By Liliana Soto and Jesus De Avila.
Since the late 80s, Hispanic Heritage month, from September 15th to October 15th, has become a special and perfect opportunity for Spanish and ESL teachers to commemorate and highlight Hispanic culture and its contributions to shape today’s American Society.
During this month different cultural programs are held at schools. These programs are made up of traditional dances and outfits, poem recitations, speeches, and of course food.
As Cultural Exchange Colombian teachers, but more importantly as proud Hispanics, married couple Jesus De Avila and Liliana Soto always want to celebrate the accomplishment of their role models and show their traditions.
Both in their 4th year with Global in Warren County and Vance County respectively, they shared with us some of the awesome things they have been doing in their schools over the last month.
Jesus:“The arrival of Covid19 and consequently virtual learning these days, were not a hindrance to the Hispanic Heritage celebration.
At Warren Early High School in Warren County, a video of two teachers explaining and dancing Colombian Cumbia was played during homeroom, along with a video of a student from a High School in Colombia in which a poem written and recited by the student was shown; likewise, these two short videos served as a prelude to some class discussions.
“This year, as we are having virtual classes, I thought about how I could instill a sense of pride in my Hispanic students and a sense of appreciation from my school community.” – Liliana Soto
Additionally, for two consecutive years I have had my students work on “The day of the dead” project during this month, in which as a final product, they create some altars to honor a deceased family member, a celebrity or Hispanic Icon.
Considering we are teaching virtually now, and based on the amazing face-to-face experience I had last school year when I rolled out this project, I was wondering if my new students’ attitude and performance would be as reverent and respectful as the one displayed the first time.
This time students created virtual altars for their beloved ones along with a slide show and a video. I happily have to recognize their commitment towards this assignment and outstanding job since day one and thanks to their solemnity they could somehow remember and pay tribute to a deceased person.”
Liliana: “This year, as we are having virtual classes, I thought about how I could instill a sense of pride in my Hispanic students and a sense of appreciation from my school community. Therefore I put into a place a Hispanic virtual spirit week for the school I work for.
Every day, teachers and students had a way to briefly observe an aspect of the Hispanic culture during morning meetings:
- Day 1: Countries Day (students were presented a video clip about The Hispanic Heritage Month origin and about the 21 Hispanic countries).
- Day 2: Kahoot Day ( students in their homerooms had the chance to play Kahoot to prove they were aware of Hispanic traditions and facts).
- Day 3: Talent Day (A short play about The Three Little Pigs /Los 3 Cerditos was played out.This play was starred by some of our students and it was spoken in Spanish. It was made 2 years ago for another Hispanic Heritage celebration. However, it was as enjoyable as it was during the release. This was a great way to remember the talent we own at the school.
- Day 4: Spanish Day (students played an interactive game called “I Bet You Know Spanish” .Using simple expressions and vocabulary students proved,they do know some Spanish.
- Day 5: Hispanic Snack Day (Students could share out with their teachers and classmates what their favorite Hispanjc food or snack were)
These activities were no longer than 5 minutes and set the tone for the day. I’m very appreciative of the staff in the school who were all in to share out these activities during their homeroom time with their students.
Along with the activities presented day by day, I included in my ESL lessons which were about Hispanic countries and their food, music as well as biographies of Hispanic figures such as Sonia Sotomayor, Joe Acaba and Ellen Ochoa who are important to look up to, due to their outstanding achievements in the law and science fields in the United States.
We had a regular language class with Do Now activities, vocabulary activities and reading comprehension questions via Zoom and Nearpod.
The cultural component was relevant during our class discussions, reflecting over our Hispanic identity and fostering appreciation for their education as a way to create life changing opportunities.”