Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month
“Washington, D.C., April 15, 2021 — The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM), announced the 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month observance theme: “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” The theme invites us to celebrate Hispanic Heritage and to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope. It encourages us to reflect on all of the contributions Hispanics have made in the past, and will continue to make in the future. It is also a reminder that we are stronger together.
Wednesday – 9/15 was a celebration of Colombia! This was the first day celebrating Spanish speaking countries during National Hispanic Heritage Month. St. Paul’s World Language Department will be highlighting the 21 Spanish speaking countries throughout the month and displaying their flags, as well as playing cultural music, among other things. The Spanish Club students will be leading some of the after school activities.
Thursday – 9/16 was a celebration of Mexico!
Friday – 9/17 – Paraguay Day; Visiting the country of #paraguay. None of my students knew anything about this Spanish Speaking country in South America. It was a great learning day.
Monday – 9/20 – Celebrating the country of Ecuador. Quito the capital located at the highest altitude in the world. Home of the oldest tortoises in the Galapagos Island. The country is also referred to as the bellybutton of the world for its 0 latitude and 0 longitude location in the world. Viva viva Ecuador.
Tuesday – 9/21 – Señora celebrated Argentina. Today I am representing a Gaucho/a from Argentina. The land of Las Pampas (grasslands) and where El Mate drink is more popular than coffee. The gaucho (similar to the cowboy) is very symbolic to the Argentinian culture. They represent the hard working cattle ranchers and horse riders of the land and their history goes back to the mid 18th century. ¡Viva Argentina, Che!
Wednesday – 9/22 – Señora was representing the beautiful Costa Rica. The country with great exotic animals, birds, bugs, and more. The beautiful white sand beaches, volcanos, forests, thermal pools, hanging bridges, and gorgeous waterfalls are amazing. It is considered the happiest Latin American country in the world. If you are an adventurous person and love the outdoors this is the place to visit.
Thursday – 9/23 – Señora was representing Puerto Rico. The island is rich in history and culture. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. It is considered the cradle of Christianity in the Western Hemisphere. This year, the San Juan Bautista cathedral is celebrating 500 years since it was built. It is also the place where the remains of the first governor Juan Ponce de Leon are kept. The three cultures celebrated in Puerto Rico are Taino Indians, African, and European from Spain.
Friday – 9/24 – Señora presented the country of Honduras to her classes! The cradle of the Mayan civilization. This Central American country is rich in minerals , tropical fruits, beautiful landscapes, and natural wonders. It is where the expression “banana republic”originated from. The most famous tourist attractions are the second largest coral reef in the world, and the Copan Mayan ruins. Their typical dance “Punta” was created by the Garífuna ethnic group from Africa and is considered an important cultural heritage.
Monday – 9/27 – Celebrating the Merengue country of República Dominicana. The most visited island in the Caribbean with 6 million guests every year. Its beautiful beaches, coffee plantations, waterfalls, and gorgeous mountains, are some of the many attractions to explore. The most famous spot to visit is Punta Cana. This land is where Christopher Columbus first settled in 1492. It has the oldest church in the New World and is rich in Spanish Heritage. Its flag is the only one in the world that has the Bible on the flag emblem.
Tuesday – 9/28 we featured the country of Bolivia. The Chola women are known for their hats, bright clothing and accessories. Surrounded by 5 other countries, Bolivia is one of two countries in South America that is landlocked. The region was previously part of the Inca Empire and is the home of thousands of species, a fertile plant life and snow covered mountains. It shares the highest navigable lake in the world with Paraguay. The country is named after Simon Bolívar, the military leader who liberated five South American countries from Spain. Spanish and 36 indigenous languages are spoken in the region and they are all considered official languages by their constitution.
Wednesday – 9/29 Panamá was represented, the land that connects with South America. Its capital is the only one in the world with a rainforest. It also houses more bird species than the US and Canada combined. This small country the size of South Carolina has an abundance of resources. It has 500 rivers, 7 indigenous groups, and a popular ecotourism. A third of the country is a Natural Park Land. Panamá is the bridge between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. You can swim in both bodies of water on the same day. It is also the only place in the world where you can see the sunrise in the Pacific and the sun set in the Atlantic on the same day. The Pollera women wear the most expensive outfits, with elaborate headpieces, many gold necklaces and bracelets. They take between six to twelve months to make. They are the most expensive traditional dresses in the world.
