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LAYC-Maryland's Anaissa Escobar Honors Hispanic Heritage Month PDF Print
Friday, 26 October 2012 14:23

On October 10, students from the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers at Langley Park's GED and Puentes: Bridging Youth to Healthy Behaviors programs were invited to participate at long-timer partner and supporter Prince George's Community College's Hispanic Heritage Celebration.

One of the students, Anaissa Escobar, represented her class as keynote speaker giving a powerful speech about what it means to be Hispanic.

"I was thankful to have the opportunity to educate people who may not know much about Hispanics. Not everyone has the same view about Hispanics. It is important to learn more Hispanic heritage and to also learn from other cultures," said Anaissa.

In addition to Anaissa's speech, the event's program included traditional Latin American dances and food.

See below for Anaissa's speech.

Good Afternoon everyone, my name is Anaissa Escobar. I am a GED student and Puentes Youth Leader at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers at Langley Park. I am also a mother, a sister, an aunt, a wife, and a friend; and best of all, I AM a PROUD LATINA. Thank you for coming to celebrate with us Hispanic Heritage month.  I also want to thank Prince George's Community College for allowing me the opportunity to share what it means to be Hispanic and for inviting Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers' students to this event.

So we are here today, but what is it that we are celebrating? To give you a little history, in September 1968 Congress authorized President Lyndon Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage week. Twenty years later in 1988, that week was expanded by Congress to include a month long celebration from September 15 to October 15. Today, we honor our rich cultures, traditions and our contributions to the United States. Hispanics are a very diverse community. We come from countries like El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Peru and many other Latin American countries. We are hard workers and are always trying to do our best. With 52 million Hispanics represented in all areas of our economy, we are making a big impact from politics to entertainment to education, and other fields.

We have many examples of Hispanics who are making a difference across the country, like Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. She is fighting hard to make sure we all have jobs. We also have role models like Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Justice in the Supreme Court. In Prince George's County, we have someone who comes from where we come from, who lives where we live and who is working to improve our community: that is Councilmember William Campos who represents District 2. We also have other role models in our community, from our family members, our teachers, and our community advocates like the GED students at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers. In the near future some of us will be joining other students here at the Prince George's Community College.

This year as a growing community, we are going to make our voices heard at the voting polls. We voted in record numbers in the last presidential election, and in this election, we are coming out again strong. I will be voting for the very first time to speak for those can't.

One month of Hispanic Heritage month celebration may not seem like a lot, but this month is an opportunity to highlight our accomplishments, and remember where we come from as a reminder of where we want to go. Let's also make a commitment to make this a year-long celebration, embrace our Hispanic roots and also let's learn from other cultures to honor the growing diversity in the United States.

For the young people in this room, let's remember that education is the door to our future. Without it, we have limited options for ourselves and our children.

Thanks to the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers for giving young people like me an opportunity to accomplish our goals. Thank you to the Prince George's Community College for opening your doors to us once we graduate.

Puentes: Bridging Youth to Healthy Behaviors is an initiative led by the Latin American Youth Center/Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers in collaboration with multiple stake-holders in northern Prince George's County that strives to increase public understanding of and public support for mental health services to youth and their families, particularly for the Spanish-speaking immigrant community. Students in Puentes Leadership Program gain the tools to talk about issues that impact their lives through public speaking lessons, media and advocacy training. Puentes is supported by the Consumer Health Foundation.