HispanicHeritagekeynotespeakerRed Bank Regional Multinational Club’s Jorge Benavides (left) with RBR Principal Risa Clay, club member Vandeka Rodgers, RBR alumnus/ keynote speaker Andres Perez and club member Fabiana Villegas.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

On October 21, Red Bank Regional High School, a richly diverse high school, celebrated its students’ Hispanic roots at an assembly in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.

RBR Senior Jorge Benavides opened the program, developed by the school’s Multinational Club with co-advisors Karina Tedeschi and Odilia Lligui, with a speech he wrote and delivered in Spanish. RBR Principal Risa Clay translated it in English for the student body.

Jorge told his fellow students, “We are proud of our accomplishments, our roots and our values. Family comes first and so does sharing. Despite many hardships, our people thrive through hard work and happiness.”

He explained how Hispanic culture has contributed to the sciences, arts (including music, dance, literature and cinematography) and sports. Together with fellow Multicultural Club members Fabiana Villegas and Jasmine Graham, Jorge narrated a special program on fútbol, and also payed tribute to the famously boisterous and colorful Hispanic soccer fans.

The RBR Visual and Performing Arts majors offered a taste of the rich Hispanic culture in musical performances. The Choir sang the famous El Bito and Mata Del Anima Sola. The Strings Ensemble performed Aliyah. The RBR Creative Writing Majors Emily Lugos and Mya Nunnally also performed an original spoken poetry piece in the spirit of the rainbow mosaic that is America.

RBR 2009 graduate Andres Perez was the event’s keynote speaker.  His story is one that many Hispanic RBR students strive to emulate. Andres came to America with his mother from Columbia when he was 14 years old, and entered the RBR English Language Learner program.  He worked very and earned the coveted Andrew Kroon Memorial scholarship enabling him to attend Brookdale College. He supported himself by working full-time.  Upon his graduation, he was admitted to Rutgers University’s challenging business school program and immersed himself in college life.  He worked part-time for the Office of Student Life, and joined a fraternity where he held the positions of Community Service Coordinator and Historian.  He was a member of the university’s Marketing and Management Club. He graduated in 2013, and Andres is currently employed for the UCEDA Institute in Red Bank, where he teaches English to adults and also works as an International Marketing Supervisor for an affiliate company, UCEDA International.

Andres spoke about what it meant to him to be Latino.

He stated, “It is not easy. It means you are just a human being, and should not be segregated by the color of your skin or the language you speak.  It means you have a culture and are hard-working. We came here to learn and to succeed.”

For one portion of the program, RBR teachers were interviewed on film to discuss the Nobel-prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s quote, “It is not that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

“In the end we are all humans,” said Jorge Benavides in his original presentation. “We are living beings. We are all children of the sun. As the Inca would say, Viva la vida que el sol sale para todos.”