‘We want to show that we are proud’

Hispanic students and faculty reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month

Fern Biswas (10) admires the Diego Rivera bulletin board in Main Hall, which features over 150 paintings about Rivera’s dream of what North America would be like. Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and honors different types of Hispanic culture in the world.

Vika Gautham

Fern Biswas (10) admires the Diego Rivera bulletin board in Main Hall, which features over 150 paintings about Rivera’s dream of what North America would be like. Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and honors different types of Hispanic culture in the world.

When she hears the words Hispanic Heritage Month, upper school mathematics teacher Jeanette Fernandez thinks of bringing awareness to others who aren’t as knowledgeable of the Hispanic culture in America. She thinks about highlighting people who contributed to where Hispanic people stand now in the United States. 

“We don’t necessarily read about [Hispanic culture] in a lot of the history books, so this is our way of being able to educate those who have not heard of these important figures,” Fernandez, who identifies as Mexican, said. “We have a lot of [Hispanic] people in our community here at Harker who the entire community may not know. Facilities, office staff, kitchen staff: we have a lot of members in our community too who make a big contribution to Harker, and it’s important to recognize that.”

Hispanic Heritage Month first started out as a commemorative week, introduced in 1968. As time passed, the week was expanded by President George H.W. Bush to be a 31-day commemoration, now known as National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated across America. Now, it is an observance that celebrates people who identify as a part of the Hispanic community from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. At Harker, the Latinx affinity group aims to bring the Harker community an understanding of the Latin culture through various events and activities. 

Jacob Fernandez (12), a member of the Latinx affinity group, will create bulletin boards with books and music by famous Hispanic artists, an initiative that started last year to share Hispanic culture with students during Hispanic Heritage month. This year, Latinx affinity group is also curating stories about Hispanic culture from the Latinx faculty, students and kitchen staff to be shared on these bulletin boards. 

“Come see our bulletin board because we do put work into it,” Jacob said. ”I know last year, a couple students saw the board and either read one of the books or listened to some of the music in it. We really appreciate that — giving your attention to what we are trying to do — because it shows that the students are caring about one of the minority [groups] at Harker.” 

Makayla Aguilar (12), another member of the Latinx affinity group, finds comfort in her heritage, and appreciates the closeness it brings to her. Connecting to her El Salvadoran heritage is important to Makayla, which she does through many ways: whether it be at home, where she and her Hispanic friends complain to family tendencies, or at school through Latinx.

The Latinx affinity group would like to educate the community here on campus. Hopefully we can showcase, even though it’s small here, and we have a lot of different Latino cultures within here, so we’d like to showcase that as well. We want to show that we are proud, and love to be in the Harker community”

— Jeanette Fernandez, upper school mathematics teacher

“I think being in the affinity group is one way I really connected to my culture,” Makayla said. “My brother went to Harker, and there wasn’t an affinity group yet, and he felt isolated during school. But I think [being] Latinx really brings us together, and we can come together and work on educating people on Spanish holidays and culture.”

Others connect to their culture in various different ways, including food, dance or everyday traditions that are popular within their families or cultures.

Saahil Herrero (10) enjoys celebrating his own home traditions with his family, such as eating paella on Christmas, or watching sports, especially soccer.

“Every weekend, my brother, dad and I rewatch Spanish Soccer,” Saahil said. “We watch our favorite team, Real Madrid, because that’s where my dad is from. So, watching that, I feel like that does connect to my Spanish culture — watching soccer. All my family in Spain also watches soccer, so it’s really rooted in our family.”

With all the different Hispanic cultures across the world, this month acknowledges all who identify as Hispanic. Spreading awareness about what exactly being Hispanic means is important, and what the heritage month and Latinx seek out to do.

“The Latinx affinity group would like to educate the community here on campus,” Fernandez said. “Hopefully we can showcase, even though it’s small here, and we have a lot of different Latino cultures within here, so we’d like to showcase that as well. We want to show that we are proud, and love to be in the Harker community.”