Local girl meets Dalai Lama

By Tammie Knauff, Idaho Press Tribune, September 14, 2005

Marsing first-grader among 18 children who receive blessing from world-recognized leader

MARSING, Idaho (USA) -- Katrina Smit of Marsing experienced the chance of a lifetime Monday as the Dalai Lama wrapped a cloth around her neck and exchanged words.

Even at the young age of 6, she understood the special nature of the moment. World politics and religion aside, the Southwest Idaho youngster carried the globally celebrated Buddhist monk's message of compassion.
Katrina took center stage during the second day of the spiritual leader's visit in Idaho, receiving a blessing from the Dalai Lama before an audience of thousands in Hailey.

Teri Smit, her mom, said it was a long day for the young girl, but she was a trouper.

"She knew it was special," Smit said. "She compares him to the pastor of our church."

"I was impressed with the Dalai Lama's sense of humor," the proud Idaho mother added. "His message was positive and uplifting; for (Katrina) it was very simple."

Katrina was chosen to be one of 18 children to receive the spiritual leader's blessing. She was nominated for the kind way she treats her 76-year-old grandmother, who has suffered a series of strokes and is confined to bed or a wheelchair in a house next door.

"I thought it was fun," Katrina said. "I thought it was really cool to meet the Dalai Lama."

Her mom was also moved by the other children who were honored Monday.

"I'm proud that Kathy could be included with such a phenomenal group of children like that," Smit said. "There were a lot of tears of pride. It was moving to be with the parents of the other children and share this experience with them."

Today, Katrina will have a chance to explain compassion to her first-grade class at Marsing Elementary School. And for her age, she's an expert on the Dalai Lama.

"He's a pastor from Tibet," she said. "But he doesn't live in Tibet. He lives in India. He was born in Tibet."