Celebrating the history and contributions of Latino culture can empower a better understanding and appreciation for Hispanic-Americans and the positive influence they have within a community.
The Hispanic Heritage event was held on Oct. 1 in the Sundown Room of the Student Center on the Levelland campus of South Plains College.
The purpose for this event is for students to come together and encourage discussions of Hispanic-American culture.
The first guest speaker for the event was Yolanda Salgado, who is a currently an advisor at the Reese Center campus.
She began by speaking of her father, who grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico. At the age of 10, he became the man of the house when his father passed away. At a young age, he found himself helping his grandmother provide income for the family, including his three younger siblings.
Her mother also grew up on the outskirts of Chihuahua, Mexico with her family. Her highest level of education was the 6th grade, because, at that time in Mexico, families had to pay their way through grade school, similar to college. It was difficult for Salgado’s grandparents to pay for her mother’s education, and they only had enough money to send her brother to school. They did this so that he would be able to provide for his future family.
After her parents met and got married, they decided to immigrate to America.
“Back in the day, my dad said it was very difficult to immigrate to the United States,” said Salgado. “Compared to today, it’s almost next to impossible.”
In her family, Salgado has four sisters and two brothers. She is the sixth child out of the seven. Since she is one of the youngest, she jokingly admits to being one of the spoiled children.
Salgado also spoke of her mother, who “instilled the value of faith, hard work, and never losing where I came from,” into her life and the lives of her siblings.
She recalled from her childhood that their education was something that was taken seriously in her home, “not just through books, but through study.”
Her mother taught her children to cook, and her father instilled a sense of pride in their heritage and how to adapt to their surroundings.
Growing up, Salgado’s first language was Spanish. Her parents wanted all of their children to understand that their native tongue is what is going to connect them to the people in all of South America and even abroad.
“The greatest thing I can tell you is no matter where you’re from, learn who you are,” Salgado said. “My father’s words still ring true in my ears. Know who you are, because it is a part of you. But don’t be afraid to adapt to the culture around you.”
The following guest speaker was Maikol Iván González Figaeroa, who is a student at SPC from Puerto Rico.
He discussed different traditions that he would celebrate with his family, specifically around the winter holidays.
“We have a different Christmas tradition than other Hispanics or Latinos,” González said.
He explained that the celebration of Christmas for his family begins on Christmas Eve, and they continue to celebrate every day until February.
“This just keeps going and going, because where I am from, we all have a party mentality,” González jokingly admits. “Whether we have work or school, we always make time for a party.”
He recalls memories of celebrating with his cousins and talked about how he would spend time with them on a daily basis.
“Puerto Rico is such a small island,” González explained, “Texas is a lot bigger than Puerto Rico. At home, to travel from one side of the island to the other, it may take up to three hours. I like that it’s small, because in the United States, family is too far apart.”
The third guest speaker of the night was Miguel Barrena Galiano, who shared his experiences from living in Spain.
He discussed a tradition that is popular in Spain, running with the bulls.
This is an important tradition in his family, as it is something that they take part in every year.
“It’s part of a festival, San Fermín, which is a seven-day party that takes place in my city, Pamplona, Spain,” Galiano explained.
This celebration takes place every year from July 7 to July 14.
Galiano explains that every morning throughout the seven-day celebration, roughly 3,000 people will go early in the morning to prepare to run against six bulls.
“Trying to run away from them is just a rush of adrenaline,” Galiano said, “and even though it’s dangerous, I would definitely say that it’s worth it.”
Before the announcement of the award winner for the evening, the SPC Ballroom Dance Team performed a tango and another dance routine.
Darryl Cox, a member of the SPC Ballroom Dance Team said, “We learn a variety of dances from different parts of Latin America and dances from Europe, like a waltz.”
After the performances, Christy Martinez-Garcia of Lubbock was awarded the Hispanic Heritage Honor Award.
“To receive this award is very humbling, because South Plains College made a huge impact on my life, and I’m proud that I had to opportunity to come here,” Garcia said.
According to Miranda English, hostess for the event, Garcia received this award because she continuously contributes to the Lubbock community and encourages those around her to never stop achieving their goals.
Garcia says that after she graduated from Texas Tech University, she used her public relations and marketing skills to create a monthly publication, Latino Lubbock Magazine.
Latino Lubbock Magazine is a publication that covers a variety of topics such as health and wellness, community, politics, art and culture, business, youth issues, education, faith and religion, and employment, among others.
“We try to cover a lot of topics because the Hispanic community is very centralized,” Garcia said. “But the great thing is that it is bilingual. This publication is for anybody who wants to learn more about Hispanic communities and culture.”
She also talked about the importance of attending events, such as the Hispanic Heritage event, to encourage students to engage with others of different cultures.
“You don’t have to be Hispanic to appreciate Hispanic Heritage Month,” Garcia said. “I think it’s important that students are open to learning, and I know this is something you can find at this campus.”