Lowell Students Embrace Hispanic and Ojibwe Traditions at UMD

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 31, 2019 06:16 PM

Students from Lowell Elementary’s Spanish and Ojibwe immersion program spent the day at UMD Thursday to partake in fun arts and crafts while learning about Ojibwe and Hispanic culture.


Second and third graders were immersed in the cultures by participating in special traditions like learning about Dia de Los Muertos, which is known as Day of the Dead, and learning about Ojibwe art and bandolier bags.

UMD’s multicultural center was packed with excited students ready to get a lesson on Dia de los Muertos, a special holiday in Hispanic culture to honor the lives of loved ones who passed away.

“It’s to embrace culture diversity and have an inclusive curriculum,” said Alison Aune, a professor for UMD’s Department of Art & Design.

“We’re making skeletons to celebrate and put them over the grave and celebrate them,” said Rhett Hueffmeir, a second grader.

UMD’s Department of Art & Design put together a variety of fun activities for students to make Mexican folk art and learn about ofrendas, a colorful display made for dead relatives on Dia de Los Muertos.

“It celebrates people who are dead in your family and remember them by doing the stuff they like to do,” said John Rubin, a second grader.

“I like that it’s Dia de Los Muertos. We learned about why it’s important and why they put so much stuff on the tables,” said Liam Tonnis, a second grader.

“When people die all that’s left of them is a skeleton so it’s about celebrating and people put up skeletons and wear skeleton costumes,” said Maxwell Jenson, a second grader.

Students made skeletons and flowers out of paper mache. They admired the many ofrendas the multicultural center displayed.

The kids even showed off their Spanish during the field trip with UMD staff and students.

Wilder Craft, a second grader, said “Yo estoy muy feliz que hoy es Dia de Los Muertos y Halloween.” In English, it means he’s happy that today is Day of the Dead and Halloween.

“The Lowell students have been teaching me a lot about this holiday as well,” said Emily Horita, A UMD student.

From there, they headed to the Tweed Museum for a lesson on bandolier bags, which are part of the Ojibwe culture. The museum currently has an exhibit of them.

“We are doing activity workbooks and diving into the history of it,” said Kaity Steffan, a UMD student.

“I never learned about any type of Ojibwe culture and now I’m learning about it and it’s awesome,” said Gigi Calland, a second grader.

“It’s really good to see that they’re gaining an appreciation at such a young age,” said Steffan.

Students got to explore the museum and did their own Ojibwe beadwork.

“We’re learning about beadwork and how for many years people have been making these bags and designs,” said Ajay Turner, a second grader.

Kids embraced the new traditions and now have a deeper understanding of the two cultures.

“I can’t believe I didn't know this one year ago but now every second I’m learning about this stuff,” said Turner.


Alejandra Palacios

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