Today marks the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month. However, we want to ensure that before this month dedicated to the Hispanic Culture comes to an end, we all understand why it was so important to us. 

As described by Hispanicheritagemonth.gov,  “National Hispanic Heritage Month traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries.” Hispanic Heritage Month started with President Johnson in 1968 and was extended by Congress from a one-week celebration to a month. It’s celebrated in The United States between September 15th and October 15th. 

Most people have no idea that Hispanics and Latinos are not the same. Being Latino means you or your ancestors were born in a Latin American country. Being Hispanic means that you or your ancestors descend from a Spanish speaking country. All Latin America, Spain, Mexico, Central/South America, and the Caribbean. It’s because of this that the Hispanic culture is such a beautiful thing. It brings people together from all over the world and allows those who do not necessarily reside in a Spanish speaking country to express themselves and their heritage. 

We asked some of our employees what their heritage means to them. Without a doubt, it reminded us how important our culture and traditions are. 

Our CEO, Maria Merce Martin, said “comer hallacas en diciembre,” to eat Hallacas in December. Hallacas is a traditional meal that Venezuelans make during the month of December. It’s not just a meal you eat though, it’s one that takes almost 48 hours to prepare and one you need a “team” to create. It’s about hearing traditional music with family while cooking the Hallacas. Seeing how everyone comes together while having their favorite holiday drinks and listening to the best holiday music is priceless. The plate itself is just another meal, but the tradition is worth everything.

Lidia Venebra, Project Coordinator from Mexico said,  “festejar con tequila y musica de banda el 15 de septiembre.” Celebrating with traditional mexican music and tequila reminds her of her culture. 

Karla Paola, Member Specialist of Mexico, felt the same as Lidia: “Tequila and Mariachi.” For those of us in a different country, that might just be music and a drink, but to them, in Mexico, it means freedom, family, and unity. 

Diana Figueroa, Human Resources from Colombia, said, “sentarse con los abuelos y escuchar historias.” Sitting with her grandparents and listening to stories reminds her of how important family is in the Hispanic culture. It’s what we learn from the first day until our last day on earth: our family is everything we have, and we need to treasure it. 

Florencia Sanchez, Program Manager from the USA, said, “la pasta en familia los domingos.” To her, family Sunday-meals are what remind her of her home country, Argentina.

Karen Pujol, Project Manager from the USA, said, “reunirse una tarde con gente de todas partes para bailar salsa casino.” Dancing and music are also a huge part of the Hispanic culture. The fact that people from all over the world can come together through one dance reminds us how lucky we are to have the arts being such a big influence on our culture.

Last but not least, the one comment that left us genuinely thinking of how powerful heritage is, was Patricia Ayuso, Software Development Manager from the USA, said,  “Hablas el mismo idioma con mas de 20 culturas distintas.” You can speak the same language with over 20 different cultures. How crazy is that? Knowing that, at minimum, 20 different cultures/countries will understand you is impressive. 

Overall, for Hispanic people, family, food, religion, and music are the most important in life. It’s the way we learned to value each other. To bring food and think, “if one eats, so can 20.” It’s about knowing you believe in something even if it’s different than your neighbor, and most importantly, it is knowing that you can connect and meet people through our traditional music and dances. 

Today might be the last day of the month to celebrate Hispanic culture officially, but our family celebrates 24/7. At Optime, we are Hispanic, some Latinos, but we are all family in the end. We are proud of our culture. It has shaped us into who we are today. 

By: Isabela Rosa – October 202

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