Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month. This month is a time for everyone to be educated on and celebrate Hispanic and Latino Americans.
According to hispanicheritagemonth.gov, Hispanic refers to someone from a Spanish-speaking country, and Latino, Latina and Latinx all refer to someone who is from a country in Latin America. Latinx is the most inclusive of these terms, since it is not gendered. These two groups also include their descendants. Marian is home to 35 students who identify as Hispanic.
One of these students is sophomore Audrey Arthur, who is Spanish, Costa Rican and Puerto Rican. “Honestly, I wasn’t very immersed in the culture as a kid, but now growing up, I actually get to experience a lot of things and understand what everything is about,” Arthur said. “It’s a great culture; it’s so lively- there’s always parties. It’s just fun! ” She appreciates being Hispanic because “I get more experiences. You just kind of get to know more; you see different sides of what the world is like.”
Similarly, freshman Ximena Perez Silva is Hispanic and bilingual. “What it means to me is showing my culture and pride throughout the day, not Americanizing my daily culture, and being proud of what my background is,” Perez Silva said. She wants Marian students to “be okay with people speaking another language… It’s going to be something you’re going to have to go through. Just be comfortable when people are not speaking English.” To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, “my family always reunites in a way– we go out to eat, we throw a little party, but now because of COVID-19, it’s different,” Perez Silva said.
During National Hispanic American Heritage Month, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Miss Devin Owens worked with a group of students to bring awareness to this minority and educate the Marian community. The group created a mural of Frida Kahlo, a famous artist from Mexico whose work reflected the beauty of the country and its people. “It took us a little bit of time to get it together, so I’d say the total amount of time was maybe three days,” Owens said. Below the mural, which is located above the quad in Marian’s main entrance, hang posters to inform about a few of the many Hispanics who have made great contributions to our world.
On Oct. 13 from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Marian hosted a Hispanic-Latino virtual summit in the collaboration room. “The summit was 18 girls, so it was more than I initially had planned for, but I was glad to see so many students interested in attending. Also, not everyone who participated in the summit was Hispanic; there were Black, white, and other ethnicities in attendance, so it was great to see a diverse background of people interested in attending,” Owens said.
“The summit shared a lot of education and work opportunities for students. We heard from representatives and speakers from area businesses and colleges/universities, in addition to state senators who shared the importance of Hispanic and Latinx students being involved in public policy,” Owens said.
Mrs. Molly McGuire Raabe ‘89 also contributed to Marian’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by creating a display in the library. “I feel it is important to support Hispanic Heritage Month in some way. I put out a display every year. I also used to put up a small display in my classroom when I was a Spanish teacher,” Raabe said.
“I always refer to the Pura Belpré Awards for guidance and inspiration. I also look at recommended reading lists from the National Hispanic Heritage reading lists, the American School Library Association, National Book Award lists, and compare to the books written by Latino/Latina writers we currently have in our collection. I put out a small sample of our collection and listen to requests I receive from all of our patrons,” Raabe said.
Spanish teacher Señora Cassie Craig is half-Mexican and said she thinks it is important to celebrate her own culture and all others. “There are over 60 million Hispanics in the U.S., and we contribute a lot to the country. Hispanics’ past and present are a big part of U.S. agriculture; members of my family including my grandparents and great grandparents have worked the fields of Iowa. Mexican and Tex-Mex food are now staples across the country, Latin music and artists are becoming more mainstream and the use of Spanish is everywhere,” Craig said.
She sees the effects of her Hispanic background in her life every day. “At the heart of Hispanic culture is familia. I am friends with all of my cousins (all 21 of them), and I know my second cousins, third cousins, second cousins once removed, etc. Hispanics place great value in the family unit, and the love we put into our families seeps out into the community.”
“I think Hispanic culture should be celebrated by Marian girls and everyone else because celebrating diversity in general is an amazing thing. Opening our minds and experiences to other cultures makes us more loving, understanding, and well rounded human beings,” Craig said.
Owens encourages Marian girls to “pay attention and be aware, because when you’re aware of other’s history, it allows you to be more informed and able to make thoughtful, intentional decisions about what you’re doing.”