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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Tibetan Buddhist monks perform a traditional welcome dance at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday. The visit was part of a nine-month U.S. tour, the fourth such tour for the group.

  • Yeshi Rabgyal answers students’ questions during Thursday’s program. At left is Ivy Tech philosophy instructor Jacob Witucki.

Friday, October 05, 2018 1:00 am

Tibetan monks visit Ivy Tech

Teaching, dance part of US tour sharing culture

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Drumbeats sounded at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday as philosophy instructor Jacob Witucki stepped aside from teaching so his students and others could learn from Tibetan monks.

They are touring the United States to educate the public about the culture and religion of Tibet, and raise money for their monastery, Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehra Dun, India.

The tour – the monastery's fourth to America – is in partnership with the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and its Kumbum Chamtse Ling Monastery in Bloomington. It started in August and ends in April – a schedule Witucki considered grueling.

“They're going everywhere,” he said.

A former colleague alerted Witucki about the possibility of a visit, the instructor said. The monks' stop in Fort Wayne fell between a multiday visit at the Indiana Buddhist Temple in Hoagland and a week in Cincinnati, according to their itinerary.

Seating at Ivy Tech became scarce as the four-hour program got underway in a room with seating for several dozen. The event was free and open to the public, although donations were encouraged.

The monks – about half a dozen – arrived in robes, but four quickly changed into traditional clothing to perform the Tashi Sholpa, a Tibetan village dance. Along with dancers' singing, the spectacle included accompaniment by cymbals and a drum.

A guided meditation session, a debate demonstration, a Tibetan script workshop, and a course on happiness and the nature of Buddhism would follow. The latter especially interested Witucki.

“That key word, happiness,” he said.