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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

By Idalia “Charly” Leuze, Integration Coordinator, SW/WC Service Cooperative and WCIC (West Central Integration Collaborative)

Each year from Sept. 15 through Oct, 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated. It is during this time that America honors the history, culture and contributions of U.S. Citizens who celebrate their Hispanic heritage.

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While many believe that the word Hispanic refers to a race, it is actually an ethnic terms referring to diverse peoples of many different races and origins who share a commonality of the Spanish language. U.S. citizens with Hispanic heritage trace their ancestry not only to Spain, and other European countries, and Mexico, but also to the Caribbean and to the Spanish speaking countries of Central and South America. In Willmar, the Latino population consist of the following Latino countries: Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Panama, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Make time this month to celebrate Hispanic heritage. Sept. 16 was Mexican Independence Day — this (or any day the next month) is a good occasion to visit your local library and read a book written by a Hispanic author, watch a movie with a famous Hispanic actor/actress, or have a piñata birthday party for your child and fill with Mexican candies that are sold in many authentic Mexican stores throughout West Central Minnesota.

While Hispanic Heritage month ends Oct. 15, there are many opportunities in our own local communities to learn more about the Hispanic culture through the year. In October, most Mexicans celebrate “Dia de los Muertos” (“Day of the Dead”). In Willmar, some students will be making small skull heads made out of white sugar in their Spanish classrooms and learn about the meaning of this very popular tradition. This celebration is done to remember our loved ones that have passed on and it is a way of paying tribute to their lives. Personally, I like to make “mole,” which is a Mexican food dish that consists of tender pieces of chicken covered in a sauce made out of peanuts, chili peppers and even a hint of chocolate — it was my mom’s favorite.

There are so many great things about being part of such a rich heritage that it impossible to mention it all here, However, I am so glad I get to share some educational opportunities for our students through the work we do here at the SW/WC Service Cooperative, as we work on a daily basis to broaden the horizons of other cultures. The West Central Integration Collaborative (WCIC) serves the communities of Atwater, Cosmos and Grove City (ACGC); Bird Island, Olivia, Lake Lillian (BOLD); Danube, Renville,and Sacred Heart (RCW); Kerkhoven, Murdock and Sunburg (KMS); Maynard, Clara City, Raymond (MACCRAY); Montevideo; New London-Spicer (NL-S); and Willmar. We work toward the goal of increased awareness of cultural diversity.

Visit us on the web at for more information on activities and ways to become involved with multicultural activities in your area.