Jorge Guajardo ’21
Victor Hernandez ’21
With the newly founded affinity groups and Hispanic Heritage Month on the horizon, the Latinx student affinity group was called on to present for an assembly. Instructions were not too specific: only an invitation to share more of our culture. We were all familiar with sitting down in Spanish class, laboriously going over holidays in different Latin American countries, and having to memorize foods from each country. We’d seen presentations like this before and knew that students usually didn’t find them entertaining. We wanted to spice our presentation up a little more (pun intended!). After much brainstorming through meetings over Zoom, we decided to create a presentation where members would have their own slide to present their story and how it relates to their country or family back in their country.
Our countries, homelands to some and roots to others, are more than just a summary of cuisine and activities, we realized, as we talked about how to make this presentation not only entertaining to our audience but also fulfilling for ourselves.
Nico Cantrell ’21 and his brother Zach Cantrell ’23 talked about how their family back in Mexico has shaped them; Anthony Robles ’23 talked about his family from Mexico as well as his experience competing in mariachi competitions back in Texas; Theo Johnson ’23 talked about his religion and the language dynamics in his family; Nick Maguigad ’21 talked about Venezuelan politics and his family’s connection to the oil industry, as well as his ties to family down south. As for ourselves, I (Jorge) talked about racial dynamics in Mexico (something I’ve dealt with frequently, as a white Mexican), and I (Victor) gave a brief overview of my memories with my family back in El Salvador (a country that’s not well known at all to a majority of the Close, despite the high population of Salvadoreans residing in the D.C. area).
One thing remained clear throughout the assembly: Not only were these countries’ cultures distinct, but even the stories of members from the same country reflected completely different experiences and stories. This was exactly what we wanted to show: Latinos are not a monolith, and we all have our own stories to tell.
The assembly was a success. Our stories were genuine and entertaining, but most of all, they were personal. The stories resounded with our classmates and teachers because they were our own stories. When I (Jorge) talked about my struggle in the immigration process, I was recounting a first-hand experience that many students didn’t know about me. As for me (Victor), it was my first time ever opening up to the St. Albans community about who I was and what my background consists of.
With only about eight percent of the school’s student body being of Latinx background, it can be difficult to feel heard. The Latinx affinity group members were grateful and proud to have the opportunity to voice ourselves and show a piece of our cultures and how they’ve shaped the people we are today. We believe that in a way, we connected our countries to St. Albans, a place that can, at times, seem like the farthest possible place from Latin America. I think we brought it a little closer that day.