Untold Stories: Hermanas Unidas celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Archer community


Photo credit: Talia Geffen

Hermanas Unidas club members Emily Hernandez (’24), Gizelle Moran (’23) and Jullie Cach (’24) pass out fruit to community members in the courtyard. This booth aimed to honor street vendors who sell assorted fruit and educate the community on what it means to be a street vendor.

The Hermanas Unidas club prefers to use the gender-neutral term “Latine.”

Faculty-run Zumba classes, student performances and delicious Hispanic treats; Archer students celebrated eight countries’ independence during Hispanic and Latine Heritage month from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.

The Hermanas Unidas board organized a presentation and festival to celebrate the history and culture of Latin American countries and bring awareness to Hispanic and Latine figures who have made an impact in their communities.

Hermanas Unidas is a club dedicated to educating the Archer community about Latine cultures and issues that affect their community. This student run club is open to all students and holds affinity spaces for those identifying as Latine or Hispanic. The board is made up of four seniors, one junior and one sophomore who presented to the upper school and middle school Oct. 6 and Oct. 7 to introduce Hispanic and Latine Heritage month. 

“Untold Stories” is the theme Hermanas Unidas created for this year’s month, which highlights Latine leaders whose stories are hidden and ignored. Hermanas Unidas board member Martha Castro said that with the theme, she hopes to tell stories of Latine-owned businesses and everyday Latine workers who are underrepresented. 

“The untold stories are the stories of street vendors you see at the park, the labor workers who march for their right to have a voice, the Latine-owned business on the corner of the street, or even the everyday Latine workers who have their favorite traditions,” Garcia said. “These voices have been systematically silenced throughout history and are not told in the mainstream, so we chose this theme to highlight the voices that are real and true, not stereotyped.”

Hermanas Unidas’ large celebration took place Oct. 18 in the courtyard. The celebration included song performances from Spanish classes, booths that highlighted Latine businesses, soccer juggling, a Zumba Class and educational resources organized by students. Layla Tehranchi (’24) performed “Guantanamera” with her Spanish class during the celebration. 

“It was extremely special to see my sister perform during the celebration. I was able to see her immerse herself into a culture that we were not born into but still enjoy exploring,” Delara Tehranchi said. “I think that is what makes this month so special. We are all able to learn from one another and experience each other’s unique cultures.” 

Senior Sammantha Garibaldi and math teacher Monica Barragan pass out chocolate flan and pan dulce in the courtyard. Garibaldi’s grandmother made the cake, and she said she was excited to share it with the Archer community. (Photo credit: Rose Sarner)

Hermanas Unidas shared a variety of books, podcasts, playlists, businesses and shows with the community, which they can explore to celebrate Latine culture. Castro said she hopes that students can use the information and stories that Hermans Unidas presented throughout the month to ask questions and support one another’s unique experiences. 

“We all have to unite in order to support each other and uplift each other. Not just within the Latino community, but people of color and those a part of different communities,” Castro said. “I think that’s why it is extremely necessary to support each other.”

Castro led the street vendor booth, which emphasized the difficult business of selling street food in Los Angeles and other metropolitan cities. Castro said that although it is legal to be a street vendor in Los Angeles, they are refused permits, abused, go out of business and could get arrested.

“My grandma works as a street vendor, and, in the year 2000, she worked as an ice cream vendor,” Castro said. “A lot of times people called the cops on her because people around her were too loud or claimed to be too loud, and then people would steal my mom’s money because she worked with, her too.”

The Advanced Study Spanish Language and Culture class organized a table at the Hermanas Unidas celebration in the courtyard that highlighted indigenous groups across Spanish speaking countries. Senior Alyssa Ponrartana said she was eager to share the stories of the Yoruba and Kichwa because they are often overlooked in history.  

“I hope that they are able to find unique ideas and use that knowledge elsewhere,” Ponrartana said. “They can even draw connections between various booths. For example, looking into the variety of foods so that individuals are able to pass on the history of these indigenous groups.”

Ponrartana said that by researching indigenous groups and sharing their stores, she hopes Archer students can expand their knowledge. The Hermanas Unidas board aims to continue the discussion around everyone’s unique stories and differences after Hispanic and Latine Heritage month through affinity spaces and culture and community meeting. 

As a board, we want to communicate how we are all so diverse as Latinos, we have different cultures and come from different experiences but, at the same time, we all have to unite in order to support each other and uplift each other,” Castro said. “It is not just about the Latino community but about the greater community around us.”

Eighth grade and junior Spanish classes preformed songs in the courtyard during the celebration. The eighth grade Spanish class sang  “Guantanamera” which, was written by a Cuban freedom activist Jose Marti and signifies the nations pride.