Airmen throughout Joint Base Andrews, Md., taught children at the local Child Development Center about Hispanic American Heritage and culture Sept. 26 in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event marked the last of three involvement days at each of the CDCs on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amber Russell)
Staff Sgt. Capri Vasquez, 11th Wing Command Post controller, helps children at Joint Base Andrews Child Development Center II make their own Columbian flag in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 26. Airmen throughout Joint Base Andrews, Md., taught children on base about Hispanic American Heritage and culture. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amber Russell)
Senior Airman Emma Nielsen and Staff Sgt. Capri Vasquez, 11th Wing Command
Post controllers, help children at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Child Development Center II make their own Columbian flag in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 26. Airmen throughout the base taught children about Hispanic American Heritage and culture at three different CDCs throughout the month of observance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amber Russell)
Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 744th Communications Group cable maintenance journeyman, teaches children at the local Child Development Center about the Panamanian flag during Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 26 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The event marked the last of three involvement days at each of the CDCs on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Ashleigh Peck)
by 1st Lt. Ashleigh Peck
Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
9/27/2012 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Airmen throughout Joint Base Andrews in Maryland taught children at the local Child Development Center about Hispanic American Heritage and culture Sept. 26.
To go along with this year's Department of Defense theme for the observance month, "Diversity United. Building America's Future Today," Airman First Class Joan Cortez Lorenzo, 844th Comm. Group, knowledge operations technician, coordinated with more than 30 volunteers for events at all three CDCs across the base to keep the children involved in the month's activities.
"It's actually my first time working with kids and I had a lot of fun," said Cortez Lorenzo. "With continued support from the CDC coordinators and the volunteers, we hope to do this again next year."
The CDC coordinators had positive experiences with base volunteers in the past so they thanked the Airmen for continuing to volunteer.
"We also had volunteers come for Asian Pacific Month and we had a lot of fun," said Bonnie Kelberer, training and curriculum specialist for CDC II. "Since we are a multi-cultural military, it's great for the kids to learn about all of the different cultures."
During the hour-long sessions, the volunteers taught the children some Spanish words to include colors and numbers. They also read and sang to the children in English and Spanish and organized a craft to help the children learn what some of the Hispanic flags look like.
"In our classroom, we showed the children what a Panamanian flag looks like, explained its history and used construction paper to help them make their own Panamanian flag," said Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 744th Comm. Group cable maintenance journeyman. "As we explained the history, we told them how the colors represent the two political parties in Panama and the white represents the peace that brings them all together."
National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture. The month-long celebration begins Sept. 15 and continues through Oct. 15. The dates were chosen in honor of five Central American countries which celebrate their independence in September.
Airman First Class Sabrina Huerta, 779th Medical Wing laboratory technician, helped out with all three events at the CDCs and said she was impressed to see how eager the children were to learn the Spanish language.
"One of the little girls was trying to read the book we brought and the volunteer was going through all of the Spanish words with her," said Huerta. "It's really interesting to see how motivated they are to learn another language."
Walker also talked about how the children impressed him.
"They're very smart and they always have ideas; it may not mean much to some people but their ideas are pretty fascinating," said Walker.
The influence of the Hispanic culture is reflected not only in the arts and music of the United States, but Hispanic Americans also serve as leaders in government, business and the military. Hispanics make up 11 percent of the active duty military and nearly 17 percent of new recruits, according to a DOD study. From the Civil War to now, 44 Hispanics have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
The JBA Hispanic Heritage Month Committee will have a finale event on Oct. 12 at The Club at Andrews from 5-9 p.m. with free food, entertainment and prizes.