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Volume 68, Issue 14, Friday, September 13, 2002


Photographer aims to spread tolerance

Andrew Fritsch
The Daily Cougar

Mark Lacy travels with shivas and angels.

And during his presentation "Travels with Shivas and Angels" on Thursday, Lacy, a photographer in UH's Office of Publications, made headway in his personal mission to increase cultural awareness in this country and others.

The title for the presentation, which was a slide show accompanied by music held in the UH Hilton's Plaza Room, came from a traveling experience Lacy had in Mexico.

"I was in Copper Canyon where there are lots of big boulders, so my friend gave me a Ganesh medallion for protection and to help move obstacles," Lacy said. "There was a little girl who was so taken with it, and I was able to explain to her what it meant."

Ganesh, along with Shiva and Brahma, are the three main Hindu gods. To some, they are seen as spiritual beings that can help protect people, similar to guardian angels.

The slide show displayed a wide range of images illustrating diversity in various settings, such as Ground Zero, the Oklahoma City Federal Building memorial, Mardi Gras and sites and celebrations around Houston.

Following Lacy's show, a discussion gave panelists a chance to add their views regarding the importance of cultural diversity.

The panel was composed of Irma Guadarrama, an associate professor in the College of Education; Barry Norwood, professor of architecture at Prairie View A&M University; Ellen Simonson, UH alumna and former Daily Cougar Opinion columnist; Samira Zaidi, news editor for a Agahi, a news program that focuses on Muslim issues; and Alicia Triplett, student director for the Council of Ethnic Organization.

"By understanding them (other cultures), people will come to accept them," Guadarrama said. "It is especially important for future teachers and others who will deal with cultural diversity on a daily basis."

Simonson, who hails from Grand Rapids, Mich., said Houston was initially overwhelming and frightening, but she came to love the city and UH, because she learned how people really lived. Additionally, many of her Michigan classmates who did not leave the cultural subset of Grand Rapids could not adjust and survive in other environments Simonson said .

Guadarrama expressed a similar sentiment: "When people take it (embracing cultural diversity) as an individual mission, it's a more powerful thing."

Lacy said, "My main issue is you have such a great opportunity to benefit from other cultures."

Maintaining cultural solidarity also comes from supporting businesses, such as restaurants in specific communities, Lacy said.

And although Lacy may not put much stock in the religious significance of shivas and angels, he knows he has benefited from knowing how they affect others' lives.

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