Next to ISKL, is a Chinese cemetery. This past Tuesday was the ‘All Souls’ day as the Qingming festival is known as to the Western world. This meant that floods of people came to pay their respects and this affected the students and staff at the school. Teachers were emailed and informed that they could not park at school. This led to carpooling and forcing the teachers to park across the street and walk to the school. The parking lot was opened up to the elderly people coming to the cemetery, allowing them the convenience of parking close. This caused another problem as the busses bringing students to school could not get through the parking lot safely as large groups of people came in and out of the burial grounds.
Upperclassmen that drive, or are driven to school were confused to see streams of students and teachers walking across the bridge and down the edge of the drive-through circle. Alexis Jimenez, a senior at ISKL, commented on the bus situation as an inconvenience. She was also a fount of information on the Qingming Festival, as she had discussed it in her Chinese class. When asked the reason about the weird bussing arrangement, most students were unaware about the Chinese day of remembrance.
A great deal of Southeast and East Asians practice tetraphobia, which is to avoid the number four. This is why elevators may show floor 3A in place of 4. This aversion to the number four is because in many Asian languages (though, primarily Chinese) the number four sounds incredibly similar to the pronunciation of death. This number is not avoided, but embraced on April 4th during the Qingming Festival. On this day, many Chinese families travel to where their ancestors and family are buried to clean the graves and honor the dead. The families offer food and other offerings so that their ancestors will be well-prepared in the afterlife. Picnics are even eaten next to the graves. More than food, the families sacrifice electronic things like iPhones, laptops, and even houses. An alternate option for gifting expensive devices like this to ancestors is to purchase cardboard or paper models of houses and the electric items.
ISKL is well-known as a cultural hotbed. Students from all over the world come together to attend school and form relationships. All of this interaction, infused with the Asian and Malaysian influences, should mean that more people are aware of this day. Next time you pass the cemetery on the way to the art building, stop, and take a look at it. See the way the graves are so taken care of and the reverence people have for their ancestors. Any inconvenience caused is overshadowed by the cultural importance. That’s what ISKL is all about, and that’s why this is a fantastic school.