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youth staff loteria

By Patty Garza, Volunteer Services Coordinator – Ayres House and South Parole District

As we bid hasta luego to Hispanic Heritage Month 2020, we're happy to report that the young men at Ayres Halfway House know quite a bit more about Hispanic traditions, thanks to Texas state Social Work Intern Fernando Vargas and other Ayres staff.

pandedulceVargas presented the youth with a talk that explained that one’s heritage is more than just food and music, but also history, culture, art and shared experiences.

His presentation, though, didn’t forget about the food and the music. The youth munched on pan de dulce (traditional sweet breads and pastries) as Vargas discussed Hispanic cuisine and cultural activities, such as salsa and merengue dancing.

He reviewed a variety of Hispanic music traditions, including the Tejano music of Selena and Emilio Navaira and the Latin rock/blues of Carlos Santana, among others, as he sampled Tejano, conjunto and Spanish jazz.

Vargas also exhorted the young men to be proud of their heritage, learn more about Hispanic culture and the traditions of other people of different backgrounds.

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) grew out of National Hispanic Heritage Week, started by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. It celebrates the traditions and cultures of all Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

loteriaAt Ayres Halfway House, many staff, youth and volunteers came together to celebrate this special month. Case manager Claudia Hawkins organized an activity with the youth in which they made Loteria bingo cards. Loteria is the Spanish word for lottery, which is a game of chance like bingo and a traditional game celebrating the Hispanic culture.

Before the celebration, Vargas decided to learn more about what the boys of Hispanic descent knew about their culture. He completed a cultural assessment survey with Ayres youth to better understand their interests and knowledge.

Human Service Specialist Stephanie Trujillo-Ramirez helped with the presentation and afterward, everyone played a round of Loteria with the cards the youth had made.

Youth of Hispanic descent shared their family traditions and others asked questions. Everyone enjoyed great conversation and sharing.