Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed annually from September 15-October 15, honors the rich histories and cultures of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, and commemorates their substantial influence and countless contributions to American society. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Bosque School’s 7th-grade Heritage Spanish class visited the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), wrote reflections about their personal experiences, created self-portraits, and delivered presentations about their own Hispanic role models. 

As part of their visit to the NHCC, students viewed the Mundos de Mestizaje, a mural by artist Frederico Vigil, which depicts more than 3,000 years of Hispanic history from Europe to Mesoamerica to the American Southwest. It illustrates the intersections between migration, conflict, arts, language, and sciences, and underscores the diverse complexities of the Hispanic experience. Seventh-grade teacher, Profesor Martínez de León feels the mural will encourage his students to reflect on their personal experiences as individuals and as members of their families and communities and that the students will begin to recognize the importance of their own stories and their ancestors’ stories within a greater historical context. He says, “We saw how history impacted our ancestors and [thought about] how we respond in our daily lives to their legacy. We found the fresco shows a section unfinished. We interpreted it as our history, still not done. We were, we are, and we will continue sharing our values and strengths as a community.” 

The field trip to the NHCC was definitely one of the highlights of Hispanic Heritage Month for the 7th graders, but it was just one of the many things Profesor Martínez de León does throughout the year to encourage his students. “Every year is a new opportunity to celebrate with a new vision and purpose. With a focus on diversity and inclusion this year, I hope students celebrate this holiday in the right way and help Hispanic friends and relatives feel valued and supported,” he says. “It’s essential to understand why we are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as help everybody understand the significance of this month and take our celebrations beyond a hashtag on social media.” 

Profesor Martínez de León hopes that the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month will inspire his students to “celebrate this holiday every single day of {their} lives by sharing our language, speaking, and maintaining our Spanish everywhere—in and out of the classroom.” He wants his students to feel comfortable advocating for themselves and their communities, and he asks them to focus on these three things:  educating and informing others; acknowledging and responding to disparities; and recognizing that their cultural influence always adds to the global community. He also asks his students to recognize the significance of the month and how it can act as an impetus for change on a broader scale, and he reminds them,  “{Hispanic Heritage Month} serves as a moment when we can refocus on the issues confronting our LatinX community and re-energize us for the work during the coming full year.”