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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Students find life in death

    Pre-pharmacy freshman Kellie Vasquez looks at a student-made altar during a Day of the Dead celebration in the CǸsar E. Chǭvez building yesterday afternoon.
    Pre-pharmacy freshman Kellie Vasquez looks at a student-made altar during a Day of the Dead celebration in the CǸsar E. Chǭvez building yesterday afternoon.

    “”Death is a mirror of life and life is a mirror of death,”” said Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, a Mexican American Studies professorduring yesterday’s ‘Day of the Dead’ celebration in the Cesar E. Chavez building.

    Yesterday’s event, dedicated to remembering and honoring the dead, gave students a chance to create and display altars for loved ones lost.

    Day of the Dead honors and celebrates the lives of ancestors and the continuation of life, focusing on the belief that death is the beginning of a new stage of life. It stems from a ritual the indigenous people in Mexico had been practicing at least 3,000 years before the Spanish conquest.

    Stephanie Rintye, an undeclared freshman, constructed an altar for her friend’s grandmother, whom she shared many memories with before her passing last year.

    “”I was really excited because I’m from Atlanta and there’s not very many Hispanics where I live, so it was very interesting the way people remember and feel emotions again for their loved ones,”” Rintye said.

    She created the altar as part of her English 101 class project with professor Kathryn Ortiz. “”This celebration helps people understand life and death, and it really shouldn’t be ignored,”” she said.

    The Chicano Hispanic Student Affairs has been hosting the ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) ceremony for about seven years.

    This year, Rubio-Goldsmith gave a speech about the beauty and evolution of the traditions associated with Day of the Dead.

    “”In Mexico, where we invented the Day of the Dead, it represents who we are as Mexicans and nothing else really does – regardless of the border that they put between us,”” Goldsmith said. “”That border is meaningless because the way we experience death and give meaning to death, it all ties together.””

    Rubio-Goldsmith also spoke about the principle symbol of the Day of the Dead – the skeleton figurine – which is a playful representation of the dead usually placed on the altars.

    “”We can remember the people who have gone, we can make fun of politicians, the government, people, and laugh whether they are alive or dead. It’s a nice way to remember,”” Rubio-Goldsmith said.

    From people to pets, students celebrated the wonderful memories they have of those who have passed away – placing candies, food, pictures, and anything other sentimental memorabilia on the altar.

    “”It’s my first time making an altar, and I did it (for) my dog that I grew up with,”” said Angel Tellez, a mechanical engineering freshman and member of the Success Express class, which also participated in the event.

    Since the Success Express program started in 2002, students have been encouraged to participate in the Day of the Dead tradition, said Janet Rico, assistant director forthe Chicano Hispanic Student Affairs.

    “”It’s really nice to connect students to the Mexican traditions,”” Rico added.

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