WRITER: FAIROUZ ABU-GHAZALEH
CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: May 4, 2001
Day of the Dead Committee honored with Mariko award at global scholar
celebration May 11
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Robert Vander Beek, representing the Dia de los Muertos
(Day of the Dead) Coordinating Committee, will receive this year's Mariko
Mizuhara Award for Cross-Cultural Understanding, given by the UI Office of
International Students and Scholars, International Programs.
Vander Beek, an assistant professor of social work in the UI College of
Liberal Arts, will receive the award at the International Programs' Graduation
and Global Scholars Celebration Friday, May 11 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the
International Center Lounge. Also honored at the reception will be about 225
graduating international students, UI students who received scholarships and
fellowships supporting international study and research, and UI students completing
international and area studies majors, minors and certificates.
The Mariko Mizuhara Award is given annually to individuals or organizations
that have developed a new and innovative program, demonstrated cross-cultural
understanding, sought to build ties of involvement among diverse groups on
campus and in the local community, and/or helped to educate others about diverse
populations. The program or project needs to have a connection to or an effect
on the UI or the Iowa City community.
The award is given in memory of Mariko Mizuhara, a Japanese student who
was a music major at the UI from 1988-1992. She died unexpectedly in 1992.
Her parents, Shunji and Noriko Mizuhara, established a memorial fund for the
Seeking to reach out to the local Latino community and to increase cultural
understanding and diversity, Vander Beek envisioned a social event that would
complement existing social work outreach activities in the community. He later
formed a planning committee, composed of UI faculty and students, Iowa City
and West Liberty residents, as well as residents from other communities around
Iowa, to coordinate the festival.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition tracing back to Mayan culture
and to the belief that death is merely a stage in an endless cycle. On Nov.
1 families in Mexico celebrate life and honor loved ones that have died. Common
to the holiday are altars complete with photos, belongings, favorite foods
and other remembrances of the person whose life is being honored. It is typically
a joyous time with special food, decorations and music.
The first Dia de los Muertos in Iowa City was held in 1997. The fiesta has
become a way to bring diverse groups together to acknowledge and celebrate
the contribution of Mexican culture to Iowa.
It has also become a tool for educating non-Mexican communities about that
culture and has provided a unique opportunity for cultural exchange.
In nominating Vander Beek, David Leshtz wrote: "Few people at the University
of Iowa are more committed than Bob to the ideals of diversity, cross-cultural
understanding and campus-community collaboration."
The Office of International Students and Scholars is part of UI International
Programs, which consist of a number of offices, centers, degree programs,
academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate
provost and dean for international programs, these units serve to further
internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship,
research and teaching.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Graduation and Global Scholars Celebration provides many
visual opportunities since parents and friends of graduating students attend.
If you are interested in covering the event, please call Lois Gray at 335-2026.