“In the unity of our nations rests the glorious future of our peoples.” – Simon Bolivar
The hispanic culture is not new to what is now the United States. It already existed back in the XVI century with the arrival of the Conquistadores from Spain, who brought the language, horses, cows, and a myriad of cultural wealth.
In modern times the hispanic community continued moving and many came to the United States and is now by far the largest immigration group of people. As the Conquistadores, these people bring with themselves their rich cultural heritage: language, music, their athletic and intellectual skills, religion, and above all, the desire to integrate themselves with a new anglo culture and become a positive force for the community.
Whenever I encounter someone from any walk of life, I am ALWAYS intrigued and curious to know his/her heritage. If it is a Spanish-speaking person, I first try to guess through his/her accent from what country that person is. Once I get to know the person, I create a certain bond through his/her folk music, main poet or literature icon, a sportsmen star, or through the description of a geographical landmark. What does that connection do between two strangers? It immediately opens the hearts, minds, trust, and creates a big smile through the acknowledgment of our heritage, identity and idiosyncrasy. It is walking through life with a heavy backpack filled with a plurality of colors. literature, music, taste, and knowing that we are ONE no matter where we come from. I cherish, respect and nurture, and for sure, pass along this philosophy of life to my kids.
The main trait of the Hispanic people is that they are diligent, perseverant, and hard working. For instance, in the mid-70s my parents came to the US from Venezuela with a few luggage, three kids, no English, scholarships, a dream, and the determination to get an advanced education. After three years, we all went back home with a new language, two master’s degrees each, and a world of experiences thanks to their effort and the opportunity given to them. This experience allowed us to grow intellectually and culturally, opening our minds in different angles.
As for myself, I have made it a passion and a responsibility to know and understand my heritage, to go deeper into the history of my people. Throughout the years I have traveled through numerous countries in Central America and South America with the main purpose to explore, to understand, and to internalize their culture. In this regard, I take deep the meaning of the African word SANKOFA, that says: “We must look back to the past so that we may understand how we became what we are, and move forward to a better future.”
The National Hispanic Heritage Month, established in the late 60s, is a way to honor all the immigrants of Spanish descent, be it from Spain, Central America, South America, and a few Caribbean nations that have called the USA their new home. May this month serve as a way to honor and acknowledge the Hispanic Culture through its complexities and beauty.
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” ― Gabriel García Márquez
By Frank Diaz