Ustinov Global Citizenship Programme

Ustinov Intercultural Forum – Day of the Dead

By Sanjukta Nair 

Photo Credit: Matthew Roberts

Despite its morbid sounding name and proximity to Halloween, the Day of the Dead is a joyous celebration of family, love, life and death. It is a day dedicated to remembering the souls of the departed by focusing on everything that they loved, and to celebrate close familial relationships. Since we Ustinovians consider ourselves to be part of one big family, the Ustinov Intercultural Forum decided to bring this festival from Mexico and Latin America to Sheraton Park, with the help of some of our fellow students from the Mexican Society. They helped to set up a three-tiered ofrenda (altar) near the entrance of the Ustinov Cafe, initially illuminated with candles, decorated with yellow marigold flowers, and photographic remembrances of departed relatives in order to give it a more personal touch.

We began the event with an informative talk by Dr. Pérez Marín (Assistant Professor / Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures), explaining the history and significance of this festival, and how it has caught international attention and is developing itself accordingly. Students who attended had questions to ask once the talk was over. She also shared some personal items to give attendees a better understanding of the festival. Once the talk was over, Ustinovians (as well as parents and their children from the nearby community) were invited to decorate sugar skulls that had been prepared previously. While the kids were engrossed in decorating their skulls with colours and stars, some of the attendees chose to make their own papel picado (paper cutting) decorations with some helpful instructions from the Mexican society, all with upbeat and catchy Mexican songs playing in the background.

Since we wanted to reward the kids for their hard work, a piñata was set up outside Sheraton Park, and each were given turns to try and break it open. As expected, there was a mad rush for the fallen sweets! At the end, some of the decorated skulls were put on the ofrenda, while the rest were either taken home or given to the Mexican Society for their own Dia de Los Muertos event at the Durham Student Union! All in all, the Day of The Dead event at Ustinov was a successful beginning to our Intercultural Forum events for this year, one that was enjoyed by attendees of all ages.

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