Tag Archives: Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month: A look at six more campuses with Hispanic namesakes 


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The Houston Independent School District is observing Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15, by honoring the Hispanics for whom many of the district’s schools are named.

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the contributions made to this country by people of Hispanic descent, including those whose ancestors immigrated from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

HISD features 22 schools that recognize the contributions of Hispanic civic and community leaders, who range from educators and civil servants to local restaurateurs, newscasters, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and even Nobel Prize-winners.

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And Latin America was born!

Today, the month-long celebration to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos to the U.S. comes to an end.

Over the past 30 days, we have highlighted more than 20 Spanish-speaking countries from Latin America and Europe, learning about their traditions, history, music, food, culture, and in many cases, their contributions to the world. Our schools have held a variety of events in celebration of this annual observance, including performances, music festivals, food tastings, art shows, and many other displays.

We hope you had an opportunity to experience one or more of them, to gain more knowledge about the rich diversity of Hispanic culture.

Did you know…? The reference to “Latin” America stems from the fact that the languages of many countries in the region are derived from Spanish, Portuguese, or French (considered “Romance” languages), all of which evolved from Latin.

Central America And Central America was born…
Mexico Viva Mexico! Celebrating 205 years of Independence
Argentina Argentina: Tango, Soccer, Gauchos, and more!
Chile Chile: Country of Poets
Belize Belize: Barrier reef, rainforest, Maya heritage
Bolivia Bolivia: Rich in natural resources and biodiversity
Colombia Colombia: Biodiversity, emeralds, and the greatest storyteller!
Costa Rica Costa Rica: Adventure-filled, eco-friendly, and unique!
Cuba Cuba: Turquoise beaches, ‘Son’ rhythm, and more!
El Salvador El Salvador: Land of volcanoes, coffee, and surf
Ecuador Ecuador: Rivers, nature, and bananas!
España Spain: Tapas, soccer, and flamenco
Guatemala Guatemala: Mayan heritage, archeology, and crafts
Honduras Honduras: Mountains, a biosphere reserve, and culture
Nicaragua Nicaragua: Land of lakes, volcanoes, and poets
Panamá Panama: Culture, skyline, and the crossroads of the world
Paraguay Paraguay: Guaraní culture and hydroelectric resources
Perú Peru: Ancient cultures, colonial architecture, and a multiethnic melting pot
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico: Baseball, blue flag beaches, and forts
República Dominicana Dominican Republic: Where it all started!
Uruguay Uruguay: Natural beauty, music, and high-tech farming
Venezuela Venezuela: Joropo, oil, and the world’s highest waterfall

Venezuela: Joropo, oil, and the world’s highest waterfall

Located in South America, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is home to many beautiful and natural wonders, thanks to its extremely high biodiversity. It covers the Andes Mountains, Amazon rainforest, extensive plains, and Caribbean coast. Venezuela is one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America, with about 93 percent of its population living in urban areas in the northern part of the country. According to a DNA study conducted in 2008, the average Venezuelan is 60.6 percent European, 23 percent Amerindian, and 16.3 percent of African descent. This is a reflection of the cultural melting pot the country is.

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Uruguay: Natural beauty, music, and high-tech farming

Uruguay, one of the smallest nations in South America, has a population of about 3.4 million people, and more than half of them live in the metro area of the capital city, Montevideo. The country is situated on the northern shore of the Río de la Plata, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Uruguay River — from which the nation gets its name — to the west. As a result, the country boasts hundreds of miles of sandy beaches and waterfront resort areas, from laidback and remote to world-class destinations, which provide the basis for a thriving tourism industry.

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Dominican Republic: Where it all started!

Today, October 12, as we celebrate Columbus Day (also known in other countries as Día de la Raza, Día de las Américas, or Día de la Hispanidad) to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the “New World,” the Americas, it is fitting to highlight the country where it all started: the Dominican Republic.  It is said that when Columbus first landed in America, he did so in what we know today as The Bahamas, yet the first European settlement was established in the Dominican Republic.

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Puerto Rico: Baseball, blue flag beaches, and forts

Officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, this Caribbean archipelago is home to almost four million people. Its main island, Puerto Rico, is 100 miles long by 35 miles wide. Spanish and English are considered the official languages, however, the vast majority of the population are predominately Spanish-speakers. The culturally diverse Puerto Ricans are of European, Amerindian, and African descent. This mixture can be observed in its cocina criolla, or local cuisine, which includes grains, legumes, herbs, spices, tropical tubers, vegetables, and fruits — and, of course, lots of seafood, as well as meat and poultry. Some of its national dishes include the savory pasteles, tostones, and arroz con gandules. Continue reading

Peru: Ancient cultures, colonial architecture, and a multiethnic melting pot

Located on the western coast of South America, the Republic of Peru boasts a mixture of historical, cultural, and natural beauty. It once was home to various civilizations, but it is perhaps most widely known for being home of the Inca civilization — considered the largest empire in the Americas, prior to the arrival of Europeans. One of the most iconic representations of the Incas is Machu Picchu, a site located almost 8,000 feet above sea level. It is believed to have been built around 1400 AD, for the Incan emperor, Pachacuti. Machu Picchu is one of the top archeological sites in the world and it has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. In Peru, you can also find the Nazca Lines, giant sketches that can only be seen from the air, by flying over the Nazca Desert. These are believed to have been made by the Nazca Indians from 200 BC to 700 CE. Hundreds of designs include human body shapes, hands, trees, condors, hummingbirds, monkeys, sharks, llamas, and fish.

