chapter  7
26 Pages

Resé un Ave María y Encendí una Velita: The Use of Spirituality and Religion as a Means of Coping with Educational Experiences for



The first in her family to go to college, Maribella is a sophomore who is for the first time living away from home while attending a large predominately white university. She is the oldest in the family; five brothers and sisters still live at home with their parents. Struggling to find connections on campus and with faculty, Maribella feels particularly lonely when she has to stay at school to study on the weekends knowing that her family (including her grandmother and aunts) gather to eat dinner and spend time together. Growing up in a fairly traditional Mexican household, she has always known her family to be religious, with her mother attending church, praying regularly, and lighting candles to La Virgen. She fondly remembers attending mass with her mother and grandmother almost every Sunday, and lighting candles as offerings-particularly when a family member was sick. It was also on the weekends that she would say prayers to help protect the family and their

home. Now at college, Maribella finds it difficult to attend mass as she does not like the masses in English, and even more so, does not like attending services alone. She has attempted to create her own alter in her dorm room with La Virgen de Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary), a prayer book, and a veladora (prayer candle). Because lit candles are against dorm regulations, Maribella feels unable to make proper prayer offerings to help her with school and to help provide support for her father, who was recently laid off at work. Maribella has struggled to keep present her spiritual practices, yet as she has been less able to engage in them she feels out of balance and less connected with her family.