Hispanic Heritage Month Inspires Reflection

Sophia+Bojorquez+%2812%29%2C+Daniel+Fernandez+%2812%29%2C+and+Mr.+Serrano+pose+with+the+flags+of+the+nations+to+which+they+belong.+Sophia+and+Daniel+are+Mexicanamerican+and+Mr.+Serrano+emigrated+from+Spain+at+23+years+old.+

Sandhya Ganesan

Sophia Bojorquez (12), Daniel Fernandez (12), and Mr. Serrano pose with the flags of the nations to which they belong. Sophia and Daniel are Mexicanamerican and Mr. Serrano emigrated from Spain at 23 years old.

With Hispanic Heritage month coming to a close, many students and staff on campus reflect on what the month means to them, and how their pride lasts for more than just one month.  

Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated yearly in the United States from September 15 to October 15. The aim of the month is to honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans throughout history, as well as to inspire pride in those of Hispanic origin who reside in America. 

September 15 was chosen as the start date for the month because it is a historically significant date, as it marks the independence day of five Latin American countries– Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. The month also coincides well with Mexico and Chile’s celebration of Hispanic heritage, which starts the day after.  

Awareness of the month can manifest itself into many different forms of celebration. While some people reflect on their own heritage individually, others talk about it with their peers and students.

“That’s all I do. I think to be bilingual you have to be bicultural, so every single time we talk about anything else I expose whatever we’re learning into the culture that we’re talking about,” said Alvaro Serrano, one of the Spanish teachers on campus. 

“October 12th means a lot to me, the day itself. The whole month means the celebration of my own culture per se, but to me means three things. One of them internationally, one nationally, and one personal. The international is that October 12th was the day that America was discovered. Quintessentially, the day that Spain became Spain. A lot of people don’t know that. A lot of people think ‘yeah October 12 is when Columbus discovered America’, they don’t know that’s exactly the same day that Spain became Spain,” said Serrano. 

Serrano credits the marriage of his parents for his personal appreciation of October 12th. Without the occurrence of these three things, Serrano believes that he wouldn’t be here.

To me, to celebrate ‘Hispanic’ as a group is a wrong thing to do. Every Spanish culture has a culture of its own. You can’t say that Costa Rican is the same as Mexican, or that Mexican is the same thing as Colombian. To categorize everything into Hispanic, yeah we share it. We share the culture– somewhat, but not all”

— Alvaro Serrano

Serrano wishes more people would contribute to the Spanish appreciation of friendship. In 2016-17, he brought his family with him to Spain, and was able to see friendships blossom between his children and other kids in Spain. 

In terms of what you can do in order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month year round, Serrano suggests that more people educate themselves on the richness of each and every culture. 

“To me, to celebrate ‘Hispanic’ as a group is a wrong thing to do. Every Spanish culture has a culture of its own. You can’t say that Costa Rican is the same as Mexican, or that Mexican is the same thing as Colombian. To categorize everything into Hispanic, yeah we share it. We share the culture– somewhat, but not all,” he said. 

Students of Hispanic heritage on campus share Serrano’s hope of people continuing to celebrate the different cultures outside of Hispanic Heritage month.  

“I think we have like a month to show our culture to everybody and I think it should be more than a month, it should be year round. We shouldn’t have a month just for every person, it should be a whole year round thing to express your culture and where you come from,” said senior Sophia Bojorquez.

Bojorquez is Mexican-American and loves to share her culture with those around her, like her boyfriend. One of her favorite pastimes is showing and cooking cultural food for her boyfriend, sharing aspects of their cultures with each other.  

Bojorquez comes from a rich history of inspiring figures, who serve as inspiration for her when sharing and indulging in different aspects of her culture. “My grandma had a big influence on me when I was younger, especially her community in LA because she started a whole art thing around hispanici culture. It was all free, because it was for the students who did not have enough money for actual art classes. She started hispanic heritage festivals like Día de los muertos or Día del niño and all these free events so that those kids could be in touch with those communities,” said Bojorquez.  

The rich community that Bojorquez’s grandmother has strengthened through her program, Casa Cultural, is one aspect of Hispanic Heritage that most students and faculty relish.  

I think we have like a month to show our culture to everybody and I think it should be more than a month, it should be year round. We shouldn’t have a month just for every person, it should be a whole year round thing to express your culture and where you come from”

— Sophia Bojorquez

Groups like the Latinos Unidos club have brought students of Hispanic heritage together in order to help celebrate their different cultures and work to promote the celebration on campus. In years prior to the pandemic, Latinos Unidos would meet and give presentations about inspirational figures of Hispanic descent. 

“We’d have presentations about important figures and how they’ve impacted the community, and how they’ve provided. Another thing is spreading awareness to people we know, and how we can uplift each other to show how [those of Hispanic heritage] have done a lot that has impacted us today,” said senior Daniel Fernandez.

Like Bojorquez, Daniel Fernandez is of Mexican-American descent, and is a member of both anti-racist groups Latinos Unidos as well as BRIDGES, which is a program run by OC Human Relations that promotes safe, respectful, and inclusive school communities. Fernandez shows his cultural pride through his membership in the various clubs.

Hispanic culture is a broad term that encompasses the individual customs and cultures of many different regions and consequentially, Hispanic heritage month is celebrated at different times, and even in different ways during those months. 

In order to honor the richness of the different cultures within the Hispanic community, it is essential to educate yourself on the history and accomplishments of each country, meanwhile promoting anti-racism and inclusive sentiments.