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The Heritage
Lives On

Many Hispanics around America celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Itzel Alvarado-Ovando, Staff Writer

Thursday, September 21, 2023

(The Patriot Press) - This title encompasses so many countries, so many backgrounds, and so many traditions that are often melded into one. Even within our own community, we feel put into the same box despite how differently we grow up. Yet the one thing we hold so deeply close is the ability that we are able to be called Hispanic. 

A lot of our Hispanic student population at West Carteret is first generation yet there are many who are second or third which contributes even further to our differences. One thing to make very clear: Hispanic does NOT equal Latino. To put it simply, being Hispanic is related to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, this definition marks various countries as Hispanic other than just Mexico and Spain. However, being Latino means that you are ethnically from Latin American countries such as Uruguay and Panama. What people fail to realize is that many of our Hispanic students are more than just Mexican, many are Honduran, Columbian, Argentinian, or a mix of more. According to the US Census, since July 1, 2022, the population of Hispanics throughout the United States has grown to 63.7 million which makes it the largest minority group in the US, which makes it even more important to be aware of the ever-growing population of Hispanics in our community and within the country. 

This statistic is prevalent in our very own community of Carteret County, but although our population is growing it's very difficult to grow the culture as well. For parents raising first-generation Hispanic-American children, it can be very difficult to instill these customs because as they mature, they learn English, eat “American” food, watch “American” shows and all this media influences how their minds develop. In the case of language, Spanish usually ends up being the first one learned among them, but school and their growing social life end up limiting their Spanish while their English flourishes. This was the circumstance with student Luciano Botta, where he stated “While my English became far better, my Spanish has greatly deteriorated, although I know Spanish fluently my pronunciation is often flawed because I counteracted it.” Even in my personal experience, I have found that I deal with the same situation, although I try to develop my Spanish, it is very difficult to do when it's only spoken at home and with a few people. 

There is no doubt that parents are often too busy to immerse their children in the same culture that they grew up in, but many students still find that their parents try to instill pride and honor in their heritage. A senior student at West Carteret stated “ I think my parents taught me the best that they could regarding my culture. However, I think it's different to be taught it than to be fully immersed the way I would be if I lived in a Hispanic country or in a larger Hispanic community…Although I may not feel connected with it all the time, I do enjoy the food, music, and some of the fundamental values of Hispanic culture, like the family values we have.” 

In a community where Hispanic Heritage is hard to integrate it is important to appreciate the figures who do an amazing job at teaching Hispanic students and the Hispanic culture to students of other backgrounds such as Mrs. Herbst, who not only incorporates the teaching of the Spanish language but also Hispanic, artists, literary figures, athletes, music, food, history, and geography. It is important to acknowledge Mrs. Powers and Mrs. Leech who also teach Spanish but are willing to learn about Hispanic Heritage and promote its growth among others. 

High School is such a formative time in a young person’s life, it also happens to be a time when many young Hispanic Americans learn to appreciate their culture even more and embrace their roots with full minds, and although this is a month to dedicated to celebrating the many Hispanic-Americans, the richness this culture holds is capable of being of value to members of any other. 

Source: Bureau, U. C. (2023, August 17). Hispanic Heritage Month: 2023.

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