In Texas, the Cypress Creek Mirror reports that Girl Scout Rebeca Gonzales has a knack for photography, and now she’s using her talent to spread cultural awareness with a photo exhibit at Barbara Bush Library from August 18 through September 15.
With her Nikon D90, Rebeca, 17, set out to capture people with diverse heritages in her small northwest Harris County community. At first, she just wanted to fulfill requirements for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, a prestigious award earned by less than 5 percent of Girl Scouts, but the project grew as she gained support in her community.
“I wanted to do something that I could enjoy and that would motivate me,” she explained.
The results surprised her. She found people from Croatia, Mexico, Nigeria, Ghana, the Philippines, the Middle East and Central America who had embraced American culture, but still performed their cultural traditions. She also photographed subjects of different religions, a Muslim and Catholic, to promote religious tolerance.
“What is American? I wanted to teach the community about these different cultures and about how many there are in our community,” said Rebeca.
Rebeca’s interest in other cultures stems from her own heritage. Although she had many of the same cultural experiences as any other American teen, she also learned about her Guatemalan heritage from her immigrant parents, Ricardo and Brenda Gonzales.
“She’s always been proud of her heritage,” said her mother. “She didn’t have the opportunity to visit our country until two years ago, but she’s always enjoyed learning about herself and where she came from.”
A 2012 Rice University study by the Kinder Institute also showed minorities were surpassing Anglos in numbers throughout the Houston area for the first time since the country’s founding. Barbara Bush Librarians have seen the shift first hand. In 2006, the library received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct a “We the People: Becoming American” project. As part of that grant, librarians surveyed their customers, and found that those who visited within a one-month time period in 2006 had been born in at least 115 different countries around the world.