April 15, 2008 / 12:51 PM / 12 years ago

Washington school children celebrate Dalai Lama

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama greets a boy as he takes part in a Children and Youth Day celebration, as part of his five-day visit to Seattle, Washington April 14, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Thousands of Washington state school children cheered the Dalai Lama on Monday, chanted peace slogans and clasped hands over hearts to lively drumbeats, but some said they wanted to hear more about the hot issue of the day — Tibet.

“The issue of Tibet is worrisome,” said Michelle Cheng, 15, whose parents are Chinese. “He didn’t seem to talk about it much.”

The Dalai Lama, wearing a traditional cinnamon-hued robe and brown walking shoes, addressed a crowd of 14,400 school-age children in central Seattle. Underlying a theme of compassion and how it can help end violence and sibling rivalry, he also emphasized the love of mothers, the need to nurture children, forgiveness and a wide range of issues related to compassion during his 25-minute address.

“I will try not to be so mean to my sister Ruby and not call her Ruba anymore,” Mia Loren Cassidy, 8, said afterwards.

Victorian Dan, 14, whose mother hails from Cambodia, said the Dalai Lama inspired them but should have discussed the recent violence in Tibet in more detail.

“It surprises me that Tibet is in a state of crisis and it isn’t talked about much or taught in class,” said the student of Thorton Creek Elementary in Seattle. “I think it might have been necessary to address it, but it was a very uplifting speech.”

The Dalai Lama is on a five-day visit to Seattle with compassion the centerpiece of his public appearances.

The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of orchestrating last month’s deadly riots in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and subsequent in other ethnic Tibetan areas, as part of a bid for independence and to ruin the August Olympic Games in Beijing.

“I am heart-broken about news and other difficulties” in Tibet, the Dalai Lama told students. “But my sleep is not disturbed.”

Reporting by Laura Myers, writing by Adam Tanner, editing by Cynthia Osterman

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