ℹ️ This article is an excerpt from GE Hitachi’s Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter and is reprinted below with permission from the author Lucas Martins.
Hello GEH Familia,
My name is Lucas Martins and I am the BWR Owners’ Group Director and Chair of the GEH Hispanic Forum Employee Resource Group (ERG). I would like to invite everyone to join in celebrating Hispanic and Latino Americans, their culture and history during National Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 to October 15 each year.
In 1968 Congress initiated Hispanic Heritage Week which was later expanded to a month-long celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988. It begins in the middle of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate their independence on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept 21.
I am what you would call a third culture kid, having lived in five different countries throughout my childhood (Brazil, Luxembourg, USA, Venezuela and Chile) while also attending international schools with students that represented many different cultures. Up until I was eight years old, I was like any other Brazilian kid, living in Americana, a city in the interior of São Paulo, and only speaking Portuguese. My family’s life completely changed when my father took a job in Luxembourg. That was my first experience attending an English-speaking school, which was a good introduction into the language considering we moved to Akron, Ohio six months later.
Moving to a new school is nerve-wracking enough, but moving to a new school when you don’t speak the language or understand the culture is one of the scariest things I experienced as a kid. Although I have mostly good memories of my family’s first stay in the U.S., getting through the language and cultural barriers was an enormous challenge for my family as well as the other Hispanic families who made the move to the U.S. Not only did we leave our extended families and culture behind, but we had to adapt to the American way of life and often struggled to be accepted by others.
Today, Hispanic culture is all around us, influencing everything from pop culture, music, food, entertainment and more. In 2021 the Hispanic population in the U.S. hit 62.5 million and it continues to grow. For those of us with Hispanic heritage, our culture and similar struggles bind us together and this month’s celebration reminds us that Hispanic American history is an important part of American History.
As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at GEH, we are eager to share our history, traditions and beliefs with our colleagues. To get you started on the celebration, below are some Hispanic recipes for you to try that were shared during our past “Cocinando en Familia” cooking show.
GEH Hispanic Forum Chair