A Month of Celebration Leads to a Lifetime of Understanding

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for the Sidwell Friends community to learn about and celebrate the diversity of Hispanic and Latinx cultures—a recognition that can continue at home.

“When it comes to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, there’s no right or wrong answer,” says Silvana Niazi, the Señora Guillermina Medrano de Supervía Endowed Faculty Chair for Spanish and Latin American Studies. “But it’s beyond just taco night. It’s a good opportunity to make some space and time to think about how to learn more about Latin America or the Caribbean, whether it’s through food or music or dance, or thinking perhaps a little bit about contributions that individuals have made. Any of those lenses works; it just depends on what your own family's interests are.”

To that end, Niazi has compiled a list that families of all ages can use to deepen their understanding about Hispanic history, culture, and contemporary issues.

“Things like inequities and questions of access to education and healthcare are really at the forefront of a lot of the academic conversations that we’ll be seeing around Latin American and Caribbean countries,” Niazi says. “Particularly in the heightened pandemic crisis context, but also in the more long-term context of being one of the most inequitable regions in the world.”

While Hispanic Heritage Month puts those issues in the spotlight, they don’t fade away when the month ends on October 15. Niazi says that keeping these issues in mind year-round is the responsibility of everyone, especially people living in the Americas.

“We are a hemisphere of Americans, and in this sense, we have a shared sense of community; our histories are very much intertwined, for better or for worse,” she says. “When we wrestle with and realize those histories, we can start to think of ourselves more broadly as global citizens. When we begin to do that, we can start to think beyond the confines of Hispanic Heritage Month and think about ways in which the histories and present-day realities of the region are part of our own daily lives and challenges that we really need to face.”

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