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SAN DIEGO — The 14th Dalai Lama Friday shared a message about embracing diversity and living lives filled with kindness and compassion at a sold-out appearance at U.C. San Diego a day before speaking at the school’s invitation-only commencement ceremony.

Tenzin Gyatso, the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people, was introduced by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and television journalist Ann Curry at around 10 a.m.. before taking the stage at RIMAC Field.

“We are honored to host His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at UC San Diego and thankful that he will share messages of global compassion with our graduates and their families, as well as with a broad public audience,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said earlier this year. “A man of peace, the Dalai Lama promotes global responsibility and service to humanity. These are the ideals we aim to convey and instill in our students and graduates at UC San Diego.”

Faulconer called him “an inspiration to people across the globe.”

“As a city that celebrates its diversity, spirit of collaboration and environmental leadership, we are proud to welcome one of the world’s great champions for peace and understanding to San Diego,” the mayor said.

The 81-year-old Dalai Lama’s San Diego appearance is the first in a planned U.S. tour. He also visited UC San Diego five years when he spoke at the University of San Diego and San Diego State University — where he appeared before a crowd of 12,000 at Viejas Arena. At each address in April 2012, he wore his traditional clothing but also donned visors from each university.

More recently, he visited Orange County, celebrating his 80th birthday in July 2015 with a three-day series of addresses in Anaheim and at UC Irvine, where he joined a group of scientists and activists in a panel discussion titled “The Effects of Climate Change and Taking Action to Resolve this Global Issue.” There, he stressed that residents need to care for the planet just like they care for their own home.

Before his public address Friday, the Dalai Lama delivered a statement and answered reporters’ questions at a 40-minute news conference in a meeting room at U.C. San Diego. The Tibetan spiritual leader appeared to enjoy the question and answer session, and Ann Curry had to remind him repeatedly that thousands of people were waiting for him to begin his public address at 10 a.m.

On Saturday, the Dalai Lama is slated to deliver the keynote address at the university commencement ceremony. His talk is entitled “The Value of Education, Ethics and Compassion for the Well-Being of Self and Others.” The commencement ceremony will take place from 8 to 10:30 a.m.