The importance of Hispanic heritage

Connecting to one’s heritage is important to appreciate one’s predecessors. But finding a connection regardless of heritage solidifies the impact on the millions of people within history. 

Arianna Morales

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The Spanish Honor Society banner hangs in the soft glow of the classroom window.

    My dad always told my sisters and me: “I want to create a legacy for you guys,” reassuring us of the bright future we’ll have thanks to the determination and hard work of my parents. A story not easily found in their emails or conversations with their coworkers. 

   Many stories like these are often overlooked during the beginning of the school year: Hispanic Heritage Month. 

   The U.S Bureau Census Bureau describes September 15 to October 15 as a period of liberation—it marks independence days of several Latin American countries from their Spanish colonizers. 

   It represents the numerous stories of perseverance of those who worked tirelessly to give future generations a better life. Parents who wanted to give a legacy for their children to carry and give to their children. 

   For those who have Hispanic Heritage, it is a time of connecting to one’s unique culture and celebrating the predecessors who fought to change history. Señorita Reina, who’s taught Spanish IV Honors  and Spanish AP classes at Eastern for over twenty years says that “history is how you tell it.” 

   As a Spaniard who moved to the United States, she said it gave her the opportunity to change what school had taught her. “These people were discriminated against, killed, taken advantage of and to have Spanish-speaking countries celebrating their independence from Spain. Yeah, I would definitely understand why you would want to fight for that and disconnect from the oppressor.”  

   Even for those without Hispanic Heritage, the event provides a new perspective and an opportunity to join a new community. Señor Pratz, who’s taught Spanish one and two for four years at Eastern said that Spain feels “like a second home” to him after he lived there for almost two years. “As someone who didn’t grow up with Latinos or other Hispanics, for me to see how another country and culture lives was really eye opening for me.”

   Connecting to one’s heritage is important to appreciate one’s predecessors. But finding a connection regardless of heritage solidifies the impact on the millions of people within history. 

     Perhaps one day Hispanic Heritage Month will be as recognizable as Cinco de Mayo. Señorita Reina says that that’s the goal: to reach a level of awareness that makes people focus and ponder its importance to others and themselves. 

   Hispanic Heritage still has a long way to go, but Srta. Reina and Sr. Pratz believe awareness is growing.

   To continue the momentum, they believe it will take a collaborative effort from organizations like Spanish Honor Society and Spanish teachers to teach the culture along with the language. It will also take an emphasis on its importance incorporated into curriculums as well as government action.

   Hispanic Heritage is beautiful in that it includes a colorful array of cultures each connected through one language: español. 

   “We need to show appreciation and show their culture and history,” said Sr. Pratz, otherwise it will forever be forgotten in the chaos of reality.