One reporter shares her experience of the Día de Muertos Multicultural Literature field trip


Amy Kennedy

The MCCLA displayed a traditional Día de Muertos altar.

Día de Muertos, San Francisco and murals were common words among the students who went on the English field trip Tuesday, Oct. 23. The field trip was to the historically-Latino Mission district in San Francisco and was inspired by the Latin American tradition of celebrating the lives of the dead on November 2.

As an SCHS multicultural literature student, I went on this field trip. The day started early, with around 158 students filing into four school buses at 8:00 a.m. After nearly two hours of driving, we came upon the colorful houses and pedestrian-filled streets that characterize San Francisco neighborhoods.

Groups of around 15 students spent most of the day walking through the city streets, looking for murals or other objects that fulfilled the elements of the trip’s scavenger hunt. We searched for everything from a mural representing multicultural activism to an object symbolizing Día de Muertos.

I was interested to see that many butterflies, especially monarchs, decorated the murals throughout the district. In Latino culture, monarch butterflies represent the souls of the dead that are returning to visit the living as their migration over Mexico coincides with Día de Muertos.

Butterflies were also present in the other part of the field trip: a tour of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA). Located in the heart of the Mission district, this center has been around since 1977 and was established by artists “with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts,” according to the MCCLA website. There we saw a traditional Día de Muertos altar displaying fruit, alcohol and pictures of the diseased, items commonly offered to the spirits. The colorful altars are typically set up during this time of year to honor the lives of deceased family and friends.

This field trip helped me realize that we are lucky to be surrounded by such great diversity in the Bay Area. I believe that learning about Latino culture can generally make us more empathetic and less ignorant citizens, an important quality for life in the “melting pot” of cultures that characterize America.