Tag Archives: Mexico

A Community Art Project: Before I Die

-Jamie Hershman

What do you want to do before you die?

When I first pondered the question, I kept coming up with short term goals. But, thinking in the long-term, I know what I want to do before I die: make a difference, whether that be through my story-telling, or traveling the world and working hands-on in making a difference. Who knows? All I know is before I die I want to do something meaningful that will make a difference or impact somebody else’s life for the better.

A new community art project has whole neighborhood’s pondering the question, as well. It began with artist Candy Chang turning the side of an abandoned house into a chalkboard, having many slots open for residents to share what they want to do before they die. After the death of a loved one, Chang decided she wanted to up her spirits and the spirits of her community.

With the great response and participation from Chang’s community, there have been more and more walls going up throughout the world. “Before I Die” walls have gone up in Brooklyn, NY; Montreal, Quebec; Portsmouth, NH; and Queretaro, Mexico, as well as many other places. More are in the process of going up as well within the year from Johannesburg, South Africa to Denver, Colorado and Wolverhampton University in England.

These walls allow people to write down their hopes and dreams, and all responses are taken on record. This positive community art project is inspiring people to find and follow their passions. From past responses, many want to travel the world and reconnect with old family members. The walls encourage people to truly stop and think about what is going to make them happy in life. Some responses are funny, while others are a little more serious, but all have meaning to the person who wrote them.

Other groups have started projects to encourage people to find their passions with the “before I die” phrase. A group of four guys called The Buried Life made a list of 100 things they want to do before they die and have gone on a mission to complete every item, which MTV picked up as a reality television show. The Buried Life has influenced many young people to create their own bucket lists and try to complete them.

With so much negativity in the world, these walls provide a little center of hope for those who want to believe in their dreams and for those who want to lead better lives. Chang started with just a wall, but her one idea has sprouted walls up throughout the world and has changed the normality of the day-to-day life by encouraging people to find their passions.

So now, take some time and think about it. What do you want to do before you die?

Miscommunications in Mexico

Sara during her trip in Mexico.

-Neethu Ramchandar

Language- even if you become proficient in a language, you must always be aware of its constant changes and connotations depending on where you are speaking.

Sara Clark, International Studies graduate student, shares her story delving into the meaning of Coger. When the Spanish began to conquer Mexico, the conquistadors took goods, land, and people. They would rape the women to show power over the people. Although in some Spanish speaking countries, such as Spain, the word Coger is synonymous with Tomar and means “to take”, the connotation of Coger quickly transitioned when Spanish men began “to take” Mexican women.Today, In Mexico, Coger has a very sexual and vulgar meaning.

Clark had learned Spanish for a few years now, she had studied abroad In Spain when she was 20 years old, but now she had decided to make a significant shift. “I decided that I wanted to work among the Latino community,” Clark explains. “And for that, I needed to know a different dialect of Spanish.” To accomplish this, Clark set voyage to Mexico where she quickly found her Spanish to be splattered with differences. Caught in a linguistic hullabaloo, Clark often relied on her friends for translations and connotations.

One summer night, after visiting clubs and dancing with a group of friends, Clark was offered a ride home. Wanting to show off her independence she replied to her friends, “no problema, yo puedo coger un taxi,” (no problem, I’ll take a taxi). Their reaction to her newly accomplished independence was disappointing to say the least. As they erupted into laughter, Clark found herself confused as she repeated the phrase to herself checking conjugations and pronunciations.

Finally, Clark inquired to her friends who mockingly replied, “really Sara? Coger? You want to sleep with the taxi?” Clark had said that she had wanted to sleep with, not the taxi diver, but the actual vehicle itself.

“For weeks they teased me asking me if I wanted to Coger,” Clark says.