Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 2:25 pm
At church on Sundays, African-American students are hearing a possibly unexpected pitch alongside the familiar sermon: Come to Cal State University.
Officials from the California State University system have been pioneering a program of seeking new prospective African-American students in church pews — a program that's serving as a model for similar efforts elsewhere.
Blacks make up about 6.6 percent of California's population, according to 2011 census data. Jorge Haynes, a Cal State spokesman, said the university system's African-American population is 5 percent.
In Philadelphia in 1972, an immigrant couple of Kalmyk origin gave birth to a boy they named Erdne. A few years later, the Dalai Lama renamed him Telo Tulku Rinpoche and identified him as one in a long line of reincarnations of an ancient Buddhist saint. The boy was then taken to a monastery in the mountains of southern India to learn the teachings of the Buddha.
Telo Rinpoche was one of the first of his kind: someone from the West learning thousand-year-old traditions a world away from his family.
The author, a Syrian citizen living in Damascus, is not being identified by NPR for security reasons. Many Syrians interviewed for this piece asked that their full names not be used, for their safety.
In most every Arab country where there's been an uprising in the past couple of years, Islamists have gained influence or come to power. Is the same thing destined to happen in Syria if President Bashar Assad's secular government is ousted?
Syrians may not know the answer, but they certainly are talking about it.