Spanish Club Examines Dia de los Muertos for Hispanic Heritage Month


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Prof. Dr. Yesenia Chávez will lead a presentation explaining the meaning behind the altars heavily featured as part of the Latin American holiday.

The San Jacinto College Central Campus Spanish Club is hosting a presentation Oct. 15 spotlighting Dia de los Muertos as part of a month-long series of events happening across the College commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM).

Modern Languages Professor Dr. Yesenia Chávez, also the club’s advisor, said the group focused on Dias de los Muertos as their contribution to HHM because they feel many non-Hispanic students do not understand the holiday.

“It’s more celebrated in other countries in Latin America and France, as far as I know, and sometimes they confuse it with Halloween,” she said.

Specifically, Chávez noted the presentation examines the use of altares, elaborate altars created with photos, food, and candles meant to welcome a deceased loved one.

“Hopefully, with my presentation and looking at the altares, they’ll get a better understanding of the Hispanic heritage.”

Other commemorative events across the College include dance recitals, guest speakers, and art exhibitions culminating on Oct. 16 in a scholarship award ceremony to the winners of an essay contest. Although there is no shortage of HHM participants, Central Campus History Professor Luis Reyes, also the co-chair of the Hispanic Heritage Committee, said the Committee’s greatest challenge is ensuring there is enough money to fund all the events.

“The main thing was making sure we had funds for everything: having money to organize things, get food,” Reyes said. “So we spent, basically, much of the spring trying to fill out an application for a grant.”

Meanwhile, Chavez said the current incarnation of Central Campus’s Spanish club started three years ago, and she said its goal is “to be more inclusive with our students, to learn more about the culture, and to give us a sense of community.”

Moreover, she added, the club offers students coming to the United States from Latin American countries “a safe place and a sense of comfort.”

“Because of the club, more people are reaching out to me and saying, ‘Yes. I understand your fears and your feelings with all the media,’” Chavez said. “We want to tell them: ‘Our College is a comfort zone for you.’ To come and be here.”

Dia de Muertos Altares will take place from 10:10 a.m. to 11:05 a.m. on Oct. 15 in Room 101 of the Lee Davis Library (C21) on the Central Campus.