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Concordia student to introduce Dalai Lama on Saturday

Submitted Photo Anastasia Young, a senior at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., will introduce the Dalai Lama during the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis on Saturday.

MOORHEAD, Minn. — A Concordia College senior will introduce the Dalai Lama before he speaks at a Nobel Peace Prize Forum on Saturday in Minneapolis.

For religion and nursing major Anastasia Young, the opportunity is “more than once in a lifetime.”

She’ll get two minutes at the podium before Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, gives his talk focusing on faith and peace.

As one of Concordia’s two Peace Scholars — a program that sends students from six colleges founded by Norwegian-American immigrants to study peacemaking in Norway — Young was selected to speak.

Her job is to introduce the spiritual leader of Tibet and Nobel Laureate whose teachings of peace and interfaith understanding have had a profound influence on her.

With such a well-known and inspirational leader, Young said she’s hoping to highlight his qualities and teachings that will resonate with the expected crowd of 3,500 to 4,000 attendees.

“There’s nothing I can say that can make his talk any greater,” she said.

Young said his book, “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths,” was influential on her interfaith work.

“It’s a beautiful understanding of how we need to come together across lines of division to create peace,” she said. “I hope that’s what he’s talking about.”

That message aligns with everything Young is working on in and out of the classroom as one of the school’s interfaith scholars.

In fall 2012, she studied abroad in India where she saw how religion was a huge part of daily life.

“I was able to really see people from different faith traditions coming together to make a difference in their communities,” she said.

She said that interfaith awareness is also alive and well in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

On campus, she’s a part of the Better Together campus interfaith student group, which unites students who practice different religions.

Young also works with an interfaith action group with representatives from mosques, synagogues and congregations throughout the area. She said they are now collaborating on a toiletry drive for local homeless shelters.

She said she hopes to bring an interfaith understanding to the health care industry when she begins practicing as a nurse. While some see her two areas of study as different realms, Young said Concordia has allowed her to explore both areas and bring them together.

As she prepares for Saturday’s forum, Young said she’s reuniting with other Peace Scholars in the Twin Cities. Her mother also traveled to Minneapolis from her hometown of Butte, Mont., to attend the speech.

Young said they decided to attend the forum even before she was selected to give the introduction. She’s never heard the Dalai Lama speak in person before.

“I’ve been practicing my introduction everywhere I go. I’m sure if people see me, they think I’m crazy.”