Despite the heavy rain, Wednesday evening saw a considerable crowd for California State University, Stanislaus’ candlelight vigil held to remember the 43 missing students from Mexico. The event was moved to the protection of the Theatre Department’s patio and the event thankfully went on.
“I think the event was successful,” said Suzie Valle, one of the vigil’s organizers. “We were able to gather students and the local community together in an environment where they were able to be part of the global community — to raise awareness of what's going on in Mexico.”
The missing students were on a bus trip in late September when they were confronted by police in Iguala, Mexico. Six were killed and 43 were unaccounted for — although charred human remains were later found in the area and are believed to belong to the students.
The vigil began with a video called Somos Ayotzinapa featuring the poem “Devuélveme mis ojos" which came from a blog called Nuevo Blog de Manzano. The poem’s message about not forgetting the 43 students was a powerful one as well as a theme present throughout the event.
“There was a point in the process where we looked at a face and it touched us and it kind of gave us an emotional moment,” said Professor Dan Edwards, who advised the students on the project. He mentioned that the long line of faces, lovingly screen-printed by the Art students, was reminiscent of the Vietnam memorial in that there was at least a part of it that was relatable to someone.
After the video, the Folklorico Iscali troupe from Stockton performed an Aztec blessing ceremony. Afterwards, they led a prayer in each cardinal direction as well as to the sky and ground.
Most poignant was when the names of the students were read and the audience was asked to repeat “presente” after each one. The allusion to students in class made the tragedy suddenly very relatable, particularly on a campus of college students.
“I would help organize another event to bring awareness to an issue I feel strongly about,” Valle said, when asked if she’d host more events like this one. “At this moment I am currently focusing on students’ rights in China and their demands for greater democracy.”
Aztec dancer from Folklorico Iscali preparing for the start of the dance.
The sign with the 43 missing students, rendered by Suzie Valle, Janet Diaz and other CSU Stanislaus Art students.