Hispanic Heritage Month: 39th ABW and U.S Consulate Adana celebrate diversity

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Madi Sylvester
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Incirlik Air Base’s Hispanic Heritage Committee and the U.S Consulate Adana shared American diversity and cultures with members of the local Turkish community at an event earlier this month.

The gathering consisted of multiple traditional games such as Loteria, or “Mexican Bingo,” and a demonstration of the breaking of a pinata. The committee included explanations and the historical significance within their cultures of each event.

“This event was so great because I love being able to share some new games and traditions with people who are from another culture and background,” said Master Sgt. Karina Reyes, Vice President of the 39th Air Base Wings’ Hispanic Heritage Committee. “Being able to explain how these traditions started allows them to see that a lot of cultures are similar and that there are fun new things everyone can learn.”

Members of the Adana Consulate and the 39th ABW work closely together to connect the bond between the local Turkish community and the base. The event strengthened that bond by giving Airmen and the U.S. Consulate members an opportunity to share the special things we carry with us no matter where we go: our stories.

“In the countries where I’ve served as a diplomat, there have not been many other Hispanic or Latino/a Americans representing the United States,” said Erica Marrero, U.S. Consulate Adana public affairs officer and event coordinator. “When I’m overseas, I am far away from mi gente (my people). Hispanic Heritage month reminds me that I carry with me the dreams and accomplishments of all those who came before me.”

The inspiration behind these demonstrations is diversity and connection. For many of the Turkish guests, it was their first opportunity to meet Hispanic Americans and to be introduced to their culture.

“I am a first generation Mexican-American. I am very proud of my background and want to make sure I don’t lose sight of the heritage that my parents come from,” Reyes said. “Growing up and seeing this, has always inspired me to be proud and to want to showcase Hispanic culture, especially while in an overseas location.”

By introducing these things, it solidifies the people-to-people ties that are vital in fortifying the 39th ABW’s mission of defending NATO’s southern flank.

The recognition and celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as a week-long event. It was later extended to cover a 30-day period with the signing of the National Hispanic Heritage Month bill in 1988, noting it to be celebrated between September 15 and October 15. The significance of having this month-long recognition extended across two months is significant because seven Latin American countries celebrate their independence days during this time.