Celebrate Hispanic Heritage


Anna Lucia Arguello, Staff Writer

For many people, Hispanic Heritage Month is just something on the calendar. We may see it, but don’t pay attention to it. However, it serves to bring awareness to and celebrate an underrepresented community. It began in 1968 to honor Hispanic American contributions to American society. At first, it was only a week. It was later lengthened to a month to include the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Nicaragua. Each year there’s a theme focused on awareness and betterment of Hispanic communities. This year, the theme is “Building Prosperous and Healthy Communities”. Events surrounding this theme include education on jobs and the economy, climate and education.  

It’s also a month taken to celebrate people who have made a difference. Well known figures such as Frida Kahlo and, for a more modern example, Lin-Manuel Miranda, find themselves in the spotlight. However, it’s also an important time for less well-known individuals to get recognition for their accomplishments. Julia Alvarez, a Dominican American author, is an excellent example. She spent her childhood in both the Dominican Republic and America, falling in love with language and its ability to communicate feelings. Some of her more famous works are In the Time of Butterflies and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. She centered her writing around the difficulties of being an immigrant and the feeling of not belonging to any one culture.  

Another important yet lesson known figure is Jaime Escalante, known to his students as the best calculus teacher in the United States. Coming from Bolivia, he fled unstable politics into the United States with his wife and son. There, he worked odd jobs to put himself through school (again) and get a teaching degree. He was hired to teach at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, where he was unimpressed with his curriculum and teaching materials. He was a tough and unorthodox teacher, working with props and innumerable sports metaphors to connect with his students. His colleagues were skeptical, but each year more and more of his students tested into Advanced Calculus, breaking into what was previously a predominantly white and wealthy field. His story truly came into the public eye when his students were accused of cheating and many of the accused passed the test a second time. The movie “Stand and Deliver” was based on his teaching success. Though he wasn’t officially recognized by teachers or the government, he changed the course of many students’ lives. 

Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance for cultures and ideas to spread. It’s a chance to celebrate differences and embrace them. Sometimes, it seems like there’s nothing but fear and violence in the world. It’s always good to take a step back and look at how humanity has succeeded, and how much can be accomplished if we just work together.