Town officials greeted Tenzin Gyataso, the 14th Dalai Lama and spiritual leader of Tibet, Thursday morning when he flew into the Waterbury-Oxford Airport before heading to Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for a two-day visit.
State police from the Oxford Resident Trooper's Office and First Selectman George Temple greeted The Dalai Lama as he got off a private jet about 9:30 a.m.
“I told him that on behalf of the people of Oxford, we were honored to have him in our town," Temple stated in a news release sent out Friday. "He thanked me and told me how beautiful our town was from the air.’’
The Dalai Lama was then greeted by state troopers who were present, including Lt. Michael Hofbauer, Oxford Resident Trooper Sgt. Dan Semosky and Oxford Resident Trooper Josef D’Uva. The Dalai Lama was then "whisked away" by State Department employees for his motorcade to Danbury.
“Everyone who was there for that brief moment in time knew that we were in the presence of greatness," Temple said. "It was a wonderful experience to see such a humble man who has enriched so many lives."
Temple said he knew that The Dalai Lama was "a man of peace" who was forced to leave Tibet when his country was occupied by the communist Chinese. Temple also said that since his exile, The Dalai Lama has advocated for Democratic reforms in Tibet.
Temple said that although the Dalai Lama has received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has been the recipient of 84 other awards including honorary doctorates, he describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
Temple said that when he came down the steps of his plane, he bowed toward him, and Temple bowed back.
Semosky said it was an experience he will never forget.
"He is just a wonderful, peaceful man," he said. "When you see him on TV, you see that bright smile. That really comes through so well when you meet him in person."