Hispanic Heritage Month and the Community in Binghamton
by Cristi Bueno
The United States has been described as a salad bowl, among other things, and the Hispanic/Latino community makes up a large portion of this “salad.” According to the census, in the Binghamton area, Hispanics/Latinos make up about 7.6 percent of the population. The reasons why they come to this city include: ties with family and friends, cheaper rent, or a change of pace. The Hispanic community faces hardships in the United States as they learn to become active members of society. The language barrier, as well as job and transportation constraints are constant problems within the community, and Hispanics/Latinos often need resources to get by.
The American Civic Association (ACA) is a resource for immigrants, which often include those of Hispanic/Latino backgrounds. They offer refugee services, translation services, ESL classes, and, in addition, they organize events. I was lucky to speak with Edward Marte, the outreach and refugee resettlement coordinator for the ACA. He is of Dominican background and began working with the ACA in May of 2022. On October 15, he, together with his colleagues, organized an event to celebrate Hispanic heritage month.
I had the pleasure of going to this event at the ACA. The event was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot about the community in Binghamton. The atmosphere was festive and fun, as there was so much going on. There were people dancing, singing, talking, and more. There were lots of foods from local restaurants that helped provide Hispanic dishes for the event. These restaurants are from different cultures that were represented in the food, such as a Guatemalan dish or pollo guisado from the Dominican Republic. The music also represented diversity within the Spanish-speaking cultures, and people from different backgrounds further added to the exposition of culture at the event. There were also guest speakers and presentations with the objective of providing resources to the community. For example, a Molina Healthcare representative spoke about healthcare and insurance plans such as Medicaid that are offered in New York. There were also presentations that served to show different types of dances and music from Hispanic/Latino cultures, such as reggaeton, bachata, and merengue.
This event served the purpose of educating the people, offering services, and providing a space for the Hispanic/Latino community to share their culture. Edward Marte wants people to be aware of “our accomplishments” as a community. This event was a step in accomplishing his goal, which is a celebration of “our culture and where we come from.” Another one of his goals for the future is to further unite the Hispanic/Latino community in Central New York. In Edward’s words, “we are family, and we should stick together.”
Cristi Bueno is a student at Binghamton University. She is a Spanish minor currently taking the course Spanish in the Community.