Telo Tulku Rinpoche, left, prays with Buddhist monks in front of inmates in a prison colony in Kalmykia, Russia, on Sept. 7, 2010. After renouncing his monkhood, Telo Rinpoche can no longer wear traditional robes, but still serves as the region's Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader.
In Philadelphia in 1972, an immigrant couple of Kalmyk origin gave birth to a boy they named Erdne. A few years later, the Dalai Lama renamed him Telo Tulku Rinpoche and identified him as one in a long line of reincarnations of an ancient Buddhist saint. The boy was then taken to a monastery in the mountains of southern India to learn the teachings of the Buddha.
Telo Rinpoche was one of the first of his kind: someone from the West learning thousand-year-old traditions a world away from his family.
Students walk in the hallway as they enter the lunch line of the cafeteria at Draper Middle School in Rotterdam, N.Y. Five states announced in December that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013.
Flotsam and Jetsam: of such things are stories made. Writers use objects to give their stories weight, attachment and verisimilitude, like Gary Paulsen's The Hatchet; Jean Shepherd's Red Ryder BB Gun inspired A Christmas Story; and how about Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon?
A woman tries to salvage items from a burnt out Sufi shrine outside the Tunisian capital, Tunis, last October. Hard-line Islamists, known as Salafists, have attacked many Sufi shrines in Tunisia recently.
Credit Fethi Belaid / AFP/Getty Images
A Sufi man sits during his visit to a shrine in Tunis. Tunisia's government has promised emergency measures to protect Sufi Muslim mausoleums, which have been targeted by radical Islamist groups.
The author, a Syrian citizen living in Damascus, is not being identified by NPR for security reasons. Many Syrians interviewed for this piece asked that their full names not be used, for their safety.
In most every Arab country where there's been an uprising in the past couple of years, Islamists have gained influence or come to power. Is the same thing destined to happen in Syria if President Bashar Assad's secular government is ousted?
Syrians may not know the answer, but they certainly are talking about it.