MARYSVILLE – When students study different cultures, they often notice differences.
But when teachers Xochitl Palacios and Corina Hansen of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary taught their students about the culture in Mexico, many students noticed similarities.
“The traditions correlate with each other,” Hansen, a fifth-grade teacher, said of the Native American culture. “That’s what you guys do,” she said her students would say.
Hansen said she taught her students about the Day of the Dead last year. But when a “fellow Mexican lady” started teaching first grade in the classroom next to her, they decided to combine efforts.
“It’s part of who I am,” said Palacios, in her first year there. “They embraced it,” she said of her students.
The two teachers had an after-school event Nov. 2 so parents could get involved with the lesson, too. They drank homemade traditional drinks, such as rice milk and cinnamon. Another drink tasted more like fruit punch and another one like hot chocolate. “It’s all sweet,” Palacios said, adding that could be one reason why students like it.
Students also enjoyed the breads and cookies. They enjoyed the taste of different styles of food.
“There’s a lot of sugar. It’s the one time of year when calories don’t count,” Palacios said.
One of the parents, Crystal Jones of Tulalip, said the event was great for helping people accept other cultures. She said she studied cultures in college.
“This is amazing,” she said. “They should do more to learn about other people’s cultures.”
The teachers said they might have an advantage in teaching about culture there because it’s on the Tulalip Reservation, where the tribes emphasize learning their culture.
The teachers said when they started teaching the lessons students would ask each other questions like, “Where are you from?”
Regarding the Day of the Dead, the teachers explained that it is not connecting to Halloween in any way.
It is actually a celebration for those who have died, “instead of crying,” Palacios said. An altar is set up with candles. Items of food that the deceased enjoyed are placed there. “You eat what they eat,” she added. People often paint their faces to look like skeletons with the belief that the living and the dead intermingle.
Roberto Danci, who played guitar and sang, said, “Those on the other side, they come and be with us.”