Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day of the Dead

In our Exploring the Global World class, we study the different beliefs of the afterlife. While students may not think they have anything in common with Japanese culture, we compare the use of Shinto shrines to Day of the Dead altars, and how both cultures believe that the spirits of their ancestors will visit these special places.

The altar in my classroom also acknowledges the grief students may be experiencing if they have had a death in the family recently. This year's altar has pictures of babies, adults, grandparents, and in a heartbreaking instance, the mother of one of my students. This death was particularly poignant because the child's mother died while attempting to cross the border into the United States. In my 8th grade class, we are reading the story of Enrique's Journey, a detailed account of an illegal immigrant boy who travels across Mexico to the U.S. in search of his mother. The book details many such deaths, and unfortunately for my students, this book really hits close to home.

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