National Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Gerson Velasquez
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, celebrating the histories, traditions, cultures, languages, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Over the next four weeks, the Chamber will be featuring four community leaders. We asked each of them to share their perspectives and how being Hispanic has influenced their lives, personally, and professionally.
Growing up Hispanic was a wonderful experience. My wife and I came to America when we were in our early twenties and quickly felt welcomed and loved by the American people. We learned that America truly is the land of opportunity if you are willing to work for it. We learned the language, adopted the culture, paid our dues to society, and became citizens of this fantastic country.
What are ways that you honor your culture in your daily life?
There are a few ways. First and foremost, by respecting the laws of our country and being a role model for future Latino generations through hard work and a positive outlook. Additionally, I make an effort to give back to the Latino community through volunteering with local groups and helping those in need.
What are some of the challenges you have faced and overcome?
The language barrier was a big hurdle to overcome. Upon arriving in the United States, I had to learn a whole new language.
Why do you think it is so important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
The Hispanic community contributes significantly to our society. I feel it’s incredibly important to recognize that.
What would you like to share about your own cultural identity?
We are faith-based and incredibly family-oriented people. It’s what guides our lives.
How can others celebrate?
I encourage others to read books by Latino authors, attend Latino festivals, or even just sit down and ask questions to those in the Latino community closest to you.
What country are you, or your relatives, from? What brought them to the United States?
My wife and I are from El Salvador, Central America. We came to America to escape from the war and violence in our home country during the 80s and 90s.
What are some traditions, celebrations, or rituals your family participates in?
Gathering around the table for a good meal to celebrate almost everything. We utilize every holiday, celebration, or special occasion as a reason to come together with family and friends. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July are some of the most meaningful holidays that we celebrate every year.
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