By Annette Mares-Duran, Member Services Manager
National Hispanic Heritage Month, also recognized as Latino or Latinx Heritage Month, is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15.
As a New Mexican woman, I often get asked “What is the correct word to use? Hispanic, Chicana, Latino, Latinx?” The reality is that there isn’t just one word. It depends on the person and the context. I’d like to share this video created by Antonio Campos and Zak Long at the University of California that talks about the origins of these words and why they’re used. It will take 7 minutes of your life, check it out! If you have more time, read their article.
To honor this month I’ll offer, from my perspective, a few ways to celebrate. I want to share successes, regular life stories, and for you to enjoy the creations of Hispanic people.
Read books. There are many great options, but here are five of my favorites:
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the start of October, making it the perfect time to pick up a horror novel by a talented Latinx author!
- Bless Me Ultima by Rodolfo Anaya – As a New Mexican myself, I had to add something based in my beautiful home state.
- The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende – If you’re into magic realism, this is for you.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – This is an enjoyable young adult book. I recommend anything by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
- The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
Make it a movie night.
- Some kid friendly options are Vivo and Pachamama. Both are on Netflix. Don’t forget about Disney’s Coco and Encanto!
- If you haven’t seen Selena, get to your TV now! This was a childhood staple for me, and it wouldn’t be right if Selena wasn’t at the top of your list.
- Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón gives you a glimpse into the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Fun fact: Cuarón also directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- I recently watched a teen comedy drama series, Love Victor. Michael Cimino stars as Victor, a teen from a half Puerto Rican, half Colombian American family living in Atlanta. If you are looking for a lighthearted watch, look it up!
- If you like scary movies, you can watch La Llorona! This version was directed by a Guatemalan-born director and came out in 2019, the same year the American version Curse of La Llorona was released. Don’t confuse the two! Both draw inspiration from the same folktale but are quite different.
Listen to stories and music.
- NPRs 2021 Special Series on Hispanic Heritage Month – Although this is from last year, I enjoyed this series and they’re worth a listen.
- Learning Spanish? Me too! I like listening to the Duolingo Podcast because you can improve language skills while gaining perspectives on the world by listening to short, easy-to-follow, real life stories.
- Spotify has some stellar playlists to listen to. I’m never good at remembering song titles and artists. Luckily, Spotify can do this for me!
Okay this point is random, but it is one of my favorite birthday traditions. Look for a local piñata maker in your area, invite family/friends over and have some fun! You can see a photo of me here enjoying my handmade birthday piñata with my familia!
Use The Forum on Education Abroad resources.
- Attend the workshop Supporting Diverse Students on Study Abroad in-person OR virtually. In my former life working at a large public HSI, I find this workshop valuable.
- Read the articles available through Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad
- Rewriting the Narrative: An Anti-Deficit Perspective on Study Abroad Participation Among Students of Color
- Assets-Based Learning Abroad: First-Generation Latinx College Students Leveraging and Increasing Community Cultural Wealth in Costa Rica
- Pre-order A House where all Belong: Redesigning Education Abroad for Inclusive Excellence or Voices from the South: Decolonial Perspectives in International Education. These books are part of the Standards in Action Book Series.
As the Member Services Manager at The Forum on Education Abroad, I’d like to close out by giving a special shoutout to our Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). You’re appreciated!