DEI Committee

Diversity Equality Inclusion - October 2, 2020

Hispanic Heritage Month

by Nathalia Salvatierra, Committee Member

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Hispanic-American community is filled with pride and warmth.

Every year from September 15 through October 15, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the culture and contributions of citizens of Hispanic and Latino origins. This national celebration was started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, and was expanded to a month in 1988.

While the Hispanic community hails from diverse backgrounds in terms of origin, most people don’t realize that many of us are the product of a period in history that for some reason is seldom taught in schools or universities. For example, The Spanish Inquisition spanned 400 years and was a time in history when millions fell prey to the fury of religious persecution and had to leave their home country to find safety. During this period in history, my ancestors fled for their lives, for the very survival of their families, eventually culturally blending with some of the Native American and African populations. Despite adversity, slowly but surely, the melting pot of cultures came together to birth a vibrant community.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, understanding how this community has shaped the U.S. is very important. Understanding Hispanic heritage is key to understanding the roots of American culture as five states have Spanish names: Florida, California, Nevada, Colorado and Montana.

Being born and raised in Latin America until I was 10 years old, I take tremendous pride in representing a culture that is far greater than myself. Hundreds of years ago, my ancestors immigrated to the Americas seeking a better and brighter future. It is the same now. Many Hispanic immigrants over the past century have immigrated to the U.S. in order to flee violence, poverty and dictatorial regimes.

I invite you to imagine leaving your family, culture and everything you know behind. How difficult must one’s situation be that they would leave all of these things behind for a place where success is not necessarily guaranteed? That certainly takes great courage.

My mother, who started working as a janitor 24 years ago when she first came to the U.S., is now a business owner. Now a U.S. citizen, she has contributed so much to this country, including employing others. Due to contributions such as these that Hispanic-Americans have made, and for many more reasons, I’m proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Here is how you can join us in celebrating the Hispanic community:

  1. As you walk down the halls of Goodwin House, take notice of the diversity of your coworkers. If a coworker is open to sharing more about themselves, it could be a wonderful experience to learn more about someone’s country of origin. Interestingly, not all Hispanic individuals share the same skin tone. There are many different skin tones that represent the Hispanic culture, which spans 21 countries.
  2. Ask them about a typical dish from their country. You might be surprised when you find out that, though the Hispanic community shares the same language, the cuisines are significantly different.
  3. Talk to coworkers about their journeys. When did they come to the U.S., and under what circumstances? What challenges did they face? What challenges do they continue to face today? Sometimes just being a listening ear and hearing someone’s struggles provides great comfort.

Lastly, to my Goodwin House Hispanic family: Feliz mes de la Herencia Hispana! (Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!) El Comité de Diversidad, Igualdad e Integracion | Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee

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Nathalia Salvatierra, Recruiter for Goodwin House, was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and immigrated to the United States when she was 11 years old. Her parents decided to come to America when she was a baby to provide a better life for her and her sister. While they worked three or four jobs in America, she and her sister lived comfortably with her grandmother back in Bolivia until her parents were able to save enough money to bring them to America. After 10 long years of only being able to talk over the phone, they were finally reunited! She overcame many challenges, including learning a new language, adapting to a different culture with values that were significantly different than those she grew up learning. Because of her background and upbringing, Nathalia believes the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee is especially important in an organization with employees that represent so many different countries. She believes that, when we educate one another on these matters, we can understand and embrace one another!

About the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: We are a group of staff and residents who together serve a mission to educate, embrace and empower a workplace of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our vision is to seek open and honest communication and collaboration that will inform and celebrate the cultural, ethnic and sexual orientation of all members of our staff without bias.

 

Questions or comments? Please contact us dei@goodwinhouse.org.

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