Volunteers celebrate their diverse cultures and identities in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

By Peace Corps
Sept. 15, 2023

Being Hispanic means to something different to every Hispanic person. It’s influenced by their upbringing, their culture, their family, friends, and community. The list goes on and on. There isn’t one way of being Hispanic, and the experience is unique to every individual.

This year, for Hispanic Heritage Month, we are highlighting the diversity of our Volunteers’ culture and experience by sharing some of their favorite things about being Hispanic.


Volunteer Edgar takes a selfie on a mountaintop
Edgar, who serves as a Volunteer in Panama, grew up in a Spanish-speaking community in Texas. He says his Spanish skills have allowed him to quickly connect with his community during service..

Edgar is a self-proclaimed Texican: a Mexican-American from Texas. He grew up in a Spanish-speaking immigrant community with other first-generation children who embraced being bicultural.

“Being a Chicano has allowed me to appreciate two societies whereby I can coexist between two cultures,” said Edgar, who is serving in Panama. “One day, I can celebrate a costumed holiday like Halloween, and the next day, remember my ancestors for Dia de los Muertos with ofrendas and alebrijes. This is my favorite part of my particular Hispanic culture: the unapologetic respect for the dead and the healthy relationship I’ve developed with the mysterious notion of death.”

Edgar is proud of his Hispanic identity and heritage. He doesn’t feel misplaced in American or Mexican societies. He feels lucky to have found a balance between both cultures.

This balance led to him having a different experience from non-Hispanic Volunteers during service. His duality and language skills have allowed him to quickly connect with his community and in ways that some of his fellow Volunteers have not.

“Within my language fluency, there’s a cultural understanding inherently shared throughout most of Latin America that I have the privilege of being privy to.”


Stephany is a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteer in Ecuador. She’s a first-generation Mexican American who grew up watching telenovelas with her sisters and grandma and whose favorite dish is mole. There are a lot of things she loves about her Mexican heritage, but Chinelos and music are her favorites.

Stephany poses in front of a flag.
Stephany is a first-generation Mexican American Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ecuador.

“My family is from Morelos, Mexico. One of the traditions in Morelos are the Chinelos, which are a group of men or women disguised in lavish costumes with masks, robes, hats, and gloves.”

Originally, Chinelos mocked Europeans and European traditions from the colonial period.

“Today, they serve not only as a representation of our honor and pride for our heritage, but as a form of entertainment at weddings, quinceañeras, parties, etc. Chinelos dance to traditional Mexican music, which is also a part of my Hispanic culture that I love," Stephany said. "From bandas to corridos to norteñas and rancheras, our music offers something for everyone to love.”

Being bicultural allows Stephany to expand others’ perspectives. She’s able to introduce people to a culture they weren’t familiar with before just by sharing a bit about herself. It happened while she was back home in Georgia, and it happens now during service in Ecuador.

“While host country nationals are excited to learn about my American culture, I get asked just as many questions about my Mexican culture,” she said. “I get asked how spicy I like … my food, as well as if I listen to Peso Pluma. Host country nationals and I share many similarities, yet there are so many differences, so it’s fun to see how the cultures coincide.”

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