National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States every year between September 15th and October 15th. Here at EF Education First, we celebrate this moment through the entire month of October. This vital month honors the history and vast diversity of the Hispanic and Latinx+ communities. In addition, it’s an opportunity for all of us to acknowledge and celebrate the unique contributions of individuals who identify as Hispanic or Latinx and trace their ancestry back to Spain, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
As a global organization focused on education, we take every moment of celebration as an opportunity to learn, and this is one of those moments. Hispanic refers to people from or descended from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Latinx+ refers to people from or descended from Latin American countries, including nations like Brazil and Haiti. This isn’t a perfect categorization, however, as there are Indigenous cultures residing in Spanish-speaking countries who do not identify with those countries culture or language.
Latinx+ @EF, one of EF’s employee-led EFinity groups, invited their colleagues to join them in reflecting on the power of the past and the potential for a greater future centered around our Hispanic Heritage Month theme this year — “Hope and Resilience.” The group held a Critical Conversation (a regular series for staff at EF) on the complexities of the Latinx+ community, its culture, and common misconceptions. Participants discussed the core pillars of the Latinx+ community, family being one of them. This was described as creating a familial environment as often as possible, even in the workplace, by sharing food, traditions, and language.
The participants also shared their personal experiences, such as growing up as immigrants or first-generation Americans, feeling like outsiders in their neighborhoods, seeking out role models and representation, and finding community among their peers and colleagues.
Research has shown that 76% of Latinx+ people withhold parts of who they are while at work to better fit in, or rather, not to stand out. At EF, we are working to ensure that all of our employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work if they choose, and celebrations like Hispanic Heritage Month are helping break down the barriers that may have prevented achieving this in the past.
Celebrations like these are not only enlightening, but also help our staff better understand groups with shared characteristics, affinities, or life experiences within the larger EF community as they communicate with customers, partners, and colleagues from cultures around the world.
“Hope and resilience means so much for the Latinx community,” says Stephanie, EF Educational Tours Program Manager for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. “It’s not only about recognizing our ancestors and where we come from, pero tambien, how we’re continuing to recognize our culture, using it as a catalyst moving forward in redefining who we are, recreating tradition, holding onto the past, enjoying the present and creating the future juntos.”
Learn a bit of the Spanish that’s used in this article:
Pero tambien: but, also
“U.S. Latinos Feel They Can’t Be Themselves at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 11 Oct. 2016, https://hbr.org/2016/10/u-s-latinos-feel-they-cant-be-themselves-at-work.