Spring 2018: Final Reflection

This is my second time taking this class, and it has been an adventure. The first semester I took the class I wasn’t to sure what it was about. I remember being in Dr. Dukes class, and he was letting us know about the new class that was going to open for the fall. I was very excited the first day of class. I was just beyond excited, and I felt very comfortable in the environment I was in. I felt like everyone in the class was on the same page as me. It was nice because it was the first time the class was being taught and we were all learning as the time went by. I couldn’t picture the cemetery we were going to be doing the project in, i just knew that it was old, and was a little forgotten by the county. The first thing that grabbed my attention was that a lot of the graves were like the ones from Mexico. Some were colorful and full of offerings, and others were forgotten and broken. I was a little intimidating with the data collection, especially the area where we had to distinguished what time of stone the grave was, but after practicing a couple of times I was able to find it a little bit easier.  The use of electronics made it so much easier because the website did the job for you, the only thing we were doing was inputting the information, instead of carrying a notebook and writing everything down. The total station was more advance for me to get comfortable using it. It was a little to much high tech for me, so I concentrated more on data collecting. The weather during the first semester of the course was extremely hot. Good thing we were told to bring specific things to the cemetery in order to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. We found a variety of Santeria objects that seem to be offerings to graves or just random people going to the cemetery and practicing their rituals. While I was collecting data from a child grave, I saw what seemed to be a letter buried to the side of the grave. I was very eager to grab it and try to to see what it was but I did not have the heart to invade their privacy, but what I also notice was that that grave had a picture of the deceased child on the head stone. It said that the baby had passed away in the 80’s, but the picture had the printed date on the back that said it was printed in 2013? I found that very interesting, and I was eager to know why? We also found a couple of wax balls hanging from the trees that were wrapped in yarn as well. We weren’t to sure why those were there. The first semester consisted of learning the process of doing data collection and flagging all the graves as well. The majority were color coded, unless for the ones that were skipped. We also learned to  map the graves with the use of total station. When we had the detective dogs come down from California was awesome. We were able to  see how they did their work on identifying areas were might have a possibility of human remains, but due to the hot weather they got pretty exhausted, but they were still able to marked 20 more graves. It was an awesome start to the course, and a lot was learned during that time. I enjoyed the class so much that I decided to take it for my last semester as an undergraduate student. This time I felt like we knew there was a lot more to the class than just data collection. We were able to almost finish data collecting more or less of 1,020 graves. I felt more confident this next time because I had practice from the previous semester, and I was able to help the new students of the course.  I notice that there was a lot of children buried, and many from the same year, I also found a couple of graves that were from the 1800’s, which was very exciting because most of them were in great shape. We were able to see a lot more  Santeria objects and dolls as well. The highlight of the semester for me was when I was able to witness when a family was able to find their lost loves grave with the help of Dr. Rowe. This family had been looking for their love one for about 50 years, and they were finally able to find her. It was amazing to see how this project will help a lot of the community, and at the same time it will help teach the community about how much history a cemetery has. My advice for the up coming class would be to be prepared for the heat, and make sure to be open minded to things. There is so much to learn from this project, and it would be a great loss if you didn’t get any knowledge from it. I think that it would be nice to have a couple of students concentrating in finding documents based on the deceased, and we might get a better insight on what was going on around the times of their deaths. It might help gain more history based on cemetery. Others can be doing corrections on the data collection,  and another group can be doing the mapping at the cemetery. They can plan an alternating system so everyone would get a chance to experiment the areas.I have learned so much from this class, that it makes me sad that I wont be able to take it next semester, but it brings me joy because I might get the opportunity to take it as a graduate student. It was a great opportunity, and this was one of my wishes to be part of before I graduated, to be able to get the hands on experience.  I look forward for the event that will take place on El Dia De Los Muertos, and to the new adventure that awaits. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *