Celebrating Culture, Touring the Americas without Leaving the Building
Every year, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls celebrates Latine Heritage Month with special educational events for our youth and coworkers. A committee of our coworkers was tasked to design a program of activities that would encourage our young people to take on more direct responsibility in planning and executing. One of the committee’s members, Edgar Zavala, proposed an event that would make it easy and fun for our young people to get creative and interact with one another.
“I pitched this idea of ‘Passport Through the Americas’ where all the [youth] could teach each other about what they learned about a specific country or region,” Zavala said. “The best presentation would win a prize.”
On October 19, our young men gathered in our cafeteria to present their hand-crafted displays representing countries such as Ecuador, Cuba, Mexico, and Columbia. The cardboard posters, websites, and dioramas included fun facts about food, history, landmarks, historical figures, and even personal experiences. “The day of the presentation, I saw how much thought they put into it,” Zavala said.
One of our kids stood at the lectern and presented a website that he and his peers made. A youth care worker spoke passionately about the importance of his own Hispanic identity. Other youth and staff made food such as Mexican conchas and pineapple water to share.
They truly went above and beyond to use what they know to present to their peers.
“I really felt that it was something different this year,” Zavala said. “It’s exactly how we’d pictured it. We made this for them. I saw how much thought they put into it. They truly went above and beyond to use what they know to present to their peers.”
As the kids rotated through the different presentations, they received stickers from the country represented by each. The event concluded with a piñata and the kids dove on the ground to pick up candy.
The impact of the event will be felt as time passes as well. Some kids asked if they could cook the food again sometime while others said that they had learned fun facts of countries they never knew about.
Passport Through the Americas was part of a larger, month-long celebration at the Home and was educational for all of our youth, regardless of their backgrounds. But it was a special opportunity to celebrate heritage for the nearly 30% of our youth who can trace their ancestries to countries throughout Latin America. We are thankful to all our coworkers who made this incredible and meaningful event possible.