FORT BENNING, Ga (Oct 13) – As part of the Hispanic Heritage Month, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation personnel converged at Dexter Elementary on Thursday to provide students, teachers and parents an opportunity to observe and learn about different Hispanic countries.
Representing WHINSEC, instructors from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Panamá, Paraguay, and Perú were on hand with US representatives as interpreters. While each country's Senior Officer wore their daily-combat uniforms; spouses wore traditional costumes. Additionally, tables with an exhibition of cultural artifacts were on hand.
Dexter’s Librarian and Partner In Education (PIE) Coordinator, Ms. Kathy Porter commented, “The Hispanic Heritage assembly at Dexter Elementary was important to me because the students learned about other cultures and it teaches tolerance and acceptance of someone who may not speak the same language, practice the same religion, or follow the same cultural practices as them. As a result of this special event, the students at Dexter had the opportunity of learning to accept and appreciate one another. It is my hope that this will be an annual event as we plan for more Partners in Education opportunities.”
Ms. Shelly Edwards, parent and teacher at Dexter added, “The event was an incredible experience for students, teachers, and parents! The amount of excitement could be felt around the room as the children learned about different areas of the world!”
Each of the instructors had a small presentation where they explained where their respective country was located at; a few geographical uniqueness of their nations; and answered any questions the students had for them.
Brazilian Army Lt. Col. Luiz F. Coradini participated in the event. He engaged with the students asking them where Brazil was located, the name of the country’s capitol, what they were famous for, which cartoon featured Brazil during a movie.
“It was an incredible opportunity to show a bit of our countries. It was exciting to feel the children’s excitement and their interest in getting to know other cultures. Only WHINSEC can provide such an occasion, bringing together representatives from so many Latin American countries to share their cultures to the upcoming generation,” said Coradini
Echoing Coradini, Honduran Army Lt. Col. Roger Maldonado added, “It was a very pleasant experience to make our culture known to the children as a source of change for our future generations. I think the event was a very successful activity for children to learn about the Western Hemisphere. We appreciate the openness of the teachers and directors of the Dexter School for this type of learning experience.”
The event was the brainchild of the WHINSEC Chaplain and PIE coordinator, Chaplain (Maj.) Antonio Garcia Mendez. He coordinated with Porter an event to support the Dexter Elementary School during the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. WHINSEC sponsors Dexter School as part of Fort Benning's effort to outreach, build relationships and support the education system community of the Department of Education in Ft Benning
Garcia Mendez remarked, “The event at Dexter Elementary School was enriching and gratifying. Enriching because, as professionals of the Army, it allows us to instruct and exchange cultural knowledge with the new generation. Exchanges like this will enable us to celebrate ethnic and cultural diversity while fostering racial respect and tolerance. It is also gratifying, as it opens the spaces to serve our community, establish bonds of friendship and cooperate with the educational system to strengthen our nation's values and principles and our allies.”