Venerable Tayzar Dipati is a Buddhist monk from Shwebo, northwest of Mandalay. He grew up in the monastery as a young novice monk and today, his chief role is to care for young HIV patients and to run the monastery of young monks.
U Tayzar Dipati is often called upon by the local community in the area to help neutralise rumours before they grow out of control and on social media, and prevent outbreaks of violence locally.
He has strong links to the other religious communities in the area and fosters inter-religious understanding. The monk believes that by learning about other religions, we will realise that they are not so different to each other.
1. Compare the Shwebo monastery when U Thayzar Dipati was a young novice to life at the monastery today. What has changed? What do you think is the same?
2. What activities does the monk identify as having kept people from different backgrounds together?
3. Why do you think it is important to visit and understand another person’s place of worship?
4. How does the monk show that he fosters inter-religious understanding and that he values building relationships?
5. The monk says “Rumours come here every day.” What can you do in your community to address potentially destructive rumours?
On a piece a paper, draw a large circle and a smaller circle inside in. In the inside circle, write all the things that you feel are part of your identity, your values, etc. In the outside circle write things about your identity that are stereotypes of misconceptions you may have faced. In small groups, present your circles, and on a separate piece of paper write out “I am…, but I am/do not …”
Play a version of the “Telephone Game.” Have one person pick a short story from a hat and whisper it to the person next to them. Each person in line has to whisper to the next, and the last person recounts the story. Discuss as a group how things are misinterpreted. Discuss how rumours and misinformation can be harmful to community relationships.