Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated with Horchata, Latin Music, Flags – and More

The campus was alive with Latinx culture during Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place every year from September 15 to October 15 as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latinx community. 

Through the efforts of De Colores, Hotchkiss's Latinx and Hispanic affinity group, students, staff, and faculty members had an opportunity to savor a sweet milky Mexican drink called horchata, dance to a Latin beat, listen to the stories of special guest speakers, and learn more about the diverse Latin American countries represented at Hotchkiss.

The month kicked off on the evening of Sept. 15 with a small gathering on Main Circle for the re-creation of “El Grito de Dolores,” a speech that sparked a decade-long war for Mexican independence on that day 211 years ago. That Sunday, nearly 30 students and three Latinx faculty members gathered at De Colores’s advisor David Thompson’s house for an asado, an outdoor meal, and to celebrate the start of the school year. 

“It was truly moving to hear Solfe Lopez ’24 say that gathering for the asado made Hotchkiss feel more like home. The students were also eager to connect with more of the adult members of the Latinx community at Hotchkiss and in the northwest corner,” said Thompson, director of international programs. 

De Colores was founded three years ago by three students –– Anaiz Robinson ’22, Billy Meneses ’22, and Suleyka Alonzo ’22. Since then, the group has expanded and has worked toward building awareness of and support for the Latinx community at Hotchkiss. To mark Hispanic Heritage Month, De Colores launched a rotating display of flags in Main Hallway across from the library of all the Latin American countries represented at Hotchkiss, with write-ups about each country. 

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and De Colores organized a series of community events in the Multicultural Center that included an open-mic session co-hosted with the Black and Hispanic Student Association (BaHSA). Students shared stories of their own Latinx experience and reflections on immigration, read poetry, and performed monologues. Artist Eilen Itzel Mena ’13 was the first guest speaker and spoke to students on Sept. 24 about her journey to Hotchkiss and her evolution as a Latinx artist. 

Latinx music was celebrated during a Latin-themed dance night held on Main Circle, and in October De Colores sold cups of horchata to the community to raise funds for Vecinos Seguros, a nonprofit that helps undocumented families in the local community.

During an All-School Meeting Oct. 6, Steven Tejada performed excerpts from his one-man show, “Boogie Down Journeys.” Born and raised in the South Bronx, Tejada dropped out of high school, then attended an independent school on full scholarship, and later graduated from Wesleyan University. He worked on Wall Street before becoming a performer and speaker, and also serves as head of the upper school at Maret School in Washington, D.C. Tejada delivered a powerful message through his collections of stories and reflections about growing up Hispanic and his journey from an independent day school to university, where he learned that education is the true life-changer. 

Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Office,Yassine Talhaoui commented that Tejada had a unique ability to reach a very broad audience. 

“He is funny, engaging, and speaks to experiences that many of us can relate to. He is a true ‘change agent,’ who has made a real difference in the independent school world for many years,” Talhaoui said. 

 

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