Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) recently asked Claudia Arteaga, who recently began as the district’s ESL College and Career Readiness Coordinator, what National Hispanic Heritage Month means to her.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
Arteaga was born and raised in Mexico, immigrating with her family to the U.S. six years ago when she was 18. In April 2017, she began her educational journey at the Newcomer Program before transitioning to Arsenal Technical High School for 2018-2019. After completing her studies at IPS in 2020, she continued her education at Marian University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
While at Newcomer, Arteaga learned how the American education system works and was inspired by the diversity of the country she discovered. The help she received from the teachers also motivated her to learn the language to continue her studies. Consequently, when it came time to complete her internship, she wanted to return to Newcomer and give back to the community that supported her. By doing so, she relayed her experiences back to many of her former classmates and inspired youngsters at the school.
Q—What does Hispanic Awareness Month mean to you?
A—To answer this briefly I can say that this month means pride, celebration, dance, food, colors, and lots of emotion. Knowing that I can celebrate my heritage here in Indianapolis makes me feel closer to Mexico, my culture, and my roots. I believe that it is important to recognize diversity and to commemorate our ancestors and what they did for us. We now have a better life. It is also important that this celebration continues from generation to generation so as not to forget our history, where we come from, and how capable Hispanics are of going very far.
Q—What do you think people should know about being Hispanic?
A—Being Hispanic is being a warm, humble, and, above all, mostly very hard-working person. We Hispanics distinguish ourselves by our food, music, and culture. People should know that Hispanics are people with a great sense of humor, responsible, and friendly and our priority will always be family and those close to us. Being Hispanic is being a person who never gives up and will always give 101% in everything we do.
Q—How will you and/or your family celebrate it?
A — On Sept.15, my mom made tamales and pozole to commemorate the independence of Mexico. For the next two days, we meet as a family and have dinner together, remembering our family in Mexico and sometimes we watch “El Grtio” on TV. This month is special for me and my family because we can feel that we can celebrate and continue our traditions even though we are far from our home country. I am honestly grateful that in Indy there are organizations like La Plaza and Indiana Latino Institute that promote events where Hispanics can go out and mingle with our community.
Q —How does being of Hispanic Heritage influence your job at IPS?
A — I have only been working at IPS for a couple of months and I am happy that IPS is a diverse organization and that more and more Hispanics are taking positions in the school district. We must consider that the Hispanic population is increasing and at IPS the Hispanic heritage influences when my co-workers share part of our cultural heritage through music, language, or food during different district events.
Q—Who was your most influential Hispanic person or family member growing up and why?
A – The person who has always influenced my growth has been my mother. She has always been my greatest supporter, inspiring me to be a better person and always pursue my dreams. Ever since I was little, my mother taught me about the traditions of my town, about our “typical” foods, and about the importance of family. Above all else, she taught me how to be a strong woman, feel proud of my roots, and be proud of being Mexican.