By Belle Vang, COSS Communications Student Assistant

Dr. Everett Vieira, Political Science Assistant Professor, highlights the incredible importance of National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) through his study of Latin American politics.  A misconception Dr. Vieira addresses his insight in Latinx cultures is the immense diversity of Hispanic heritage.  

“We’re not just one monolithic culture, but a tapestry of different foods, songs, religions, indigenous populations, and beliefs.  I’m Chicano, but even that identity means different things to different people.”

Vieira compares the differences of his family’s roots and traditions from México City and Puebla to his friends whose roots are from Chihuahua and Sinaloa. 

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Dr. Vieira, his sister, and his “abuelito” celebrating “Noche buena”

He spent five years conducting fieldwork in Peru and admits his constant fascination with the diversity that exists in Latin America and the lack of conversation about its diversity.  Not only is Latin America culturally different, their regions are also divergent with “Limeños” on the coast, the “Serranos” in the Andes, and various cultures in the jungle.

“To paint Peru as the Latin American state that houses Machu Picchu is like saying everyone south of the U.S. border is Mexican.  Latinx culture is by united warmth and languages, and our diversity is what makes the sum of our parts so rich and vibrant.”

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Dr. Vieira finding the “baby” during Rosca de Reyes

Diversity is also relayed in Vieira’s large family.  He says his family is so big, he only gets to see his entire family together during their annual “Rosca de Reyes” celebration on January 6th where he eats his favorite sweet (pan dulce) with “chocolate de abuelita.” The taste brings back memories of sitting around the dinner table with his grandparents and celebrating religious holidays with his family.

He also shared the struggles his family underwent to immigrate to the U.S.. From forfeiting everything they owned and not speaking English.  As the first generation to be born and raised in the U.S., Vieira acknowledges the privilege of being able to reap the rewards for those sacrifices such as being the first (but not the last!) in his family to attend and graduate from a university. 

Appreciative of the opportunities in the U.S., Vieira is very proud of his dual citizenship and Mexican passport. He continues to pave a pathway for students to share their passion for diversity in Latin America.

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Dr. Vieira conducting research in Uchuruccay, Peru providing English lessons for the children