Aftab Pureval, Cincinnati, Ohio’s first Tibetan American mayor, met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, on Monday.
Pureval, 40, called the meeting “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“As the only elected Tibetan in the United States, and as a proud member of the Tibetan diaspora, it was a special moment for me to just be in his presence and to get an opportunity to ask him a question,” Pureval told Tibet TV. “I will take his lessons of warm-heartedness, of advocating for and praying for all of humanity and all sentient beings, and compassion back to my city and my country and try to lead by example and make all Tibetans around the world proud of our culture and heritage and my work.”
According to Radio Free Asia, the Cincinnati mayor asked the Dalai Lama what he could do to advocate for Tibet in the United States as a member of the Tibetan diaspora.
“And his answer was very simple — to focus not only on the Tibetan cause but to focus on the cause of humanity, to think about all sentient beings and to pray for them, which was very touching,” Pureval said.
Pureval addressed Tibetans still in Tibet, saying: “We feel your pain. We understand your struggle. You are not alone and you are not forgotten … The preservation of our culture, history and religion is a responsibility that those outside of Tibet feel very personally and very strongly.”
He was part of an American delegation of mayors from seven cities — including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Oakland and San Leandro, California — led by Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. Philanthropist Lonnie Ali, American boxing champion Muhammad Ali’s widow, also joined the delegation.
The Indian Tibetan lawyer made history last year when he was elected the first Asian American mayor of Cincinnati, defeating fellow Democrat David Mann.
Featured Image via OHHDL