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UAlbany students and professors explore Tibet this summer

Dahna Bozarth, Anthony DeBlasi, Peter Braden, Durae Van Wie and Charles Hartman


Left to right: Durae Van Wie, Anthony DeBlasi, Peter Braden, Dahna Bozarth and Charles Hartman

Like most college students, Dahna Bozarth, Durae Van Wie, and Peter Braden are planning their summer vacations. But unlike many college students who will spend the summer in their hometowns, these UAlbany undergraduates will join several classmates and two professors on an exciting 19-day journey to Tibet.

To prepare for the trip, Associate Professor Anthony DeBlasi and Professor Charles Hartman of the Department of East Asian Studies are teaching History and Culture of Traditional Tibet. Through the course, DeBlasi says, “we are exploring the intimate connections between the rugged Tibetan geography, Tibet’s distinctive social organization, the political institutions that evolved there prior to the 20th century, and how Tibetan values have been expressed in its visual and literary arts.”

Dahna, Durae, and Peter enjoy the course. Peter, a junior double majoring in history and East Asian Studies, notes, “After reading about the exploits of Srong-brstan sgam-po, a Tibetan king who supposedly brought Buddhism to the country, and the dGe-lug-pa, the Yellow Hats, the Buddhist order to which the Dalai Lama belongs, it will be exciting to see their homeland in person.”

For sophomore psychology major Durae, who hails from Cato, N.Y., learning about the Tibetan lifestyle “is something that will help me a lot during the trip. I’m still not completely sure what to expect, but I am excited about all of it.”

“I know it will be the experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”White Plains native Dahna who double majors in East Asian Studies and history with an Asian concentration, “cannot wait to see the Tibetan people. To actually be able to see their everyday lives and how they are similar and different from us will be very interesting. I am really interested in the monasteries and the art, as well.”

DeBlasi, who visited Tibet in 2002, was “impressed both by the friendliness of the people and by the strength of Buddhist piety among them.” He finds “the power of the Tibetan landscape” more difficult to describe, although he acknowledges, “I experienced the strange sensation of feeling the mountains simultaneously remote and intimate.”

The group leaves Albany on July 6 and returns the 25th. The summer course is sponsored in part by funding from the Freeman Foundation, whose grant further enriches the University’s East Asian Studies program and covers the costs of travel, lodging, food, visas, and other expenses.

Map of East AsiaThe trip will begin with a few days in Beijing, then continue on to Tibet, where they will visit the historical and religious sites in Lhasa, the capital; Tsedang; Gyantse, Shigatse, and Namtso. Students will participate in group discussions, hear site specific lectures, take notes and acquire materials directly related to the research topic each has chosen. Upon their return home each student will complete a 20-page research paper. “I feel so lucky to be chosen for this trip, said Dahna Bozarth. “I know it will be the experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”

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