Students Celebrate Their Culture During Hispanic Heritage Month

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Hispanic or Latino population makes up 18.7% of the U.S. population. The percentage in East Grand Rapids? 2%.
September was National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and recognize Hispanic Heritage and culture.

“This is a month to celebrate my heritage as a Mexican American,” Clark Garza ‘22 said. “It allows me to remember and celebrate my unique culture.”

During this month students recognized the contributions of notable Hispanic people. Girl Up Club placed posters and had Garza and Natalia Rodriguez ‘22 speak to the club about their experiences and the importance of their heritage.

Across the country, Hispanic Heritage Month is also an opportunity to recognize the many cultures and differences among those who identify as Hispanic, Latino, Latinx or even something more specific to their geographic or cultural connections.

“Hispanic Heritage Month means a lot to me because it elevates the opportunity for the people around me to learn about Hispanic heritage and the importance of multiculturalism,” Alaia Murua ‘22 said.

There is a lot to learn about Hispanic heritage, including the differences in and between different Hispanic and Latino cultures.

“I want people at East to know that even though most people call themselves Hispanics/Latinos we are all different,” Rodriguez said, “Accents are different, even words in the language are different, but that’s what makes being Hispanic cool. We are all similar but different.”

While everyone celebrates their culture differently, Garza recognizes his family.

“[I celebrate by] remembering what my grandparents do and celebrating through introspection and talking about it and informing people,” he said.

Some have questioned if East could have done more to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in future years.

“I think that East does little to think about or represent Hispanic culture and heritage,” Garza said. “I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it can be alienating. I think at least acknowledging a Hispanic Heritage Month would be better than nothing.”
Garza’s thoughts were echoed by other Hispanic students.

“I think East having more representation and having students who come from the Hispanic/Latino community do more interviews and speak out more on their culture,” Rodriguez said.
There is more to Hispanic heritage than just one month; Hispanic students celebrate their heritage all year long,

“Throughout the year my dad will educate me and my sister on a lot of aspects of our heritage, so in a sense we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month all year,” Murua said.

Language, food, clothing, religion are all cultural touchstones in many Hispanic communities, and students at East are proud to celebrate and show off their heritage.

“I do show off my Hispanic heritage and where my parents come from because it’s special to me,” Rodriguez said.

*This story is from the Oct. 2021 edition of The East Vision.