Maya Rengifo – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 marks the 33rd anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month.
LRHS values all cultures on campus and takes this time to recognize the Hispanic staff that contribute to its academic success. This includes art teacher Adelas Salas, who brings endless amounts of creativity to our Mustangs every day.
Mustangs Ahead (MA): What is your background culturally and regarding Lakewood?
Adelas Salas (AS): This is my second year at LRHS and my fifth year as a high school teacher in Florida.
I was born and raised in Chile and moved to America when I was 17 years old.
MA: In what ways do you honor your heritage?
AS: It’s important for me to connect different elements of my daily life with that of my culture. For example, I start off my day by listening to Chilean folk music and I enjoy cooking Chilean food every day such as empanadas, humitas, or charquican. I love speaking my language, Spanish, with my family. This includes close relatives like my parents, my sister, and my grandmother. At night I read Chilean news to keep up with what’s happening in my country. They might be small elements, but it all makes me feel closer to home and honor who I am at my core.
MA: What does it mean to you to be of Hispanic heritage?
AS: I feel it is all about history and culture. It is a pride to be Hispanic. South America was conquered by the Spaniards and Portuguese and South America’s official language is Spanish. Chile’s official language is Spanish. So what specifically defines me as Hispanic is my way of living life. The way of expressing myself, living life with joy and positivity, and living life with passion within everything I do. For me, it really aligns with my family, the importance of staying in contact with them. I value and cherish the time I can spend with my family. Among Latin American countries we have different traditions, but we all share a similar history and certain values that makes me/us unique and united.
MA: What do you believe we can do more of to appropriately honor Hispanic contribution within America?
AS: We can definitely work to elevate and honor Hispanic/Latinx history all year. See, some people from America believe that if you are Hispanic, you are automatically Mexican. Through representation and education, we can change that stereotypical misconception. I love Mexican people, I visit Mexico every other year, but I don’t eat things like tortillas at home. My Chilean traditions, culture, and food are different from those of other countries in South and Central America. There are many different Hispanic students and professionals from different places that are making a difference in America right now. In the school system 9% of the teachers are Hispanic. People should learn about their stories and truly understand their history and origins.