Most of the Chicano Education department and the multicultural organizations met in L.A. Hall Nov. 4.
It was a special day to remember their loved ones who have passed away and to celebrate their lives with an emphasis on Pedro Mendez, a student at Eastern who passed away in August. The event was put on by the students who are part of the Chicano Education program.
The host of the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event, Rosa Alvizar, started with a moment of silence for Pedro Mendez, a beloved friend and brother to most of the Chicano students on campus. Maria Morales and Elena Calderon then presented the history of Dia De Los Muertos.
Indigenous people have celebrated this day, Nov. 2 for more than 3,500 years in Mexico, Central America, South America and the United States. It is to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed by offering gifts and foods for deceased loved ones on an altar. Morales and Calderon also talked about how people decorate the gravestone of the person whose life they are celebrating.
Next, Cesar Raudez, president of OeMeTe (La Hermandad de O eMe Te) spoke about his friend Mendez, a member of the organization. “He had a special gift, saw the positive in everyone,” Raudez said. A few of the other members of OeMeTe spoke about Mendez, how unfortunate his passing was to them all and how he will be missed dearly.
Alvizar then had their different clubs and organizations present the altars. The first was R.A.I.C.E.S. (Reconociendo a la Identidad con Educacion y Sociedad), which honored victims of domestic violence. The next was from Omega Delta Phi honoring brothers against drunk driving.
Kappa Delta Chi followed with an altar on breast cancer. OeMeTe’s altar was dedicated to Mendez. MEChA’s (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan) altar was for the victims of drug wars with an emphasis on the U.S./Mexico border. The Interested Ladies of Lambda Theta Alpha dedicated their altar to famous Latina women. Sigma Lambda Beta had their altar dedicated to a member’s father who passed away recently. Sigma Lambda Gamma dedicated their altar to victims of AIDS.
The last altar was from the Chicano Education program and was in memory of Dr. Carlos Maldonado, director of the program, and Ruben Trejo, a founder of the program.
After the altars were presented, the members of MEChA passed out candles and song lyrics and led a group of people out to the campus mall where they walked around and sang songs in celebration of these lives.
When everyone piled back into L.A. Hall, they were prepared for music and food. With pozole and lemonade available, everyone sat back in their chairs and ate while the band “Fin de Silencio,” a Spanish rock band from Yakima, Wash., performed, which was Mendez’s favorite genre of music.
President Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo said he was impressed that the different organizations and clubs on campus worked so hard to put this event on. “I’m happy and surprised of the turnout,” he said.
Lupe Cannon, office manager of Chicano Education program, helped guide the students in making the food. “I only gave them the recipe they did the rest,” she said.
Cannon has attended the event the last 16 years that it has been on campus. “We might need to move it to another place next year because there are not enough seats,” she said.
Junior Samantha Perez attended the event for the first time and said, “Learning the history was cool. I never understood it.”
Despite budget cuts, the event was put on by the students in honor of their loved ones and their history as Chicanos on campus.