OXFORD, Ohio — A Chinese student challenged the Dalai Lama's version of conditions in Tibet, saying Thursday she has been there recently.
During a question-and-answer session at Miami University in southwest Ohio, 21-year-old Yue You told him she didn't see the oppression the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has spoken out about.
"Tibet is peaceful," she said, adding that she saw people who seemed to be doing fine economically.
He responded by noting protests this week in western China by Tibetan students, reportedly over unconfirmed plans to use the Chinese language exclusively in their schools.
"These (demonstrations) do not come from happiness," the Dalai Lama said. "Something is lacking ... some grievance there."
He told the engineering student that she "must investigate" what has happened in Tibet during the last 60 years – he fled in 1959 after the Chinese crushed an uprising – and its entire history.
"He didn't answer me," You told The Associated Press afterward. "I'm not the speaker for the Chinese government or anything, but I have a lot of questions for him."
The exchange came after the Dalai Lama got a firsthand look at Miami's efforts to use high-tech means to preserve ancient Tibetan culture, and before his sold-out appearance at Millett Hall. The school said about 10,500 people, nearly all of them students who paid $5 each, packed its basketball arena for the afternoon lecture on ethics.
The southwest Ohio school has been digitalizing Tibetan language and documents while working with an institute of Buddhist studies in India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile. He has decried what he sees as Chinese government efforts to erode Tibet's cultural identity.
Language lessons – with audio pronunciations – are available online through the program, as well as ancient documents. Students also created a virtual reality version of a mandala, a colorful symbolic map used for meditation, for the Dalai Lama to see with 3-D goggles.
"Very helpful," he said of Miami's preservation efforts. "We appreciate it."
He's hardly unaware of such technology – the Miami online program has a link to the Dalai Lama's Twitter social media account.
He also met members of the Miami Indian tribe, which once lived in the Oxford region. He tapped his fingers against his robe in time with their performance of a tribal song.
The school presented the Dalai Lama with an honorary doctorate on the second day of his first visit to Ohio in more than a decade. In Cincinnati on Wednesday, he received an award at a sold-out luncheon for promoting peace and freedom.