Half of both September and October mark Hispanic Heritage Month — a chance to recognize and celebrate important contributions from Americans who also happen to be from a Hispanic background.
One of the important facts being talked about this month is what the new census numbers told us about the growing number of Hispanic Americans. As you learned in today’s pop quiz, in the U.S., Hispanics make up 16% of the population.
Numbers aside, we also wanted to hear from Hispanic Americans about their experience in this country — something that goes beyond statistics. Adriana Diaz and I asked three young people some questions to found out more during a round table discussion on Wednesday.
One of our questions was what is your family’s version of the American dream?
“My family’s version of the American dream is seeing me pretty much doing what they weren’t able to do. The fact is that they came here and they faced struggles, they faced discrimination. And they had to stand in a bodega from seven in the morning to seven at night for me to be able to accomplish my goals. That’s what the American dream represents to me,” shared Maria, 21.
Dan, 22, said, “My family’s version of the American dream is all about having a strong work ethic. Sacrificing and working hard for your family is what America’s all about and what this country was founded on. Both my parents are part of the first wave of Latinos to go to Harvard from this area from this town. So their story is remarkable and it’s what inspires me. I have to take it up a notch. That’s what we always say, like Emeril, “take it up a notch!’”
Finally, Isaac, 22, responded, “My family’s version of the American dream is being able to do everything that they were unable to do growing up in Bolivia. Growing up in Bolivia, they were not able to get an education, especially a college education, because they were working. They had to either bake or sell newspapers or a variety of other odd jobs. And so, for them, for me being able to go to college is really a blessing.”
The United States has often been described as a melting pot in which many different cultures come together and share the best part of their heritage with each other. Designated months and days give us an opportunity to remind ourselves of this — so, if you’re not Hispanic, find a friend and talk to them about their background. If you’d like to, share their responses in the comments. And of course, if you do have a Hispanic background, tell us what the American Dream means to you and your family.
For the rest of the questions we asked Isaac, Maria and Dan, watch the video below.