Honoring Our Multicultural Heritage

SLUH honored the contributions and influence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States during National Hispanic Heritage Month. The all-school morning prayer service during the week of October 4 was dedicated to reflecting and praying for several of these American heroes who advanced the common good.

Prayer reflection by Ismael Karim '22 (October 4)

Jovita Idár was born in 1885 in Laredo, Texas. From an early age, Idár was exposed to journalism and political activism. After resigning from her teaching job due to the segregation and poor conditions for Mexican-American students, she decided to advocate for Latinos at a time when the Mexican-American community in Texas frequently faced violence and lynching. She took to her fathers’s newspaper La Crónica to write articles about racism, the revolution in Mexico. And her support of women’s suffrage and a women’s right to vote.

During this time she founded and became the first president of La Liga Feminil Mexicaista (the League of Mexican Women). This feminist organization started their activism by providing education for Mexican-American students. A few years later, Idár decided to go to Mexico to take care of the injured during the Mexican Revolution. Later that year, she returned to Texas and began working at the El Progreso newspaper. While she was there, she wrote an article protesting President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send United States troops to the border. The United States Army and the Texas Rangers did not like that she spoke out, so they went to the offices of El Progreso to shut it down. When the Rangers arrived, Idár stood in front of the door and would not let them in. However, they returned later and forced El Progreso to shut down.

Even though El Progreso shut down, Idár remained committed to her community by volunteering in a hospital as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients, and started a free kindergarten for children. Jovita Idár died in San Antonio, Texas in 1946. Idar was a prime example of a counter cultural figure, who worked with resilience and poise to better her people, paving the way for generations of all Americans to do the same.

Prayer (Spanish)
Querido señor, Te agradecemos por nuestra maravillosa diversidad, por nuestras culturas, tradiciones e idiomas, por todas las formas en que celebramos nuestra humanidad y alabado sea tu señor. Te pedimos que continúes bendiciendonos con personas como Jovita, defensores de las personas, que continúan haciendo el mundo un lugar mejor.

Durante este mes, te pedimos que a través de tu amor y espíritu, todos podamos aprender sobre las contribuciones de los latinos en nuestro país y trabajar para crear una escuela, una iglesia y un mundo más unido.

Prayer (English)
Dear Lord, we thank you for our wondrous diversity, for our cultures, traditions and languages, for all the ways we celebrate our humanity and praise your divinity. We ask that you continue to bless us all with people like Jovita, champions who continue to make the world a better place.

During this month, we ask that through your love and spirit, we are all able to learn about the contributions of Latinos in our country and work to create a more unified school, church and world. Amen.

Prayerful reflection by Spanish teacher Javier Moreno (October 5)

The biblical narrative is full of migrations of different communities. Sometimes the migration was directed by the explicit will of God. Sometimes it was prompted by force, hunger, or persecution. Whatever their reasons for moving, immigrants portrayed in the Bible often contributed their talents to the common good of the host nation. For example, Joseph's forced emigration resulted in his saving Egypt and neighboring nations from famine. Ruth's migration because of hunger put her in place to be a link in Jesus' earthly genealogy.

The migration of the first Christians transformed the norms of the known world. Today, in the United States, the talents of immigrants, particularly the talents of hispanic and latinos have contributed to the arts, sciences, public services, private companies, sports, and many other areas of public life. 

God has a blessing for those who receive the immigrant: "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world … for I was a stranger, and you welcomed me ….” I personally was a stranger to this country at some point, to this town, to this school. It took time, hard work and resilience on my part as well as the efforts of the people around me to truly become part of their lives and their communities. Being an immigrant is not easy. I still have moments where I feel like my culture and language doesn’t fully align with what surrounds me and when navigating what feels like two different identities proves to be a challenge. Today we pray for all the Hispanos and Latinos that might still feel like strangers in a foreing land. Those latinos around the world, in our country, in our town and in our school that are still struggling with their identities and backgrounds in a world where being Latino and Hispanic can mean so many different things. We thank those students at SLUH who make this place even more special with their talents, their ideas and their cultures and we pray for our community to continue to make efforts to learn from them, to get to know them and make them feel appreciated and loved. 

Prayer (Spanish)
Dios, ayúdanos a apreciar los talentos y contribuciones de los estudiantes Latinos en nuestra escuela. Guía nuestros corazones y nuestras mentes para recordar y actuar con amor y amabilidad con cada uno de ellos. Ayúdanos a recordar que cada inmigrante puede estar luchando una batalla personal y difícil de la cual no sabemos nada. Nuestra capacidad creciente para amar sin barreras o restricciones nos acercará más a tí. Amen. 

Prayer (English)
God, help us appreciate the talents and contributions of the Latino students in our school. Guide our hearts and our minds to remember to act with love and kindness towards each one of them. Helps us remember that each immigrant might be fighting a personal hard battle that we know nothing about. Our growing capacity to love without boundaries or restrictions will bring us closer to you. Amen. 

