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What mark will you leave, Wildcats?

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 03:12

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Phoebe McPherson/Staff

Freshman Ryan Justice adds to the Before I Die board; he wants to give his girlfriend Eva a million kisses. The world-famous installation was originally started in New Orleans and has since spread to over 60 coutnries.


Students stopped and stared, puzzled by the giant black wall right outside Dimond Library. In bright, white chalk the words “Before I Die” were written across the top and the rest was left blank. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week Emily Stadvec, a sophomore, along with four of her peers, got students at UNH to stop and think about this heavy subject.

Stadvec is part of a community environmental planning class. Earlier this week Stadvec and her group produced the Before I Die wall as part of a class project.

“The Before I Die wall is a global, community-oriented public art project that invites people to reflect on their lives,” Stadvec said.  

The wall was filled with answers including ‘passing my nursing exam,’ ‘be happy,’ ‘marry a model’ and ‘have a family.’ Olivia Piraino, a freshman, said that before she dies, she would like to ride an elephant. 

“It’s my favorite animal,” Piraino said. “It would be really cool to do before I die.”

Junior Katie Rachel wrote that she would want to complete her bucket-list.

“My list consists of about 12 things,” Rachel said, “such as compose a song or ride a mechanical bull.”

According to Stadvec, the Before I Die wall got started by a woman named Candy Chang. Chang is from New Orleans and lost a mother-type figure that she was very close to. The death was unexpected.

“This woman had all these things she wanted to do before she died,” Stadvec said, “and she didn’t have a chance to do any of them.”

According to Stadvec, Chang found an old abandoned house, boarded it up, stenciled the words “Before I Die” on it, and just left it there. 

“She wasn’t expecting anything,” Stadvec said. “She just left it and the reaction to it … she was astounded.”

In the span of two days, a wide variety of things were written on the wall. They varied from ‘eating all the junk food in the world’ to ‘spending more time with loved ones’ to ‘curing cancer’ or ‘ending world hunger.’ 

According to Stadvec, Chang did this because she wanted to give people a daily reminder. 

“People go through the motions, the daily routines, and forget what matters,” Stadvec said. 

The Before I Die wall became somewhat of a movement, Stadvec said. People flocked to the wall that Chang simply painted and left. 

Senior Abigail Douglas claimed that Chang began to feel that she was no longer alone; she felt that she had a relationship with her community and that they shared something special.

After the success of the wall, Chang got together with friends and made a website.

“This was so people could look at it, get the materials, and do it in their own community,” Stadvec said. 

“This wall shows the importance of public space and how we can use it to make our communities closer. Candy’s wall project has expanded throughout the world, and we decided to bring it to UNH,” Douglas said.

Douglas even wrote a line of her own. She said that she wants to meet Mark Wahlberg before she dies.

“I thought posting something light-hearted and funny would get people to feel more comfortable and open,” Douglas said.

According to Stadvec, the whole goal of the project was to create public space.

“It’s about how we all co-exist in one space … it’s about inspiring others,” Stadvec said.

The wall seemed to do just that. According to the group, the wall was very successful. Stadvec claimed that the project seemed to serve its purpose of bringing students together.

Students picked up the orange, green or yellow chalk left out and then searched for a free space to write down their aspirations. When there was no room left on the wall, students wrote on the stone wall beneath it or on the lamppost next to it.

Dylan McGahey, a junior, was another student at the wall earlier this week. 

“Before I die I’d want to go to a World Series game,” McGahey said. He claimed it’s something he’s always wanted to do and maybe one day he’ll actually do it.  

Junior Zac Desmarais joined his fellow students and picked up a piece of white chalk and searched for an open spot on the wall. Desmarias wrote that he would want to play for John Williams.

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