Students, Faculty Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

From September 15 to October 15, Hispanic Heritage month spotlights the contributions Latinos have made in America.

At Riverside, students in Claribel Andujar’s Spanish classes, as well as with the contribution of other Spanish classes, put up an exhibition in the front lobby. The students completed “investigation projects” of every Spanish speaking country. They created pamphlets of information from what products are exported to the well known and famous people originating from their assigned country that were posted on the cutouts that Andujar created herself. 

“The Hispanic community is a community that is constantly growing” Andujar says. “There are many Latinos who have been distinguishing themselves, so it is important to highlight the arduous work of these people…”

Her students also learned how to make traditional paper flowers and decorations seen throughout different Spanish speaking countries and added them to the exhibition.

 Dance teacher Kristen Duncan’s students also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. In an event lasting 3 weeks, for one day every week, Hispanic culture was represented through a series of events. On the first day of the first week that started in October 24, her Latino students taught the rest of the class how to dance traditional dances. In years prior, there have been students who have shared with the class how to dance Cumbia as well as Bachata, which originate in Colombia and the Dominican Republic respectively. 

On the second day the following week, powerpoints with pictures of the community they currently live in or from the country they are from are presented giving the rest of the students an idea of where they grew up. Pictures of Quinceañeras are usually a part of their slides. Quinceañeras, a traditional celebration for many hispanic families where a girl “converts from a child to a young mature woman” shares senior Jessica Flores.

 In previous years, Duncan shares, a student documented their trip to Mexico to celebrate their grandmother’s 105th birthday. Duncan says, “It was very interesting to see how they were cooking and where they were cooking” giving her and the class a small glimpse into their homes and celebrations.

 On the third day following that week, traditional foods are brought in to share with the rest of the class. In previous years, students have brought in tamales, chicken mole, tacos and lots of other dishes. Senior Lizbeth Polanco recalls what they did for this event last year saying, “We danced to el payaso de rodeo” or rodeo clown, a line dance usually done during wedding parties, quinceañeras, and other festivities. 

Flores remembers having brought in tinga, a traditionally Mexican food consisting of shredded chicken in a tomato based sauce. 

Duncan, whom isn’t new to Mexican or Venezuelan food having lived in Mexico for 3 years and having visited Venezuela twice, enjoys the different flavors each dish brings. 

To accompany the food, they watch a film. “I’m thinking of playing Coco this year,” she says. Coco, a film based off of a traditional Mexican celebration, El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead would be played wrapping up their 3 week long event.

“How rich every single one of these countries are in culture, traditions, food.” Andujar says. “This is what is being represented. Their dance, their music.”

Photo courtesy of Juliana Castillo

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