Coco Fest at Nazarbayev University

Students, staff members of Nazarbayev University, and the expat community from the city celebrated an adaptation of a traditional Mexican holiday.

For a second year now, the NU community took part a rough in the adaptation of the Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican holiday.  NU calls the event “Coco Fest” in honor of the cartoon that showed the beauty of this ancestral tradition to the world. The Day of the Dead, which has its origins in Pre-Columbian times,  is celebrated annually throughout Mexico every November 1st and 2nd, especially in the country’s Central and Southern regions. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to remember loved ones who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them. In 2008, the tradition was added to the UNESCO  Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Coco Fest was organized by the NU Spanish Club in partnership with NU Art Club, NU Latino Dance Club, NU Dance club, NU Ballroom club, NU Rock Out, NU French Club, and NU Dance Club “Latino”. The student clubs were mentored by the Mexican expat community living in Nur-Sultan under the guidance of Ms. Sandra Real (NU alumni 2019, Eurasian Studies program) and Mrs. Norma Celis. The students were also grateful for the help given by faculty members from the Spanish and French language section at SSH.

During November 8th, our NU community was invited to the atrium between blocks C3 and C4  to participate in a master class of calaverita and catrina painting. During this class, the participants had fun learning about the history and cultural significance of the tradition through members of the Mexican expat community, plus they created their own artistic concepts with the colors and techniques of their choice. All the decorations produced in the master class where used for the altar decoration that happened the following day on November 9th.

 On the second day of NU’s Coco Fest,  a musical concert and various dance performances were held, plus an exhibition of altar decoration done by NU students and volunteers from the expat community.   The participants learned about the regional diversity of altar decorations throughout Mexico and came up with their own creations. After the altar decoration, the guests enjoyed themselves listening to rock music performances in the Spanish and English languages.  Guests also played traditional Mexican board games, enjoyed the salsa, bachata, reggaeton, and ball music dance routines from the collaborating student clubs. During the middle of the event there was a dancing flash mob accompanied by Latin American music. Participants also had the opportunity to compete in an intellectual quiz on Mexican culture to win prizes.  Finally, the end of the event everyone was invited to join us for a delicious coffee break.