The latest visit to Madison by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to consecrate the new temple at Deer Park Buddhist Center is attracting plenty of interest this week. The Dane County Coliseum was filled for a public talk by the eminent religious leader last Saturday, while the grounds of the Alliant Energy Center have been busy since with teachings, athletic competitions, and cultural programs for the Tibetan Buddhist community in Wisconsin. The media has been following the visit too, though it's not merely local and religious outlets that are paying attention.
In addition to introducing the talk at the Coliseum last weekend, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle also played host to the Dalai Lama on Monday, welcoming him to the Governor's Mansion in Maple Bluff. This visit captured the attention Radio Free Asia, a private shortwave radio broadcaster and online news service funded by the U.S. government that describes its mission as providing "accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press."
The station broadcasts both on air and online in nine languages, including Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Vietnamese. After Mandarin, the primary language spoken in China, the Tibetan service is the oldest offered by the station, and its broadcasts run second-longest at eight hours per day.
Radio Free Asia was originally founded in the early days of the Cold War as an anti-communist propaganda broadcaster funded by the CIA, and was reincorporated privately in 1996 following the International Broadcasting Act of 1994. Its funding is now administered through the International Broadcasting Bureau, which oversees U.S. government radio and television services around the world. Unsurprisingly, the station's broadcasts are jammed and website blocked regularly by the Chinese government.
A one-minute report from the station follows. Though the voiceover and brief accompanying report are in Tibetan, there are plenty of images of the Dalai Lama greeting and exchanging gifts with the governor.
Radio Free Asia also created a six-minute video report about the public talk at the Coliseum last Saturday, and is likewise narrated in Tibetan. The Dalai Lama remains in Madison through Thursday, July 24, when he will perform the Tenshug long life prayer offering in a public ceremony at the Dane County Coliseum. This is his last scheduled visit to the United States in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which begin on Friday, August 8.