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‘Before I Die’ community art project comes to CSULB

The national bucket list extends to campus.

Senior+psychology+major+Crystal+Perez+writes+down%2C+%E2%80%9CSmile+as+much+as+I+can%21%E2%80%9D+on+the+Before+I+Die+chalkboard+Tuesday+at+the+Beach+Circle.+
Senior psychology major Crystal Perez writes down, “Smile as much as I can!” on the Before I Die chalkboard Tuesday at the Beach Circle.

Senior psychology major Crystal Perez writes down, “Smile as much as I can!” on the Before I Die chalkboard Tuesday at the Beach Circle.

Jose De Castro

Jose De Castro

Senior psychology major Crystal Perez writes down, “Smile as much as I can!” on the Before I Die chalkboard Tuesday at the Beach Circle.

Samantha Diaz, Staff Writer

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This is the question that was posed to students Wednesday when the “Before I Die” installation was on display outside the Business Administration building.

“Before I Die” is a public art project that invites people to write in something they would like to accomplish in their life. The project is meant to create a conversation of life and death and get people to reflect on what is important to them.

The installation on campus this week was brought by Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Cal State Long Beach is one of the first campuses to be involved with the project.

“One of the messages that we want to get out is for people not to be afraid of death and dying, and to be thinking about it,” said Suzanne Engelder, program manager of Saint Joseph’s. “It’s okay to have the conversation and it’s really important to talk about it, especially about what your wishes are.”

Students walked up throughout the day and grabbed a piece of chalk to write in their personal aspirations. There was a variety of fill in the blank responses following “before I die I want to…” wall from “stunt on em” to “overcome my autism.”

Eric Lara, a fourth year business marketing major, was riding by on his skateboard when he saw the wall and stopped to write in his goal: to reach people through his music.

“If just one song can impact a couple hundred thousand people here and eventually make one million people kind of relate to something,” Lara said. “That’s something that I think is powerful so if I can do that through my music, then that’s something I want to do before I die.”.

The wall originally began as a community project by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans in 2011. Since then it has been recreated in over 70 countries and called “one of the most creative community projects ever” by The Atlantic.

This is Saint Joseph’s first involvement with the wall, as well as Long Beach’s campus. The campus was chosen by fourth year sociology major Caitlyn Shea who chose the wall as her internship project.

“I think it’s a good idea on a college campus because we as college students are so focused on school, graduating and finding a job after school, we’re not really thinking about what really matters in life,” said Shea. “I think this gives people the opportunity to really think about what they want to do and what really makes them happy in life.”

Shea hopes that the wall will return to campus annually, as part of National Health Care Decisions week.

The “Before I Die” wall will be on the friendship walk Wednesday and in the Maxson plaza Thursday. After leaving CSULB, the project will go to Saint Joseph’s before touring different cities.

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