Each year, September 15 kicks off National Hispanic American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain.
How do these important celebrations happen at a railroad?
Union Pacific’s Latino Employee Network (LEN) employee resource group (ERG) has a calendar of events planned to explore Hispanic culture, take part in cultural experiences, and partake in enriching professional development opportunities.
“These events provide a platform to showcase the rich cultural traditions, languages, and stories that define each Latin American country,” said Marcela Morales, LEN President and Senior Recruiter for Union Pacific’s Workforce Resources team. “As a Mexican immigrant leading an ERG with members from various backgrounds, I believe these events celebrate our shared connections while respecting our individual experiences. They foster a sense of belonging and acceptance for all members, creating an environment where everyone's heritage is valued. Moreover, these events serve as educational opportunities, promoting cross-cultural understanding among employees and strengthening relationships within the workplace.”
Mariachi and Pan Dulces
The Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off event brings together colors, rhythms, and flavors to celebrate the rich tapestry of Hispanic culture.
Attendees enjoyed entertainment by a mariachi group and delicious pan dulces.
- Mariachi is a small music ensemble that plays Mexican folk music. Mariachi bands are known for playing horns and stringed instruments while strolling through the streets or serenading restaurant goers. The soulful melodies of Mariachi will tug at your heartstrings and transport you to the heart of Mexico's musical tradition.
- Pan dulce means "sweet bread” in Spanish and is a general term for Mexican pastries of different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Types of pan dulce include buñuelos, churros, conchas, danesa, fruit-filled empanadas, Mexican wedding cookies, orejas and more.
Hispanic Heritage Month Trivia
During this trivia showdown, participants will immerse themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Hispanic culture while competing for prizes. The event will challenge participants’ knowledge of Hispanic heritage and serve as a means of honoring and preserving traditions, historical events, and noteworthy Hispanic Americans.
With help from a seasoned dancer, participants will learn popular dances like Salsa and Bachata.
- Salsa is one of the most popular Latin dances. Both the dance and music originated in Cuba. Salsa dancing evolved to incorporate elements of both Cuban and Puerto Rican dance forms and quickly spread across Latin American and the United States. Today, Salsa dancing is practiced worldwide.
- Bachata is a partners’ dance inspired by bachata music, which originated in the Dominican Republic. Bachata comes in many forms, including traditional, Bachatango, Bachata fusion, sensual, and ballroom.
At this event, employees will gather to play the cherished Mexican game Loteria, enjoy snacks and compete for prizes.
- Lotería (the Spanish word for “lottery”) is similar to Bingo but with a more vibrant flair. Instead of using balls with numbers on them, Loteria uses a deck of colorful cards, each its own work of art. The leader pulls one from the deck, reads the corresponding name and number (often in a musical callout!) and players mark their tabla when they get a match. The winner is the first player to fill their card and shout "¡Buena!" or "¡Lotería!".
Language is a crucial part of any culture, and learning to speak Spanish is an excellent entry point to understanding and supporting Hispanic culture.
Rosenda Ovalle on Imposter Syndrome
Hispanic American Heritage Month celebrates history and culture, but it also celebrates the contributions of Hispanic Americans. Guest speaker Rosenda Ovalle will present on Imposter Syndrome — what is it, why it happens, and how to manage it.
Professional development opportunities like Ovalle’s presentation support employee growth and the contributions they will make to the workplace, their homes, and their communities.
Why Celebrate National Hispanic American Heritage Month at Work?
Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month at work creates a more inclusive environment for employees, strengthens bonds between coworkers, and has a positive impact on employee engagement. According to Gallup, engaged employees have higher wellbeing, better retention, lower absenteeism and higher productivity.
“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month allows us to honor and showcase the rich and diverse contributions that Hispanic and Latinx individuals have made to our country's history, culture, and society,” Morales said. “Acknowledging our heritage helps break down stereotypes, fosters inclusivity, and promotes understanding among colleagues from various backgrounds. It provides an opportunity for us to educate our colleagues about our traditions, achievements, and challenges, ultimately fostering a more inclusive workplace that values diversity."
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