Students from WUSTL in DC Programs get rare chance to visit with Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama discussed moral free enterprise, ethics at private forum

Third-year law student Sam Negatu snapped a selfie with the Dalai Lama.

Not many students have been invited to hear the Dalai Lama. Fewer still have have posed him a question. But snapping a selfie with His Holiness? That’s a rare opportunity indeed.

Third-year law student Sam Negatu got that chance last week at a private forum at the American Enterprise Institute, where he and fellow students from the WUSTL in DC Programs joined a discussion about moral free enterprise and ethics. After the seminar, the Dalai Lama greeted the students and posed for pictures.

“I got a shot with him behind me,” said Negatu, who is serving as a legal fellow to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. “It was an honor to be there. It was a real call to action — that we should have a moral principle in everything we do — not just in business, but in all aspects of our lives.”

Emily Kent, a junior who is studying environmental policy, asked the Dalai Lama if he believes market-based solutions can solve climate change. The short answer was no, that as a Marxist, he has no faith in capitalism, she recalled. But he does believe in the next generation of leaders.

“What he went back to with every question was compassion — that we are all one despite differences in religion, in nations,” said Kent, who is an intern at White House Council on Environmental Quality. “He urged us to find ways to work together.”

Second-year law student Ujjayini Bose found the Dalai Lama both frank and funny.

“At times, he would throw back his head and laugh. He seemed genuinely like a happy person,” said Bose, who is working at the Securities and Exchange Commision.

The Dalai Lama did reveal, when asked by WUSTL law student Conrad Sansone, that he gets mad, too.

“He could have told us that he was above anger and we would have believed him, but he said his secretaries know what he’s like when he gets mad,” Bose said. “I was pleased about the honesty of his responses. I was so energized and excited after hearing him speak. He clearly has a lot of wisdom to share, but for me, it was just his presence that stuck with me.”

WUSTL’s DC Programs make it possible for students from all schools on the Danforth Campus to live, intern and study in the nation’s capital. Learn more at or email