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CAMPUS: Students illuminate Acequia Fountain with lanterns for Reading the Globe

CAMPUS: Students illuminate Acequia Fountain with lanterns for Reading the Globe

By Neto Gonzalez
Editor-in-chief

Published Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023

In a culturally rich ceremony, TAMIU students gathered around the Acequia Fountain on campus to participate in the Reading the Globe program. As part of this program, students immersed themselves in Japanese culture, inspired by the book “Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Come and Say Goodbye,” written by Marie Mutsuki Mockett.

The event featured a traditional Japanese lantern floating ceremony, symbolizing the connection between the living and the deceased.

Students put paper boats into the campus fountain.
Neto Gonzalez | Bridge
TAMIU freshman Marcus Narabal, left, drops a paper boat into the Acequia Fountain in the center of campus on Oct. 4 during the Reading the Globe event.

“This is part of … the book that incoming freshmen engage with during the fall semester,” Instructional Assistant Professor Daniel De la Miyar said. “The book delves into Japanese traditions and customs, and one of these customs involves a festivity with lanterns. Participants write messages to their loved ones who have passed away or express good wishes. It’s a deeply spiritual and symbolic tradition. The act of placing lanterns in the fountain serves as a means of connecting the living and the deceased, similar to the ‘Day of the Dead’ celebrations in Mexico.”

The Oct. 4 lantern ceremony is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, with participants folding origami boats and lanterns while inscribing wishes for themselves, their families or personal goals. As these lanterns gently floated on the tranquil waters of the Acequia Fountain, it became a poignant symbol of commemorating loved ones and the fulfillment of aspirations.

“These lanterns are a great symbol to commemorate our loved ones,” TAMIU student Marcus Narabal said. “I think that’s really cool. It’s a great way for us to remind ourselves that we love our family and [that] we have our personal goals that we want to achieve.”

Students fill out messages during the Reading the Globe event.
Neto Gonzalez | Bridge
TAMIU students write messages to lost loved ones on Oct. 4 during the Reading the Globe event.

The lantern-floating ceremony is not just a symbolic gesture but a gateway to a unique opportunity for Texas A&M International University students. As part of the Reading the Globe program, 15 students earn the chance to travel to Japan during spring break. This adventure allows them to experience Japanese culture firsthand and deepen their understanding of the traditions they studied.

This event not only fostered cultural awareness but also reinforced the importance of embracing traditions from around the world. As TAMIU students embarked on this cultural journey through the pages of a book, they also embarked on a spiritual and emotional journey, connecting with the past and illuminating a brighter future through the soft glow of lanterns in the Acequia Fountain.

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