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Victory Over Violence to raise awareness, promote peace in UA community

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Hailey Eisenbach | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Hailey Eisenbach / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA hosts Victory Over Violence, a four-day event happening over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, featuring guest lectures and discussion about topics concerning violence.

A series of exhibitions held on the UA campus helped raise awareness about violence within the community.

The Victory over Violence exhibition, hosted by the UA Buddhists for Peace Club and Soka Gakkai International — USA, a Buddhist association, focused on bringing violence issues in Tucson to light during a four day period. The exhibition began Saturday and will end today in the Student Union Memorial Center.

The exhibition, which is in its 13th year nationally, was prompted by the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, according to Tomoko Marcus, leader of Desert Thunder District in Tucson for Soka Gakkai International — USA, a Buddhist association.

Preparation for the event began five months in advance with youth members from the club and the international association working to bring the exhibition to Tucson following the Jan. 8 shooting, according to Brian Diezel, a Pima Community College student majoring in computer science and member of Buddhists for Peace Club.

“The youth in our organization have worked really hard for this event to happen,” said Junko Olander, Soka Gakkai International ­— USA member. “For their growth, I would say this has been successful. Very successful growth in our youth.”

To kick off the event, keynote speaker Richard Ruiz, UA department head of teaching, learning and sociocultural studies and director of Mexican American studies, gave a speech on creating peaceful dialogue in everyday life. Mitzi Sasse, yoga and Qi Gong instructor, also led an interactive and hands-on demonstration that allowed attendees to take part in yoga and Qi Gong movements.

Sunday’s guest speakers included Sheri Bauman, director of UA counseling and mental health graduate program with a talk on bullying, as well as Linda Kohanov, an international author, who gave a talk entitled “Emotional Heroism: The Power Behind Nonviolence.” Victory Over Violence videos promoting peaceful dialogue and prominent examples of non-violence were shown in between guest speakers.

“When people leave this event, we want them to feel hopeful. We want them to feel hopeful in their own lives and to inspire others to feel just as hopeful. Through peace, anything can be achieved,” said Janet Eaffy, a member of Soka Gakkai International — USA.

Monday consisted of more video and dialogue in order to engage attendees, as well as speakers who discussed a variety of topics, including the impacts of domestic abuse. As of Monday, about 150 people have attended the event, according to Kim Diezel, chapter leader of Soka Gakkai International — USA.

“I think the event has been successful because we feel that any effort toward that direction to promote this idea of non-violence, that even if one person shows up, that is planting the seed of that idea to expand,” said Claire Cotter, a member of Soka Gakkai International — USA.

Today there will be two guest speeches from Ofelia Zepeda, UA professor of linguistics, on “Understanding the Power of Words,” and Meghan McKendry, UA Oasis, Student Health prevention specialist on “Combating Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence at the UofA.”


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