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Worcester Academy Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Every morning we wake up- oftentimes later than we should- yell goodbye to family as we head out the door, and honk our way through our daily commutes. After hours on end of working in static, monotonous environments- momentarily enlivened by the occasional conversation with a friend or co-worker- we return home to make dinner. We joke with family or a neighbor, say goodnight, and repeat the cycle the following day. Yet despite the stress of work or school and self-care, the brightest parts of our days almost always lie with someone else. We are so focused on what the future holds that we forget our own past and our friends’, leaving countless stories of joy, sorrow, uncertainty, and thankfulness buried in a time capsule long forgotten. We encounter so many diverse backgrounds, yet we neglect to recognize the golden treasure locked away inside every person that emblazons our nation’s narrative.

Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, reminds us to celebrate the stories and past of the largest minority in the United States, accounting for roughly 17% of the population. Hispanic Heritage Month marks a special time for Hispanic people to reminisce upon and share their histories, while encouraging people of all races to take a moment to learn and appreciate the contributions and rich backgrounds of the Hispanic community. For thirty days, Hispanic organizations promote programs, such as plays and discussions, while individuals reflect on their experiences and honor their countries’ heritage through vibrant and provocative celebrations.

Worcester Academy is home to both Hispanic teachers and students alike. Dr. Gladys Vasquez identifies as Hispanic, specifically Guatemalan, and has been teaching Spanish (currently AP Literature and IV(honors)) at Worcester Academy for three years now. She believes in communicating the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month through class discussions and projects, in which students choose a group or individual who has had (or still has) considerable impact on the Hispanic community in the United States. For this project the students write an essay along with an artistic production of their choice, past examples have been poems, paintings or even songs. For her, the most meaningful part of Hispanic Heritage Month is “shedding a light on the very positive contributions of the Hispanic community in very different fields” and seeing the surprise on students’ faces when they learn more about Hispanic history. She hopes that by “inciting conversations that will allow people to break through stereotypes and appreciate neighbors, people living around us and listen openly to that”, true personal and national value can be affixed to Hispanic Heritage Month.

Likewise, Hispanic Heritage Month is very symbolic to Hispanic students at Worcester Academy and they agree projects which people of all races can learn from is a great way to spread the word. Karen Morales is an 11th grade student who identifies as Mexican and Salvadoran; she is also a member of Worcester Academy’s Hispanic affinity club, Nuestra Voz. Nuestra Voz is planning on showing Coco, a movie deftly expressing the beauty and wonder of Mexican culture, in Warner Theatre on Saturday October 6th. Hispanic Heritage Month for Karen “is a time to celebrate not just my own culture but that of everyone who identifies as Hispanic as well” and she believes one of the best ways for our school to celebrate is it “simply acknowledging it and then attending stuff that other organizations make and going out of their way to attend other meetings”.

For the past several years, Worcester Academy’s guiding theme has been “How can we honor and harness the power of our stories?”. The celebrations and attitudes towards Hispanic Heritage Month at Worcester Academy are an impeccable example of how students and faculty can jump start the process of digging back through our minds for whose golden experiences and life lessons stored away and spread their light and value to all those who listen.

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