Prayer reflection by Ismael Karim '22 (October 6)

Throughout the past year, Latinos have been foundational in ensuring that the nation keeps running. From the Latinos who helped develop the vaccine, to those who were picking fruit ensuring that we were able to have food on the table, Latino excellence has been put on full display. And excellence has arguably been most influential and evident in the classrooms around the country and globe. Today, we honor all our faculty and staff, but specifically those that are latino.

In the United States there are over 295,000 Latino teachers dedicated to students from all backgrounds. One of those teachers was Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trias. Dr. Helen Trías was the First Latina President of the American Health Association. Dr. Trias was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City. As a child, she experienced bias for simply being Latina and was “placed in a class with students who were academically challenged, even though she had good grades and knew how to speak English. Dr. Trias later went on to graduate from medical school at Universidad de Puerto Rico with highest honors. Her accomplishments include founding the first center for newborn children in Puerto Rico and serving as Director of Pediatrics at Lincoln Hospital in South Bronx, NY. In addition, Dr. Trias went on to lead the New York City Department of Health Mental Hygiene.

She helped “bring national attention to the devastation caused by HIV and AIDS among inner city mothers and children. In 1993, the American Public Health Association elected her their first Latina president. While achieving success in the medical field, Dr. Trias never forgot where she came from. During her presidency at the America Public Health Association, she was teaching science courses at a middle school in the South Bronx. Dr. Trias is not only a prime example of a living American dream, but also an example of an amazing human being. For all her achievements, Bill Clinton awarded Rodríguez Trías with the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian award in the United States, for her work on behalf of women, children, people with HIV and AIDS, and poor people.

Dr. Trías is just another example of a person doing great work. Oftentimes, our educators are not granted the acknowledgment or recognition they deserve. Especially those, so many of whom are latino, that pay out of pocket expenses to ensure that their students have food to eat and all the resources they need to thrive.

Prayer (Spanish)
Querido señor, Bendice a los educadores que entregan su corazón a la enseñanza. Gracias por el regalo especial que nos has dado y por darles un espíritu de fuerza y compasión. Que tengan el espíritu y la resistencia para realizar sus muchas tareas. Le pedimos que bendiga a nuestros educadores y especialmente educadores latinos este mes, que comprendan la importancia que juegan en el futuro de las generaciones latinas y el impacto de tener a alguien como ustedes en nuestras clases.

Prayer (English)
Dear Lord, Bless the teachers who give their heart to teaching. Thank you for the special gift that you have given them and for giving them a spirit of grace and compassion. May they have the strength and endurance to perform their many tasks. We ask you to especially bless our latino teachers and staff this month, may they understand the importance they play in the future of latino generations to come, and the impact of having someone that looks like them in a classroom. Amen.

Prayerful reflection by Spanish teacher Javier Moreno (October 7)

Today we remember the hard work, vision and wisdom of Cesar Chavez. Union Leader and Civil Rights Activist of Mexican American descent, Cesar worked his whole life to improve the lives of millions of agricultural workers, many of whom lived in poverty and hardship. This was something Chavez was familiar with. During his childhood in the 1940’s he felt the sting of racism in the public schools. He was called “dirty Mexican” by classmates and was swatted with a ruler for speaking Spanish.

As a labor leader, Chavez employed nonviolent means to bring attention to the plight of farm workers. He led marches, called for boycotts and went on several hunger strikes. His dedication to his work earned him numerous friends and supporters, including Robert Kennedy and Jesse Jackson. He is truly an inspiration and a hero for many Latinos and Hispanics.

Most scholars and researchers, often ignore the profound role of spirituality in his personal life and the broader farm workers movement. In the words of Chávez, “Today I don’t think I could base my will to struggle on cold economics or on some political doctrine. I don’t think there would be enough to sustain me. For me, the base must be faith.” For Chávez, fasting was a spiritual exercise and a form of penance for his own sins as well as those of his supporters. It was not just a “hunger strike” aimed at accomplishing a political goal or forcing his adversaries to submit to his demands. It was also a search for God’s divine intervention in “la causa” (the cause) and to purify himself and the farmworkers movement from the temptation to appropriate violence.  

During this Hispanic heritage month we pray to God to help us fight social injustice without violence and to stand up for what is right.

Prayer (Spanish)
Dios, ayúdanos a identificar la injusticia cuando la vemos. Ayúdanos a entender mejor las circunstancias en las que otras personas tienen que vivir sus vidas. Ayúdanos a encontrar la fuerza y la valentía para decir algo cuando la gente es maltratada o privada de sus derechos. Ayúdanos a hacer esto sin destruir, sin atacar, sin lastimar a nadie. Tú nos has enseñado a amarnos los unos a los otros incondicionalmente bajo tu santa voluntad. Amen,

Prayer (English)
God, help us identify injustice when we see it. Help us gain understanding of what other people in different circumstances than mine have to go through in order to live their lives. Help us find the strength and courage to speak up when people are mistreated or violated of their rights. Help us to do this without destroying, without attacking, without harming anyone. You have taught us to love one another unconditionally under your divine command. Amen.

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