Hispanic Heritage Month starts with N.H Salvadorans’ festivities
Around 20 people celebrated the Salvadoran flag raising in Manchester this Friday. Among them were immigrants from other Latin American countries and Americans who appreciate multiculturalism.
Maria Perez is a Salvadoran state representative from Milford who remembers her country for its lush vegetation, rivers and its people. She organized the event to see her motherland flag raised in Manchester for the first time. Her goal was to include Latinos and people from other cultures.
“I don’t want [other] groups that are underrepresented to feel excluded,” she said.
Perez honored her country wearing a white embroidered blouse and a red skirt with indigenous patterns from El Salvador, while Jason Bonilla, a Manchester school board member, wore a Salvadoran soccer T-shirt. He was also an event organizer.
Bonilla is a son of Salvadoran immigrants who crossed the border by foot. He says the sacrifice of her mother raising him inspired him to see that flag raised on American soil.
Damond Ford, who is a representative from Manchester, said he appreciates other cultures, but has a special place in his heart for places where people fought for freedom. “In particular, celebrating that in America,” he said.
The organizers were also encouraging others to enjoy the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts on Sept. 15th.
Mayor Joyce Craig said Salvadorans are contributing to the city with businesses, industry, art, faith, education and politics. She says what she appreciates the most about Hispanics are the long lasting friendships she has made.
“And the food is amazing,” she said. “The dancing, celebrations, and the music.”
She noted Manchester has put forward a Multicultural Advisory Board, and she is would like to support similar initiatives at state level. But Sebastian Fuentes, from Peru, thinks state and local governments could also celebrate Hispanic culture by promoting Spanish classes at elementary schools.
“To be inclusive, to be welcoming to everybody,” Fuentes said. “For them to understand where we come from.”
Bonilla echoes that opinion. He says that’s one way of really establishing conversations that go beyond words.
“For me it's important to be bilingual, especially when you are serving a community whose primary first language it’s not English,” he said.
Read more of NHPR’s coverage in Spanish: ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire?