National Hispanic Heritage Month

Elizabeth Hsieh, Editor-in-chief

Running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) brings different histories together to celebrate the heritage of Hispanic Americans.
HHM started as a one week celebration under President Lyndon Johnson. More than just teaching people about Hispanic history, it has become a time to celebrate the diversity of Hispanic culture through history.
“There’s a lot of Latino students in this school, and it brings awareness to their culture, and it’s not just Mexican students,” Carmen Beltrán, Spanish teacher, said. “We have students from all over… There’s 20 other Spanish-speaking countries that are proud of their roots, and it’s important for the student body to realize that.”
Though not as celebrated, the month kicks off with seven Latino Independence days: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.
“I’ve known about it, but I don’t think a lot of people are aware it exists,” Alexko Alvarado, senior, said.
Within classrooms, there is no set curriculum to celebrate HHM, but many teachers see it as an opportunity to help break away from preexisting ideas that people who are unfamiliar with the culture have.
“[HHM is about] letting people see that there are differences, that there are different races within the Latino culture, that everyone is not going to look like Jennifer Lopez,” Xiomara Colé, Spanish teacher, said.
For Hispanic-Americans, heritage is not only a piece of history, but a living part of their identity. First-generation students grow up in Hispanic households with a completely different language and culture.
“I speak a lot of Spanish at home, but I try to include a little bit of English so my mom can be more familiar
with the language,” Alvarado said. “The culture is more strict about being successful. A lot of immigrants come from poor places, and they want their kids to live a better life than they did.”
Common American activities like sleepovers and fieldtrips can be viewed from a completely different perspective.
“My parents were more protective of me,” Yaritza Patino, senior, said. “I was not allowed to go on fieldtrips, and still my parents don’t want me going over to other people’s houses, because they were unsure of how it was here. Over in Mexico, it’s a very dangerous place compared to America.”
These students must find a way to balance their Hispanic roots while living in American society.
“It’s so easy to forget [your heritage],” Colé said. “Assimilation is real, and it’s nice to know the culture you are living in, but at the same time, you don’t want to forget your roots,” Colé said.
By understanding the culture and heritage they grew up with, people can better understand the struggles that Hispanic-Americans endure.
“Hispanics make up a large part of this country, whether it be in the workforce or just here for a better life, and I feel like it’s good to know where they come from,” Andrew Nadres, senior, said. “A lot of people have negative connotations, but it’s not really like that.”