Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), recognizes the histories, cultures and contributions of communities that share a common language, originating from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Universal ties that bind cultures throughout the world are most often family and food, and these are indeed strong elements in Hispanic cultures.
We’ve asked Latinx staff members from Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Office of Academic Programs to share about their backgrounds and culture.
What country does your family originate from, and please share a special aspect of your culture that’s important to you.
Martha Estevez, SEBS Educational Opportunity Fund Department Administrator
My family migrated from the Dominican Republic in the late 70s to the United States. One special aspect of my culture that is important to me is being family oriented. We love to spend time together as much as possible. We always find an excuse to have delicious home cooked meals while dancing and enjoying our Hispanic music.
Laura Mitchell, Administrative Assistant, SEBS Office of Academic Programs
I am a child born to a Colombian mother and father. I came to this country when I was six years old because my mother wanted to provide better opportunities for me. We struggled for a long time learning the language and adjusting to the culture of the United States. Although I have been in this country for many years, I still hold the memories of my country close to my heart.
One of the special aspects of my culture that I can remember from my childhood is how important family gatherings were, especially during the Christmas season. In this country the emphasis is placed on Christmas day but in Colombia I remember the large family gatherings that took place on Christmas Eve, a.k.a. “Noche Buena.” The emphasis was on coming together, eating traditional Colombian food, including empanadas (beef patties) and bunuelos (cheese fritters), watching the adults dance to salsa and cumbia music, and staying up till midnight to open gifts. This is one aspect of my culture that I carry with me even to this day with my own children—the importance of connecting with family and sharing special moments that become memories.
Damarys Romero, SEBS Educational Opportunity Fund Counselor
My mother originates from Mexico and my father from Nicaragua, and I have had the privilege to have traveled to both. A special aspect growing up in a Hispanic household for me would be coming home to a warm delicious meal cooked by my mother and being surrounded by family at the dinner table, joined by laughter and teasing. There is something about food that brings family together and invites everyone to join in and stay for a while.