Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Assembly: “We Tell the Stories”

IMG_0375The 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month Assembly for both the Middle and Upper Schools was held on October 7, 2015. Presented by the D-E student club INSPIRE (Introducing New Solutions to Promote Integrity & Respect Everywhere) and the School’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), this year’s program featured the journeys of six prominent Hispanic and Latino Americans, as well as two D-E faculty members and a student.

INSPIRE’s co-presidents, Leslie Moreaux ’16 and Nevien Swailmyeen ’16 (pictured at left), opened the assembly with a quick background of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15. Later in the program, Leslie also shared her own story of growing up Dominican-American and experiencing her culture through the traditions her family observed while growing up in New York City, including music (gaga, palo), dance (bachata, merengue) and food (sancocho, empanadas/pastelitos).IMG_0387

Middle School Spanish teacher Romualdo Bautista (pictured at right), of the Mixtec tribe in Oaxaca, Mexico, provided a slideshow with his personal narrative, while Upper School Spanish teacher Karina Hernández (pictured below) spoke of her journey from Costa Rica and how her family “did not melt, but rather became part of the mosaic of what makes the United States.” After discussing a variety of highlights from her native country—from the flora to the weather, the folklore to the holidays—Senorita Hernández acknowledged that living in the United States provides a cultural platform for “continuous learning and checking of balances.”

Several INSPIRE members, along with two faculty members, read the stories of the six featured Hispanic/Latino American individuals. Chris Victor ’17 presented the history of Cuban native and actor Desi Arnaz; Claudine Chartouni ’16 spoke about Staten Island-born folk singer Joan Baez, whose father, Albert, moved to Brooklyn from Puebla, Mexico, when he was 2; and Michelle Rowicki ’16 introduced Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente before a short video was shown. Arlene Mendez ’17 presented the history behind Bolivian-born, California-based educator Jaime Escalante, while Upper School Spanish teacher Dori Levin ’93 shared the story of New Mexico-born civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who coined the United Farm Workers’ motto “Si se puede” in 1972, along with her UFW co-founder César Chávez. To close the program, OMA director Clinton Carbon discussed the achievements of Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a pioneer in the field of aeronautics and space who was not only the first Latina American astronaut but also the first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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