Freedman couldn’t be more happier for her daughter, perhaps, even a bit envious.  She adds, “I absolutely wish the Dalai Lama spoke at my ceremony.”

It’s a ceremony these students will never forget.  The pomp and circumstance, the pageantry of it all, and as they file into their seats, the transition from student to real life sinks in.  In a year that’s seen the bombings in Boston, the shootings at Sandy Hook, and the Mother’s Day shooting in the 7th Ward on Frenchman Street, these students could use a renewed sense of hope.

The Dalai Lama says, “Now you start your real life.  It could be more complicated.  Difficulties.  You must keep optimism and self-confidence.  Very important.”

Sure, his holiness admits he’s never attending a single day of class, “I think my knowledge compared to your knowledge is almost zero.”

But his insight is life-changing.  The Dalai Lama says, “Think in a more global level and try to create a more peaceful world.  That makes a more compassionate world.”

It’s a big deal to have an honorary figure like the Dalai Lama giving you best wishes at your graduation speech.  But if it wasn’t for the students, faculty and staff at Tulane’s social work program, he wouldn’t have been here.  Last summer, 14 students worked with Tibetan refugees in northern India, and at the same time, Tulane University secured the Dalai Lama’s visit to New Orleans.

Katie Templet, a graduate of Tulane’s Social Work program says, “We did art projects with kids and young monks and we saw Ama Adhe, who was a prisoner in Chinese Tibetan camps.  Their sense of humanity is so amazing.”

And how about a sense of humor?

The Dalai Lama says, “This hat not mine. From president. So now I return to you.”

It’s a day of memories they’ll cherish in the years to come.  How many people can say they took a selfie with the Dalai Lama?

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Want to know the secret to more love and happiness in your life?  How about being in the presence of the Dalai Lama?  It’s his first trip to New Orleans.  People flocked to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Friday morning to catch a glimpse of his holiness.  Twist reporter Deepak Saini has the story.

Serene and peaceful, the Himalayas that tower the Tibetan landscape are just as stunning as the Dalai Lama himself.  To catch him in your sight is just as breathtaking.  So what is he doing in New Orleans.

The Dalai Lama jokes, “When you receive an invitation with some sort of free ticket, then declining that invitation is foolish.”

It’s East meets West.  After all, when do you ever see a monk using an iPAD?

Dave McBurnett, who drove to see his holiness from Coconut Grove, Florida says, “We need all the positive energy we can get in New Orleans.  He definitely brings that.”

New Orleans could use a sense of peace right now.  Less then a week after the Mother’s Day shooting in the Seventh Ward, the Dalai Lama offered his condolences.

The Dalai Lama says, “The real gun control, control of gun, ultimately from here, here, you see (points to his heart).  You must educate.”

You can’t help but be curious about the Dalai Lama.  He’s one of the most influential people in the world.   But how much do we actually know about him?  It’s time for a pop quiz.

(Reporter gives attendees a pop quiz)

As Tibet yearns for independence from China, its people look to their spiritual leader, and so do we.

The Dalai Lama says, “It’s very important to make clear all these sad things, negative things, meantime you should provide people basis of hope.”

After all, striving for love, compassion and peace is universal.

On Saturday, May 18th, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to talk at the UNO Lakefront Arena.  His holiness will also be speaking at Tulane University’s graduation ceremony where he’ll receive an honorary degree.

He’ll also be speaking at tulane’s graduation ceremony where he’ll receive an honorary degree.

Tibetan monks are in New Orleans making an elaborate sand mandala at the Ernest Morial Convention Center to commemorate his holiness, the Dalai Lama’s visit to New Orleans.

News with a Twist’s Kenny Lopez takes a look at this sand mandala -making tradition.

DALAI LAMAThe Dalai Lama will be in town Thursday. As the Sand Mandala prepare for the world-renowned spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama says he is coming with a message of peace.

He will speak at three public events, including Tulane University’s commencement, where he will also receive an honorary degree. Then, he will speak at a conference titled, “Resilience: Strength Through Compassion and Community” at the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center on Friday.

On Saturday, his second talk, titled “Strength Through Connection,” will be held at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.

The Friday and Saturday talks are sold out, but get the latest tickets information by visiting

monksThis week, Tibetan Buddhist monks are making an elaborate Sand Mandala at the convention center to mark the first visit of the Dalai Lama to New Orleans.

Work on the sand painting began Tuesday morning.  It will be finished on Friday — just hours before it is poured into the Mississippi River as part of the ceremonies for the Dalai Lama.