Country # 12. Representing Cuba, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, a country in a time capsule where a plethora of antique cars, world class cigars, el Son music, and nine UNESCO World Heritage sites can be found. It is the largest island in the Caribbean, the land size equal to Pennsylvania. The smallest bird (2 inches long ) in the world lives in their forests and 368 other species of birds are found. They are rich in sugar, tobacco, and nickel. Cuba has Indigenous, European, and an abundance of African Heritage influences which includes music, religions, and cuisine, to name a few. The shape of the island resembles a crocodile from an aerial view. One prehistoric fish called Manjuari is now only found in Cuba. They have the best baseball players and many have played in the MLB. The home of the Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz, and the place where Ernest Hemingway lived for twenty years and was inspired to write some of his great books.
Country # 13. Learning about Venezuela and it’s beautiful landscapes. Also named “Little Venice” by Américo Vespucci in 1499, after he saw houses built on the water. Venezuelans enjoy ancient cities, tropical forests, pristine beaches, numerous small islands, high mountains with flat peaks, the largest lake in South America, and three World Heritage Sites. Considered among the 10 mega-diverse countries in the world with 52% of forest land. They have one of the largest oil reserves in the world and they export crude oil, iron ore, and coffee. They are 96% Roman Catholic, and love baseball. “Since 1932 about 397 Venezuela born baseball players have played for MLB”. You can also find Angel Falls( Salto de Ángel) the tallest in the world. Venezuelans are proud to have the most beauty pageant crowns (23) in the world.
Country # 14. Representing the Norteñas from the country of Nicaragua. The largest country in Central America with incredible natural beauty. It has beautiful tropical beaches, lakes, forests, a variety of birds, and animals, only found in the country. There are many dozens of volcanos including the iconic stratovolcano Momotombo, and rich soil for many different fruits and vegetables. It has the largest lake in Central America, and you can find beautiful pristine Spanish colonial arquitecture in the city of Grenada. It is the birth of the famous poet Ruben Dario, and baseball player J. C. Ramirez from the Cincinnati Reds. There is a wealth of history and culture dating back to the pre-Colombian times.
Country # 15. We “traveled” to Chile, the longest country in the world, and known for the longest stretch of beaches, and the Andes Mountains Range. Its fascinating Easter Island, with the 1,000 stone statues, intrigues tourists from around the world. Two Chileans, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral have won the Nobel Prize in literature. Their work have been translated in many languages and taught in universities worldwide. They love soccer, and they excell in the sport of tennis. You can also find the Atacama Desert, the driest one in the world. There are sections of the desert where it has not rained in over 100 years. The desert’s surface resembles the surface of the moon. Chile ranks as the safest country in South America. It has the tallest sky scraper in S.A. , largest swimming pool in the world, six UNESCO World Heritage sites, a total of 2,900 volcanos, a rich multiethnic culture where the Cueca dance is very popular. Deep in the tip of the southern region of the Patagonia you can see glaciers and unique wildlife. In Chile you can ski and surf in the same day.
Country # 16. Representing Uruguay, the second smallest country in South America. It Is located between Brazil and Argentina. They love their mate drink, and consume the most beef in the world. It is where the Tango dance was invented, and top -class beaches can be found along the Atlantic coast. Also known as “the Switzerland of South America” where many foreign retirees love to call home. Cities like Maldonado offers lots of free entertainment, from dance classes to free music. There are many different ethnicities and cultures living in Uruguay including Italians, Spanish, Irish, and many more. Punta del Este is South America’s premier beach resort. It also has the most reliable electrical grid in Latin America. It has clean air, sparkling waters and plenty of green spaces. About 87% in the country are of European descent. The climate is mild and free of earthquakes and hurricanes. There are two World Heritage sites, beautiful landscapes, a rich indigenous culture, multiple languages, including Guarani, and seven native animals.
Country # 17. We explored El Salvador, translated in Spanish means, “The Savior”. It is also referred as “The Land of Volcanoes”. The smallest country in Central America and the only one without access to the Atlantic Ocean. The land was first occupied by the Mayans before the Spanish came to the region. The beautiful Pacific Ocean coast beaches are a surfer’s paradise. The magnificent waves attract profesional surfers worldwide and surfing competitions have been held there. To see some of the best sunsets in the world you can visit El Tunco beach. There are several unique places to explore: Crater Lake Coatepeque, UNESCO World Heritage site, (Joya de Cerea also called, the Pompeii of the Americas); five archeological parks; the largest shopping centre in Central America; 500 different species of birds and rare species of black-hawk eagle; marine turtle and red macaw. Their coffee is also known worldwide. Soccer is the most popular sport, and they are proud of one of their best players Mágico González, considered one of the greatest players in the Northern American Region’s history. El Salvador is one of the few countries that still cultivate the indigo plant, popular during the colonial period.