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Paraguay: Guaraní culture and hydroelectric resources

Paraguay is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America. It is bordered by Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. The country is home to the Paraguay River, one of the most important waterways in South America, which flows through Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. The river divides the country into two very different geographical regions. Paraguay consists mostly of grassy plains and wooded hills in the eastern region and low, marshy plains in the western region. Because of the absence of mountain ranges to provide a natural barrier, winds can reach speeds as high as 100 mph. This can significantly impact changes in temperature within a short span of time.

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Panama: Culture, skyline, and the crossroads of the world!

The Republic of Panama is the southernmost part of a natural land bridge connecting the continents of North and South America. It is considered one of the most global cities in Latin America, thanks to its international business center, the Panama Canal, and important ports registering a high volume of traffic on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides. Panama is among the three largest economies in Central America.  It is a country rich in traditions, with one of the most modern skylines of Latin America, and its canal is a key conduit for international maritime trade.

The core of Panamanian culture rests on three categories: its folklore, which plays a central role in every festivity the country holds; its food, a mix of African, Spanish, and Native American techniques, dishes, and ingredients, reflecting its diverse population; and its love of music, from traditional local cumbia to salsa, merengue, Spanish reggae, and many other Caribbean rhythms. Local folklore can be learned through a multitude of festivals, dances, and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. One of the most visible expressions of Panamanian culture is its national garment, called the “Pollera,” which is a dress made of finely woven fabric on which intricate, brightly colored designs in lace are embroidered. The Pollera has been recognized as one of the world’s most elegant national dresses. Each takes about a year to complete and is adorned with fine replicas of pre-Columbian jewelry. Many traditional Panamanian dishes — such as tortillas, bollos, tamales, and empanadas — are made with corn, but its preparation is different from other Latin American recipes, since the kernel is first cooked in water and then ground in order to obtain a dough (as opposed to using corn flour to obtain the dough). Fresh corn is also used in some dishes.

Panama City is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Central America, yet it combines the historic and the ultra-modern, creating a unique landscape. Some are starting to dub Panama City “the Dubai of Central America” because of its modern skyscrapers — a sign of the city’s prosperous business district — and lively cultural city center. The “Cinta Costera” (Coastal Beltway), one of the newest roadways, beautifies the Bay of Panama City and provides recreational areas that have added to the attractiveness of the city. It received the 2015 Global Best Project in Roads and Highways award from Engineering News-Record in their annual competition.

Often branded as the “Crossroads of the Americas,” Panama is not only the geographical point where North America meets South America but also where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet in the country’s famed canal. Panama has been shaped by various cultures and traditions that come together to create a unique complexity and exotic country. Its ethnic diversity is reflected in the traditional products, as well is in its architecture, cuisine, and festivals. Panama is a place where the old and the new, nature and architecture, and culture and tradition come together, creating a uniqueness like no other.

Did you know…? Panama’s jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants, animals, and birds — some of which can be found nowhere else on the planet. The Isthmus of Panama is the only place in the world in which one can see the sun rise in the Pacific and set in the Atlantic, due to a bend in the isthmus.

This is the sixteenth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.

Nicaragua: Land of lakes, volcanoes, and poets

The Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Within it, you find three different geographical regions:  the Pacific Lowlands, the North-Central Mountains or Highlands, and the Atlantic Lowland. The Pacific coast is volcanic and very fertile. Nicaragua also enjoys coastlines both in the Caribbean Sea as well as in the Pacific Ocean. Spanish is spoken by 98 percent of its inhabitants, yet Miskito and other indigenous languages are still spoken on the Atlantic coast. Nicaragua has 84 national parks, reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries protecting 20 percent of its total land area, far more than any other country in Central America.

Nicaragua is home to Lake Nicaragua — the largest freshwater lake in Central America — as well as many other lakes, rivers, and lagoons that add to the natural beauty of its scenery. The lake is home to a creature known as the bull shark. Inside Lake Nicaragua you will find the Solentiname Islands, a series of 36 islands of volcanic origin. Most of the Central America Volcanic Arc is found in Nicaragua, featuring more than 50 volcanoes, of which seven are still considered active.

Some of the most influential poets have come from Nicaragua. Rubén Darío, considered the “Prince of Castillian Letters” and the “Father of the Hispanic Modernism,” had the lead role in promoting the poetic movement that combined Romanticism, Symbolism, and Parnassianism and introducing it to the world.  Some of his most distinctive work is found in “Azul…” (considered the first book of Modernisim), “Prosas profanas y otros poemas,” and “Cantos de vida y esperanza.” Other famous Nicaraguan writers include Gioconda Belli, Ernesto Cardenal, Claribel Alegría, and Salomón Ibarra Mayorga.

Did you know…?Nicaragua has nine six-crater lakes, more than any country outside Africa. Unlike most Latin American countries, baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua. Out of the 88 modern constellations, 86 can be observed in Nicaragua.

This is the fifthteenth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.