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LAII Recognizes Día de los Muertos with K-12 Teacher Programs

Each year, the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) partners with community organizations and local speakers to develop programming for K-12 educators on the topic of Día de los Muertos. The programs typically include professional development workshop and an ofrenda display at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This year was no exception, with the most programming and best participation to date. Nearly seventy-five educators attended to learn about the historical and contemporary traditions associated with the holiday.

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From September 10 to October 15, the LAII organized six different workshops for area educators, with guest speakers including Dr. Suzanne Schadl, coordinator and curator for UNM's Latin American and Iberian library collections; Rusita Ávila, co-director of the South Valley Marigold y Muertos Parade, community organizer, and social worker; Chris and Mari Baca, community artists and educators; and Arturo Olivas, community artist and educator. The workshops covered topics such as the significance of death in Mexican culture, papel picado, sugar skulls, cultural and historical roots, and contemporary adaptations. Community partners included the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Central New Mexico Community College.

Educators received hands-on demonstrations to learn how to cut papel picado with all ages, and craft sugar skulls, as well as background information about this important holiday. LAII staff also provided curriculum materials, all of which are fully digitized on the LAII website and available for download at no cost. Visit the LAII Flickr page to see a slideshow of photos from the events.

In addition to providing workshops to dozens of educators, LAII staff also created an ofrenda to install at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC). Each year the NHCC hosts an exhibition of several dozen altars created by area schools, artists, and non-profit organizations. The LAII has participated in this exhibition for three years in a row. This year, the LAII ofrenda recognizes women of Latin America who have made lasting and significant contributions. The ofrenda installation is on view through November 5 in the NHCC Education and Performing Arts buildings. A community-oriented and family-friendly despedida will take place on November 1, 2014, from 4:30 to 6:30. All are invited and encouraged to attend this free, public event and celebrate with music, poetry, Mexican chocolate, and pan de muerto. Hands-on art opportunities will be available in the hours preceding the despedida, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. See the event flyer for reference.

Special thanks are due to LAII graduate assistants Lorraine Archibald, Jacob Sandler, and Teresa Drenten for their contributions to this year's Día de los Muertos programming.

Image: Photograph of LAII ofrenda installed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

--Posted October 20, 2014.