Russell students learn true meaning of Cinco de Mayo


RUSSELL Russell High School Spanish students celebrated Cinco de Mayo by learning the true meaning of the day.

“A lot of people think that Cinco de Mayo, of course, is Mexican Independence Day and it is not,” said foreign language teacher Jennifer Brown on Friday.

She explained Cinco de Mayo marks the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, adding that the day is nowhere near as big of a deal in Mexico as it is in the United States, referring to it as “more of a bank holiday.”

Brown’s students observed the day by learning about Mexican culture. They crafted flowers made out of tissue paper — something she said many people do not often do in celebration, explaining Americans often think the day is more about wearing Mexican hats and fake mustaches.

She added Mexican culture is colorful and that the flowers are often used for decoration.

Brown noted she is an advocate of having her students learn about the culture along with the language.

“If they don’t understand what’s going on around them culturally, it’s not going to help them grow in their ability to function in a language, function with the people and be understanding with them,” she said. “That’s why I feel why culture is incredibly important with the language. It’s not just learning verb tenses and how to put sentences together.”

Across the hall, in Catherine Del Valle’s room, Spanish students munched on Mexican foods while watching movies featuring Mexican history. Del Valle, a world language teacher, said she asked students to make the dishes to bring in that included tortillas, quesadillas and guacamole.

She also instilled in her students about the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo, saying if anyone were to ask them if the day was Mexico’s Independence Day, they would be able to say it is, in fact, not since Independence Day is on Sept. 16.

Her class was also given a heavy dose of true Mexican culture, saying they have watched videos leading up to Cinco de Mayo focused on misconceptions about Hispanics.

She too pointed out Cinco de Mayo is not about wearing mustaches and Mexican hats.

“That’s considered insulting to a culture,” she said, referring to the importance of students learning the facts.

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