Tuesday – October 12 – Country # 18. Learning about the only Spanish speaking country in Europe, and the fourth most visited in the world. Spain is officially known as the Kingdom of Spain. It is famous for having the first best seller novel in Europe in 1605. The book Don Quijote the La Mancha is the second most read book after the Bible. Spain has 49 recognized UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its first settlers were Iberians, Basques, and Celts. During Pre-Roman age many different groups and cultures dominated the Penninsula, also called Hispania. The Phoenicians, Carthagenians, and Greeks were among them. Later, the Roman Empire ruled the land for over 600 years. They left behind many Roman structures, architecture wonders, amphitheaters, Aqueduct of Segovia, temples, and significant Roman ruins. Tarragona is the oldest Roman settlement and Sevilla has the oldest gothic cathedral in the world and is the resting place of Christopher Columbus. After the Romans and Visigoth conquests, the Arabs/Moors controlled Spain for 700 years. Over 4,000 Spanish words come from the Arabic language. In Altamira, Cantabria, the Paleolithic Cave art can be found. Other amazing sites are; La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the largest open air aquarium in Valencia, with 500 different species. El Prado Museum in Madrid houses 2,300 paintings and the world’s richest collection of Spanish greatest masterpieces such as ; Picasso, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez(Las Meninas), Salvador Dali, and hundreds more. Other interesting sites are; Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, where the remains of Saint James are said to be buried, and The Burgos Cathedral where El Cid is buried. There are 800 beaches, lots of paellas, best olive oil, flamenco music and dancing. There are many reasons why more than 83.7 million people visit Spain every year.
Thursday – 10/14 – Country # 19 – Equatorial Guinea, located in Central Africa and closest to the Ecuador. It also has five small islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 1.4 million. The only country in Africa with Spanish as its official and National language. It was sighted by Europeans in 1471 and first colonized by Portugal and later by Spain in 1778. You can find beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, Volcano Peak Pico Basilé, Malabo National Park, tropical forests, gorgeous cathedrals, white sand beaches, exotic animals (gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, leopards,crocodiles, monkeys, hippos, and antelopes). It is the home of the Goliath frog, the biggest in the world. It is considered the third richest country in Africa per GDP per-capita. Their wealth comes from oil reserves, minerals, gas, exports of coffee and cocoa. In addition to Spanish, other official languages include Portuguese and French, and 15 unofficial languages. Christianity is the dominant religion and Christian holidays are celebrated. The pygmies are very short people in stature and live in regions of the country. The climate is hot and humid. One of the wettest places in the world and the wettest in Africa is found in Village Ureca. About 411 inches of water fall every year. There are many traditional costumes that reflect the multiethnic and multilingual culture.
Friday – 10/15 – Country # 20 – We head out to the Land of the Inca Civilization, an empire larger than the imperial Rome. Perú is located in the Andes mountains of Sourh America. The cradle of the Inca empire before the encounter with the Europeans. One of their most famous sites is Manchu Pichu, one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was never discovered or found by the Spaniards. Instead, it was discovered in 1911 by a Hiram Bingham, a Yale Professor and researcher from Connecticut. They brought close to 400,000 artifacts found on the site to New Haven Ct and displayed them in the Peabody Museum until they were returned before the 100 anniversary of the discovery in 2011. Some of the artifacts continue to be researched in CT. The Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake above sea level in the world and also the largest in South America. The country is rich in archeological sites, it has two of the world’s deepest canyons (twice as deep as the US. Grand Canyon) in the world, the famous mysterious Nazca Lines, the worlds highest sand dunes, the birth of the potatoes and where you can find 4,000 varieties in different sizes and colors. Perú is also the birth of surfing and where the Amazon River begins. They have three official languages, Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. Caral-Supe is believed to be the oldest site occupied by humans in the Americas, dating back to 5,000 years. Three quarters of the Alpacas in the world live in Perú. The llamas and vicuña animals also live in Perú. Roasted guinea pig – cuy – is the National dish. Almost every weaving technique was invented by the Peruvian people. Every person in Peru receives one poncho when they reach adulthood and it’s suppose to last a lifetime. (I hope to visit this beautiful country with my students in summer of 2023)