Hispanic by heritage - Americans now
By KRISTEN STERNBERG
NIE EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT
The U.S. Census Bureau defines "Hispanic" as "those of Hispanic origin, in particular, those who indicated [on the census] that their origin was Mexican-American, Chicano, Mexican, Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Hispanic." Census reports for the year 2000 show a large increase in U.S. residents who identify themselves as Hispanic. That trend is also reflected in locally. How are Hispanic immigrants overcoming the challenges of coping with a new language, a foreign culture and unfamiliar customs?
Dressed in traditional Colombian costume, Christian Rodriguez, 11, and his sister Katherine, 13, dance La Cumbia - La Pollera Colora during a Colombian Independence Day dinner. (Photo: News-Journal/Gregg Pachkowski)
An equal voice in government and all layers of society is important for citizens regardless of their heritage or ethnic background, so that they have a say in how things are run--from government to business to education and so on. Are Hispanics represented in society in proportion to their numbers?
A recent news article pointed out the increasing importance of the Hispanic vote in American politics. The Hispanic influence is showing itself in American culture, not only in national and local governments but also in other ways. Americans owe some of their current interest in soccer, for example, to Hispanic culture. Our language borrows many words from Spanish, and the availability of Latino foods-in neighborhood restaurants and markets as well as in grocery stores-influences the eating habits of many people in the United States.
More and more students pursue higher education, because people of many cultures see education as a way to better themselves in life. The News-Journal published a story about one Hispanic student's college graduation, which made family, friends and a whole community proud. Some schools have adapted their courses to make school more meaningful and inclusive of all cultural differences including those of Hispanics. Bilingual education schools (some subjects are taught in English and Spanish, for example) and school vouchers that allow parents and kids to choose schools that specialize in math, science, music or sports, for example, have also helped kids overcome the obstacles immigrants may face.
It has often been a struggle for immigrant groups to accept, and be accepted into, "American" culture while still holding onto their own traditions. At one time, immigrants were encouraged to forget their heritage and customs in order to seem more "American." Important pieces of history were lost in the process. Nowadays, people understand the importance of preserving languages, cultures and traditions, and most recognize that American culture is enriched whenever (and actually exists because) people add their heritage to it.
Everyone has ties to other countries or ethnic groups if they trace their family history back far enough. No matter what group you most strongly identify with, you'll probably enjoy checking out some cultural festivals to learn more about others. Such celebrations typically welcome all members of the community to join in celebrating a cultural heritage. Central Florida, like many other places, is rich in opportunities to learn about other cultures including Hispanic ones. You can visit a museum such as the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, for example, to check out a large collection of Cuban art, or try to attend an event like the recent, open air Mariachi music concert. Look for contests like this art competition sponsored by the Mexican government for kids in U.S. schools, or join a club or performing group, like these kids who showed off their talents at the Volusia County Hispanic Association's talent show. Be sure, too, to check out the newspaper activities and Web sites provided below for fun and learning!
Other News-Journal Articles
Rotary program promotes cultural ties
Spanish isn’t Lisa Dunn’s native tongue or even a part of her heritage, but it’s opened a world of opportunity for the 25-year-old bilingual education teacher.
City festival shows off mix of people, food, cultures
Balanced precariously on his tippy-toes, 3-year-old Jiovanni Garcia found a little solace from the sun while playing with brightly colored plastic ducks waiting to be plucked out of their wading pool by local children hoping for a prize.
Try these interesting activities using The News-Journal
- You can earn a better appreciation of Hispanic cultures by learning more about their traditions and customs such as the foods they eat. Scan your newspaper for advertisements and articles about restaurants in your community with a Mexican, Cuban or other Latin American flavor. Ask a parent or guardian to take you to one or more. While you are there try to learn about their customs and some new words in a language other than English. Why not suggest that your family try different ethnic restaurants so you can learn more about other cultures? (Sunshine State Standards: FL.B.1.2.2, FL.B.1.2.3, FL.D.2.2.3, LA.A.1.2.2, LA.A.2.2.5)
Los Estrellas Latinas, a dance troupe from Palm Coast, dance to "Merengue Remix" at the Night of Stars show in Deltona sponsored by the Volusia County Hispanic Association. (N-J/Mark Pearlman)
- Census figures show an increasing number of Hispanics choose to make their homes in America. Why might people from countries want to immigrate to the United States in the 21st century? Make a list of 5 or more reasons a family might wish to emigrate from their native country to America. Use a newspaper to find articles, photographs or ads that relate to each item on your list. (Sunshine State Standards: SS.A.6.2.1, SS.A.6.2.4, SS.B.1.2.5, SS.B.2.2.2, SS.B.2.2.3, SS.B.2.2.4)
- Spanish is the official language of most Hispanic regions. It is the first, and often only, language Hispanic children learn to speak. One obstacle many Spanish-speaking immigrants must overcome, when they come to the U.S., is a language barrier. Imagine you have recently moved to the United States and are just beginning to learn English. List five sentences you think would be important to learn to say in English. Using your newspaper, find and clip words that appear in your list. Glue them in sentence form and display with your original list. (Sunshine State Standards: LA.A.2.2.5, FL.A.1.2.2, FL.A.1.2.3, FL.A.2.2.1, FL.A.3.2.3)
- Many words in English have been adopted from the Spanish language. As you read your newspaper, keep a list of words that originated in Spanish. You can consult a dictionary to find the origins of most words, if you're not sure. If you're a Spanish speaker, be sure to try this activity the other way around--What Spanish words can you think of that are English in origin? (Sunshine State Standards: FL.A.2.2.4, FL.A.2.2.7, FL.A.3.2.2, FL.C.1.2.2, FL.D.1.2.1, FL.D.1.2.2, FL.D.2.2.2, FL.E.1.2.1)
- The positive deeds and acts of many, many Hispanics have enriched America. Discuss ways people from all cultures contribute to our nation's history, economy, and society. Next, search your newspaper for articles, photos and advertisements featuring Hispanics and people from other ethnic groups in positive situations. Clip and display your findings on a wall or bulletin board, and add photos of you and your friends from many cultural backgrounds. (Sunshine State Standards: SS.A.6.2.4, SS.A.6.2.5, SS.B.1.2.5)
A copy of Florida's Sunshine State Standards can be found at intech2000.miamisci.org.
Check out these links to learn more
When was National Hispanic Heritage Month established in the United States, and what's the history behind it? Take a look at the interesting and historical evolution of this event. latino.sscnet.ucla.edu/heritage/hhhispan.htm
Audencio Garza, a Stetson University junior, shows off his shirt with the name of the new Hispanic Organization for Latin American Awareness -- H.O.L.A. (Photo: News-Journal/Kelly Jordan)
At this well-organized and fascinating site - http://gale.cengage.com/free_resources/chh/ - you can click on links to biographies of famous Hispanic American men and women. You can also learn about the rich and diverse music of Hispanic America, find a historical timeline highlighting milestones in Hispanic American history and check out other sites about the people, issues, events, history and culture of Hispanic America.
View an interactive map, take a look at interviews with some noted Latinos and discover what heritage means to a selection of Hispanic American superstars as you browse these pages. teacher.scholastic.com/hispanic/
Visit a Web site dedicated to Hispanic culture. You'll find music, history, current events and more in Spanish and in English. www.latinworld.com/
The Newspaper Association of America's web site contains links to many newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. Visit the site and check some of them out, to see if they have recently published any articles on this topic. To access the newspapers at the site, select a state. Click on the "Internationals" button to view choices from other countries.
Published October 8, 2001
Revised September 2007