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The Student News Site of Prospect High School


The Student News Site of Prospect High School



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Embracing your culture

During Hispanic Heritage month, there was a display set up in the Knights Learning Center

You might have heard the Hispanic music in the hallways or bought a $2 churro in the commons during Prospects Hispanic Heritage Week. However, being Hispanic means much more to Prospect Latino/ Latina students and staff.

“The culture is the closeness with family, the music, the traditions, the dancing and just being able to share that with friends and other family members,” math teacher John Bassler said.

Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15 and ends on October 15. Throughout this month, people of Hispanic cultures are celebrated. 

According to the National Museum of the American Latino, “The timeframe of this month is significant because many Central American countries celebrate their independence days within these dates, beginning on September 15 with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. By aligning with these independence dates, Hispanic Heritage Month honors the resilience and determination of the Hispanic community”.  

Bassler’s dad is German and Irish and his mom is Puerto Rican, however, he was raised in the Puerto Rican culture. 

With every generation, a little bit of the culture is lost, and Bassler has witnessed this firsthand in his own life. Bassler wants to ensure his kids continue learning the culture and stay connected.

“I feel like it’s important for them to learn so they can pass it on and it kinda ties back to my grandparents so their great grandparents and going back generations so they can feel that connection to family from the past,” Bassler said.

One of Bassler’s favorite traditions takes place on Thanksgiving. His family forms an assembly line and they make Pasteles, a dish similar to a Mexican Tamale, however, they use plantains instead of corn. Due to the amount of work it takes, they only make this dish once a year making it special every time they get to have it again.

Bassler takes pride in his culture, but it wasn’t until later that he started to appreciate it.

“Growing up, I guess I was just like my own kids. My mom would teach me Spanish and I would fight back because none of my friends spoke Spanish but it wasn’t until the end of high school [to] the beginning of college that I kind of felt like I’m losing my culture and I wasn’t able to talk my aunts and uncles, as well as my mom was,” Bassler said. “So for me the culture was about communicating with my family, going to family reunions and being able to have more similarities with them.”

Bassler tried to immerse himself as much as possible in Hispanic organizations and clubs to help him form a community and support system throughout his college years. 

Because college support helped him so much, he tries to be a support system for his Latino students.

“I try to reach out to all my students but also let my students of color, especially Latino students, know hey I’m just like you guys, I grew up in the same background, I speak the same language, I listen to the same music, I eat the same food and we can all be successful, especially in mathematics, let me help you and hopefully be a good role model,” Bassler said. 

Prospect junior, Oliver Vega’s, culture has shaped his life in many ways.

“To me [my heritage] means everything to me, it really defines the person that I am and the ways that I live because of the morals that come with my heritage, at least the ones my parents taught me,” Vega said.

Vega values loyalty and hard work, but the value that means everything to him is family.

In another country, it can be hard to keep up with your culture. However, taking the extra steps to stay connected is very important. 

“It’s really easy to get unattached from it because obviously, you’re in a different culture, it’s very different, and it’s important to keep in touch with it because then you know your parents more and know what it was like for them,” Vega said.

Vega’s favorite traditions and customs from his culture have to be dances like quinceaneras and of course, the food.

However, Vega isn’t the only student who knows how to stay connected to his culture. 

Sophomore Cristian Nava practices his culture at home and represents his heritage through his performances. On September 22nd, during Prospect’s annual Homecoming assembly, Nava performed a well-known piece from Mexico by Vicente Fernandez. 

“The whole week [before] I was just really scared [and worried]. I was nervous because I was singing in front of that many people, it was terrifying…[I] thought back to why I was doing this- I was doing this because of my passion: singing, and Mexican culture, so I wanted to show some representation,” Nava said. 

Since the song is a ballad, Nava watched videos of Fernandez performing it to learn how to perform it correctly and incorporate his culture and talent into the song. 

“[Heritage] is something to be proud of,” Nava said. 

His family also plays a significant role in keeping their culture alive. Despite being far from home, his grandma makes sure to bring home to their family. 

“My grandma moved from Mexico to here and she made sure people knew she was Mexican; she’d listen to songs, put up decorations, she did everything because it gave her a sense of home,” Nava said. 

Practicing their culture, Nava and his family keep their traditions strong and family close. 

“It’s important to know your roots and it’s important to keep practicing those traditions because it makes a legacy long-lasting,” Nava said. 

With many other students having a similar story or experience, Nava appreciates Prospect for giving him and many other students and staff to represent and celebrate their cultures, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

“[My heritage gives] me a sense of identity, and I’m happy that this is a place where I could be accepted and be proud to be Mexican,” Nava said. 

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Molly Mundt, News Reporter
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