HONOLULU - Kamehameha Schools students welcomed the Dalai Lama to Hawaii with chants and hula Friday.
Seniors from the school's Kapalama Campus hula halau and glee club chanted and then sang and danced hula to the song "Bless This Land" during a brief ceremony held at a Honolulu hotel.
The Tibetan spiritual leader shook hands, posed for photos and told the students he appreciated their smiles.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama watches students form Kamehameha Schools sing and perform a hula Friday in Honolulu. The Dalai Lama will deliver talks and participate in a panel discussion with Native Hawaiian leaders during his stay.
"I very much appreciate on that human level," he told the students in English. On his way in, he stopped to smell the plumeria flowers on a student's lei.
He also told the students how important it is to preserve one's cultural heritage.
The Dalai Lama will speak to students about tolerance and perseverance today.
The next day, he will talk to the public about the role of peace and compassion in everyday life. Both talks will be streamed live online at pillarsofpeacehawaii.org, as will a panel discussion he'll participate in with Native Hawaiian leaders.
Writer and master hula teacher Pualani Kanahele will join him on the panel, as will Nainoa Thompson, who has been at the forefront of a revival in traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian navigation of the seas. The panel also will include business, political and community leaders.
It's the Dalai Lama's fourth visit to the islands and his first since 2007, when he went to Maui.
He's here this time at the invitation of eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam. His trip is funded by a grant the Honolulu couple made to the Hawaii Community Foundation.
The Omidyars plan to invite other global leaders to Hawaii in the future as part of a series they're calling Pillars of Peace Hawaii. But Hawaii Community Foundation CEO Kelvin Taketa said the foundation hasn't had a chance to discuss who might come and when.