“Delicioso!” rang through the UICS-St. Mark Center theatre as students learned a new word in Spanish and enthusiastically enjoyed Sopapilla Cheesecake (yes, it is as delicious as it sounds) to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month spans September 15 to October 15 and celebrates the history, culture, and generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively enriched and influenced our society.

It only seemed appropriate for United Inner City Services (UICS) to honor Hispanic tradition and culture by introducing students to a very special recipe considering people of every culture use food in tandem with celebration.

“This is Ms. Norma’s great grandmother’s recipe that she used to make to celebrate quinceañeras in her family.” shared Amiel “Chef” Brosoto , Lead Chef for all UICS centers, during a live demonstration. The students learned that quinceañeras are festive parties to celebrate a girl’s 15th birthday, an event popular in many Hispanic cultures.  

Norma Monreal, one of Mr. Amiel’s sous-chefs, assisted and offered Spanish translation for the ingredients and other common phrases requested by the students. Norma moved to Kansas City from Mexico fifteen years ago, and Spanish is her first language. 

 

Here are a few responses Norma shared in her native tongue: 

¿Que te gustó más de compartir esta receta con los estudiantes? (What did you like most about sharing this recipe with the students?)

 “La convivencia con los ninos compartir con ellos algo de mi Mexico.” (Coming together with the children to share something of Mexico with them.

 

¿Por qué elegiste el pastel queso sopapilla? (Why did you choose the sopapilla cheesecake?)

“Es un postre tradicional mexicano y es fácil de hacer y es delicioso.” (It is a traditional Mexican dessert and it is easy to make and it is delicious.)

 

In addition to a mid-morning sweet treat, this presentation offered UICS students a fun and innovative opportunity to learn Hispanic tradition. 

“We wanted to use our talents on hand to celebrate Hispanic culture, especially since so many of our students and families are Hispanic.” offered Merril Hunt, UICS-St. Mark Training and Curriculum Manager. 

This authentic Hispanic recipe rooted in familial tradition and shared by Norma allowed UICS’ little learners to savor learning new cultural concepts and connect in a remarkably special way. UICS is grateful to our exceptional staff for making these experiences possible. 

Students also participated in an interactive Flamenco dancing lesson. While joyfully practicing new dance moves, they learned that Flamenco is a musical style and dance form taken from folk music traditions in Spain. 

For many of our students who don’t identify as Hispanic or are familiar with these experiences, these activities introduced them to a new culture and helped to cultivate a positive perspective about embracing difference.

In a multicultural world and organization, UICS continually searches for new and engaging ways to encourage diversity within our community of staff, students, and families. We want to empower our students and families to share new traditions and cultures with us. Incorporating these quality learning experiences through the lens of someone else’s culture, or the celebration of one’s own, promotes classroom conversations and lessons about diversity. Our goal is to support themes of mindfulness and inclusion for our students.

“I believe about 15% of our student and family population is Hispanic. It’s important for the children to see themselves in our books, activities, art, and the people around them at UICS.” said Ms. Merrill. 

UICS is proud to foster a respect for the great variety in cultures represented at UICS and beyond. Every day, our little learners are developing appreciation for what makes people different. 

Rather than viewing difference as a separating factor, UICS embraces them, celebrates them, and allows them to unify us.

Juntos, somos mejores. (Together, we are better.)