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Celebrating the dead

Three student groups collaborate for Mexican holiday

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Local dance instructor Heidi Garza leads attendees at the university’s Day of the Dead celebration in a salsa dance. The annual event featured Garza’s Latin dance lessons as a new component of the three-hour celebration in the Liberal Arts Building.

Photo by Gabi Wy
Local dance instructor Heidi Garza leads attendees at the university’s Day of the Dead celebration in a salsa dance. The annual event featured Garza’s Latin dance lessons as a new component of the three-hour celebration in the Liberal Arts Building.

On Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, Gabriela Aguilar feels a connection to her half-sibling Ramses.

The sophomore biochemistry major admired the festive display with a friend at the university’s Day of the Dead celebration Tuesday in the Liberal Arts Building.

“This is a day that you take to remember lost loved ones,” Aguilar said. “I feel a connection to Ramses. I feel almost nostalgic, going back through memories and happy times.”

She said she wasn’t able to attend the university’s celebration last year, but she always celebrates the holiday.

“It’s a nice thought that the university considers the diversity of its students,” Aguilar said. “Even if you don’t know what’s going on, you can just come and find out. I hope everyone learns something.”

The event is a collaborative effort between Student Government Association, Spanish Club and the Hispanic Student Union. At the past several years’ events, there have been groups of students from Mexico in attendance through the International Studies Department.

During the three-hour celebration, Spanish professor Manuel Apodaca-Valdez led students on a candlelight walk outside through the “labyrinth of solitude,” which organizer Damien Burge said signifies moving into the afterlife.

Spanish professor Manuel Apodaca-Valdez shares the flame of his candle with attendees at the university’s celebration of the Day of the Dead. Apodaca-Valdez led students, faculty and visitors in a candlelight walk in front of the Liberal Arts Building, signifying the transition from life to the afterlife. The Day of the Dead celebration, put on by Student Government Association, Spanish Club and the Hispanic Student Union, has had about 100 attendees in past years.

Photo by Gabi Wy
Spanish professor Manuel Apodaca-Valdez shares the flame of his candle with attendees at the university’s celebration of the Day of the Dead. Apodaca-Valdez led students, faculty and visitors in a candlelight walk in front of the Liberal Arts Building, signifying the transition from life to the afterlife. The Day of the Dead celebration, put on by Student Government Association, Spanish Club and the Hispanic Student Union, has had about 100 attendees in past years.

When Apodaca-Valdez brought the attendees back inside, he explained some of the history of Día de los Muertos. After enjoying some refreshments, local dance instructor Heidi Garza taught several Latin American dances.

“We try to bring a new and different element every year,” Burge, a constructive member of SGA, said. “It’s really exciting to be able to learn about different cultures in ways like this.”

The senior international studies major said holding cultural events at the university brings global education directly to students.

“It’s in a comfortable atmosphere, and people feel more safe,” Burge said. “Traveling abroad is great, but this is right here.”

He said he hopes students left Día de los Muertos with more knowledge and having had a good time.

“If you incorporate learning with fun, it makes it more relatable,” he said. “This is about fun and togetherness.”

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Celebrating the dead