It is Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts from Oct. 15 to Sept. 15. During this month our culture is celebrated through festivals, pride, social media posts and more. However, Sept. 16 has always been the most important date to me as it is Mexico’s Independence Day. 

There is a main central square in Mexico known as El Zocalo. It’s a plaza full of history and has become the main gathering place for events like “el grito” and independence day celebrations. Growing up, I loved tuning in to watch El Zocalo filled with my people. It always amazed me how many people would gather to show their pride. The singing, dancing and chants from thousands of people was incredible. This event always reassured me that I was proud of who I am and where I come from. 

Although this was the case, for the past couple of years I failed to be involved in my culture and community. I used to live in California prior to moving to Goshen five years ago. I found that the Hispanic pride and events were constant in my city. The amount of culture present with shops and mariachis at most corners, in-school celebrations, and many more symbolic attributes made Santa Ana, California, feel like home away from home. I never felt like I lacked being away from my culture as I was constantly participating in it. 

However, after the move I began to lose this. The difference in representation shut me out from truly being able to show who I am. This did not mean that I lost my pride, but I lost the comfort to be able to show it. Before, I would not think “oh, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month,” since it felt like it was always celebrated. Now, I can’t wait to reach this time of year. I am able to celebrate who I am without feeling scared that I will be judged. 

This month brings me comfort in knowing that I will be supported by many when I celebrate my Mexican heritage. Although there is a large contrast between Santa Ana and Goshen in terms of my comfort of celebrating, Goshen has begun to move in the right direction to uphold its Latinx community. 

Goshen has recently started a new tradition — the Hispanic Heritage Festival. During this day, there are vendors selling art, clothing and food. There is live music representing all the different cultures and everyone gathered is pridefully representing who they are. 

As I walked downtown I saw people I knew wearing their respective countries’ flags and many wearing traditional clothing. I felt connected to everyone because we were all there to celebrate who we are. Hearing the music, smelling the food, seeing all the flags and watching the horses trot reminded me of how I used to feel five years ago. 

I was also able to attend this event with some of my closest friends which made it an even better experience. I was able to share a part of myself with them. 

“My experience was a full dive into the culture of my friends here in Goshen and many more at home,” said Kevin Liddell. His love for Hispanic culture was felt in his bones “from the live music,” in his stomach from the “delicious food” and in his soul by “the amazing people and history around.” 

I was also able to share this experience with my friend Manny Villanueva. He said: “I was able to connect with some of my roots through dancing, food and spending time with friends.” 

The three of us come from different backgrounds but were able to feel the love and joy for Hispanic culture. This festival is highly important as it brings everyone together while connecting back to who they are.

Overall, this month has become highly important to me as it is the time that I can truly celebrate who I am. I am able to feel connected to home once again.