Geographical Society of Philadelphia

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Tibet and China – A Journey to the Roof of the World and the Music of Pipa

October 12, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

$50 – $60

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | UARTS Caplan Recital Hall, 6:00-8:30 p.m. 

Travel to the Roof of the World with the Music of Pipa, as part of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia’s Marco Polo travelogue series, on the 17th floor of the University of the Arts Caplan Recital Hall.

The presentation will feature experts in East-Asian studies and passionate travel enthusiasts, David Dettmann, Dr. Lucille Pilling, and Paula Roberts. Tibetan culture and the Buddhist Shoton Festival will be blended with Pipa, the music of this Chinese lute.

Meet fellow travelers, share travel tips, and enjoy a reception and networking session.

In August-September 2019 Lucille Pilling and Paula Roberts were part of a small group
that traveled to Tibet to experience the Buddhist Shoton Festival in Lhasa. Buddhist pilgrims come here from all over Tibet each summer to pay their respects to a giant hillside thangka (religious painting). They stay on to enjoy a performance of Tibetan opera in the garden of the summer palace, Norbulingka, and watch horseback racing and pageantry.
The group explored the old city of Lhasa (which Paula could compare with her 2009
trip), visited Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and a convent, and crossed the vast Tibetan Plateau on an overnight train. In Yunnan, they visited the ancient towns of Lijiang and Dali, met members of the Bai, Yi, and Naxi ethnic groups, picked tea at a mountain plantation, took cooking lessons in a local home, and investigated indigenous fiber art traditions including colorful tribal clothing.

Paula Roberts Paula Roberts has had careers in publishing and university administration. She was until 2015 Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for East Asian Studies, which she helped establish in 1996. She developed East Asia-focused outreach programs, such as high
school summer camps in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages, seminars for regional
teachers, and study tours abroad for educators. She planned and co-led several study tours of Japan and traveled to China and Korea to plan other programs. For that purpose, she traveled to Tibet in 2007, a visit that offers a basis of comparison for her second visit, in 2019. She is now Associate Editor for an online academic publication series on China.
Paula has been a committed world traveler from her first trip abroad, on a gap year traveling around Europe and North Africa, in 1972-73. She became fascinated with East Asia on her first visit to Japan, in 1985, and has returned often.

Lucille Pilling is an inveterate traveler. “Give me a ticket and I will travel anywhere!”

Pilling’s passion is access to health care, particularly for women. She has over 30 years of global public health experience managing complex, multi-organizational initiatives. Pilling was vice president of International Programs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, senior program officer for a Bill & Melinda Gates initiative, and provided short-term technical assistance around the world. Dr. Pilling taught at Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She volunteers at Planned Parenthood Southeastern PA, Christ Church, and UPenn Hospice.  Pilling graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in nursing and from Columbia University with an MPH and EdD.

“A brief journey through space and time with the music of the pipa”
David Dettmann 
is the Associate Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. There he conducts educational outreach programming about East and Inner Asia (i.e. China, Mongolia, Turkic Central Asia). His interest began with a study abroad trip to China in the mid-1990s, when and where he also began studying the Chinese lute “pipa”. Early experiences traveling around China’s Uyghur regions inspired David to focus on Turkic Languages and Literature for his Master’s degree (UW-Madison). Since then, he has been studying and teaching about the diverse cultures of China’s Northwestern borderlands and is regularly involved with student programming in China and Mongolia. He also writes about foods and cooking of these regions with specialized ingredients from Philadelphia Asian Markets at his blog Asian Markets of Philadelphia

The Geographical Society of Philadelphia is one of Philadelphia’s oldest organizations, established in 1891, dedicated to promoting the discovery and appreciation of the world, presenting enlightening programs on travel, geography, science, and exploration offering an opportunity for cultural exchange.

Questions? Please contact Dilek Karabucak, Executive Director, at or visit our website at


October 12, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
$50 – $60


Geographical Society of Philadelphia


University of the Arts Terra Hall 211 S Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19107
211 S Broad Street
Philadelphia, 19107 United States
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