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Conway peace activist to get award from Dalai Lama

September 20, 2008

From The Recorder
by Richard Davis

Longtime peace activist Paula Green has been selected as one of the ‘Unsung Heroes of Compassion’ to be honored next April by the Dalai Lama.

The award, made to ‘individuals who, through their loving kindness and service to others, have made their communities and our world a better place,’ is scheduled to be given by the Tibetan Buddhist leader at an April 26 ceremony in San Francisco. The award is given annually by the California-based nonprofit organization ‘Wisdom in Action.’

Green, 70, is founder and executive director of the Amherst-based Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, which works to bring about reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians in Israel, Muslims and Serbs in Bosnia and Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda. She also has been working with Nepalese women, who have been included in a new parliament there, and this week returns to Sri Lanka to teach a seminar in peace building for 26 women from around the southeast Asian country.

Later in the fall, Green plans to work in India and Nepal as well.

‘The purpose of my life has been to do compassionate action, and the award is a confirmation of my lifelong pursuit of compassionate action and the Karuna Center’s mandate,’ said Green, a professor at the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vt., and who created the peace center 15 years ago.

‘Karuna’ is the ancient Indian word for compassion.

She said she has met the Dalai Lama several times as part of various groups.

The awards, presented twice before by the Dalai Lama, are made to about 50 people ‘who represent thousands of people around the world who do compassionate work without a thought of receiving an award or recognition,’ said Elizabeth Share of Wisdom in Action.

Green said the e-mail notification about six weeks ago caught her ‘completely by surprise. I feel very humbled and am deeply honored to be selected, and look forward to the experience of receiving it from his holiness. It will be a very precious moment, and I will be standing in for all the people who stand behind this work.’

The e-mail notification said, ‘In receiving this acknowledgment, you will represent the countless others worldwide who like you, practice compassion and kindness in their daily conduct. & In sharing your story, and the stories of the other ‘Unsung Heroes,’ Wisdom in Action seeks to increase awareness, and inspire others to find their own paths to compassionate action.’

In her e-mail, Share noted that the April 26 awards luncheon and presentation is neither a religious nor a political event, but a gathering of ‘a diverse group of men and women, representing different faiths, countries of origin and ways of working in the world (with) quiet dedication to others &’

George Levinger of Amherst, a member of the Karuna Center’s board of directors said of the award, ‘It’s terrific. She’s been doing significant work in Nepal.’

He said he hopes the award will bring added recognition to the Karuna Center and help with fundraising toward its roughly $300,000 budget.

Tom Wolff of Leverett, a former, longtime member of the Karuna board, said of the Amherst center, ‘Their work around the world is just remarkable. They’re an unsung heroine story.’

The award ceremony is scheduled for around the same time that the peace center will mark its 15th anniversary, he said, a coincidence that Green called ‘a wonderful synchronicity.’

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