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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC students experience Day of the Dead celebrations

TCC student Michelle Brown, above, receives a blessing and cleansing in Mexico City during last year’s trip. At right, a sculpture in the “Katrina” competition in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  Photo courtesy Jaime Palmer
TCC student Michelle Brown, above, receives a blessing and cleansing in Mexico City during last year’s trip. At right, a sculpture in the “Katrina” competition in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Photo courtesy Jaime Palmer

By Ashley Bradley/ne news editor

TCC student Michelle Brown, above, receives a blessing and cleansing in Mexico City during last year’s trip. At right, a sculpture in the “Katrina” competition in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  Photo courtesy Jaime Palmer
TCC student Michelle Brown, above, receives a blessing and cleansing in Mexico City during last year’s trip. At right, a sculpture in the “Katrina” competition in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Photo courtesy Jaime Palmer

Every year, NE Campus Spanish instructor Jaime Palmer takes two trips to Cuernavaca, Mexico — one during the summer and one in the fall during the Dia de los Muertos celebration. This year’s fall trip runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 3.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican celebration that remembers and honors deceased family members and friends.

“It is not like Halloween or All Saints Day. It is its own thing,” said David Morgan, NW instructor of biology.

Morgan made the trip two years ago and can’t put it out of his mind.

“Just to be immersed in the culture, it’s something that is uniquely Latino. It’s just something we [as Americans] can’t understand unless we experience it. We were welcomed everywhere we went. We were part of the community. We were treated as participants, not guests,” he said. “I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Spanish heritage and culture.”

This year’s itinerary will start Friday, Oct. 30, upon arrival with a welcome Mexican dinner. Saturday will start at 9 a.m. with a conference and workshop at the Instituto Mexicano de Español y Cultura, where participants will learn more about Dia de los Muertos, prepare Mexican tamales and take part in a workshop making a paper craft called papel picado, and making ofrenda, or offerings, where participants will make their own altars for the celebration. 

At 3 p.m., participants will then have lunch with their host families from Cuernavaca, before touring downtown, visiting museums and shopping. At 8 a.m. Sunday, the group travels to Mexico City, and then a small town called Ocotepec. On Monday, participants will attend Mass at 9 a.m. before traveling to another indigenous town to observe more traditions for Dia de los Muertos. On Tuesday, the travelers will return to the U.S.

Last year, Daniel Heron, a former NW Campus student went with Palmer to Mexico.

“It was really fun to walk around the town and walk right into people’s homes and eat free food and look at shrines to dead people. It was a little weird if you think about it. Going into a stranger’s home and talking about a dead person that you never met,” he said. “When we were in the little town of Ocotepec, we watched a ritual dance. They literally danced around for hours and hours.”

Daniel wasn’t the only one who had a great time on the trip last year. NE Campus Spanish adjunct instructor Billie Grawunder went along too.

“We were never treated as outcasts. I have traveled to Mexico a lot, but that time I felt really immersed in the culture by being accepted by the families,” she said. “It was like stepping back in time with them.”

Despite the title, Palmer said the holiday is for the living.

“It’s more about celebrating life than it is about celebrating death,” he said.

The deadline to sign up for the trip is Sept. 30. Palmer has only 12 spots available, and it’s first-come, first served. The trip costs $900, which includes round-trip airfare, ground transportation, museum entrances, cemetery and family altar visits, the welcome meal and room and board with a Mexican family for four nights. The only other expenses will be spending money and registering on NE Campus for Spanish 1100 because the trip will count for one credit hour.

For more information, contact Palmer at 817-515-6932 or james.palmer@tccd.edu.

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