CHS student keeps in touch with Hispanic heritage


Shraddha Ramnath

HERITAGE AWARENESS: Junior Natalia Trevino Amaro strikes a pose during her flamenco dance. She said she values not only her family, but staying in touch with her Hispanic culture as well.

Every day, junior Natalia Trevino Amaro comes and fits in with the crowd at CHS. After school, she shows a different side to her: eating Hispanic food, speaking Spanish and dancing flamenco, a passionate and traditional form of Spanish dancing.

Trevino Amaro, who is half-Spanish and half-Mexican, said, “I started cultural dancing because I had gone to Spain, so I was very influenced by the culture. I wanted to keep in touch with it. My Hispanic heritage is something unique to have.”

Starting yesterday and continuing until Oct. 15, the United States will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by educating the public about accomplishments and traditions of Hispanics.

Trevino Amaro said her family is key to keeping her heritage because she has people to keep in touch with, which is her favorite part of the Hispanic culture because she said it is good to have more people to fall back on as teenagers, all of whom do not want to talk about certain topics with parents.

CHS Spanish teacher Gabriela Mendoza, who moved to the United States from Mexico at age seven, said this aspect is her favorite part too, because getting together with her family was the biggest tradition growing up in the United States.

She said, “We try to get to get together as often as we can. Knowing that I have my family there is really nice.”

Unfortunately, not all are as lucky as Mendoza and Trevino Amaro. Many Hispanics do lose parts of their culture.

“I think losing Hispanic heritage is just kind of sad because you can’t communicate with the rest of your family; I don’t know how people can just let it go so easily,” Trevino Amaro said.

IU Professor Lillian Casillas-Origel, a Mexican herself, said she agrees with Trevino Amaro’s assessment, but she also said culture constantly evolves. Since everyone has a different sense of heritage, people who do not keep their heritage may not be losing anything to them.screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-12-25-59-pm

“There are, though, reasons why some Hispanics do not keep their heritage. One (reason)  might be because they grew up in an area removed from the culture. Some of it is people don’t want to identify themselves. If they live in a predominantly white community, they hide it because they don’t want to be a target of hostility and hate,” Casillas-Origel said.

Casillas-Origel is the director of the IU La Casa department that advocates on behalf of Hispanics, specifically Latinos, to create and preserve a connected community for them. Members of this department also educate students about Hispanic culture.

“(Education about Hispanic heritage) should be as simple as reading a book by Latino authors. (Teachers) can set a poster in the room that celebrates key people who did impactful things in the United States. You can do it as young as preschool; granted, they’re too young to understand the diversity issues, but at least they’ve been exposed,” Casillas-Origel said.

Mendoza said one way for CHS students to learn more about Hispanics is participating in events, especially in Indianapolis, where the IUPUI Latino Student Association, a group in which Mendoza was a part of in college, hosts events for Hispanic Heritage Month.screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-12-26-09-pm

“I think that would be a great experience for students who are wanting to learn more about language or traditions. It’s important, and it’s nice that we have so many opportunities in Indianapolis where they could learn something new,” Mendoza said.

Trevino Amaro said she feels accepted here but would like CHS students should learn more about the Hispanic culture that is not portrayed in the media.

She said, “I feel like in general it is important to be cultured in every single culture and not be centered on your own because it’s really fun to learn about others. People should be more open to accepting and learning more about Hispanic culture because we’re not as different as they might think and maybe they could learn something from us Hispanics.”