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Global Education, International Teachers

Cultural Stories: Yasmin Herrera

Today is the last day of the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Though Hispanic Heritage Month is only officially recognized from September 15 to October 15, we strive to celebrate the heritage and culture of our Hispanic ambassadors every day as they work tirelessly to open the world to their students and develop empathetic, compassionate global citizens. We are grateful for your continued commitment to the next generation of thought leaders and changemakers.

During the past month, we have highlighted some of our amazing ambassadors and learned more about the cultural backgrounds, experiences, and unique perspectives they bring into their classrooms. This week, we highlight ambassador teacher Yasmin Herrera, who is originally from San Salvador, El Salvador. She is currently working as a K-5 Spanish teacher at Durant Road Elementary in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read on to learn more about Yasmin.

What do you like to do when you have a day off from work?

I like exploring new places around North Carolina. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to do it as much as I would like, so instead, I have been able to dedicate this time to myself by relaxing at home, taking long baths, and learning new hobbies.

When did you start learning a second language, and what kept you motivated to learn?

When I was in middle school, my favorite subject was English. I enjoyed exploring a new language a lot. What motivated me the most to continue learning was being able to understand and sing along with my favorite English songs.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about your home country?

I’d like people to know that although El Salvador is small, it has a lot to offer to those seeking adventure and nature. There is access to beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, and archeological sites—all within close driving distance!

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?

I would love to go on a tour of Europe with a close friend. The countries I’m most interested in visiting are France and Italy.

What’s your favorite holiday in your country, and how do you celebrate it?

My favorite holiday in El Salvador is Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 15. I love it because I really enjoy watching the colorful parades where you can see marching bands, dances, shows, etc. It is so fun to go out and see these spectacular shows. All of the performers spend many months preparing to make the celebration extra special.

What are some ways you teach students in your class about your culture?

I like to show my students pictures related to El Salvador and ask them what they think they represent. It provokes their curiosity while they learn important facts from my country. Also, when a Salvadorian holiday comes, I take the opportunity to share with them relevant information about that celebration as well as how we celebrate it. We do a short activity like a craft to make it more interesting and promote hands-on learning.

How have you celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom?

I have shared information about important Hispanic leaders and how they’ve helped or contributed to make the world better. I also talk about the importance of Hispanic culture by locating on a map Spanish names of states or cities in the United States. This helps the students see the historical impact and the current relevance of Hispanic culture in the U.S.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I love children and the opportunity to help mold and prepare them for the future.

How has being a cultural exchange ambassador changed the way you teach?

Before I became a cultural exchange teacher, I used to only focus my teaching on developing language skills. Now, I incorporate culture along with the language, which makes it more interesting and engaging for my students.

Why do you think global education is important in today’s society?

I think it is important that children are well-rounded in global education because they learn to embrace people of different races, cultures, and traditions, as well as learn the values of respect and tolerance.

If you had one piece of advice for a new teacher, what would it be?

Never stop learning! This career comes with many challenges, but with a positive and understanding attitude, you will be able to overcome them and make a difference in the lives of students.

Thanks to ambassadors like Yasmin, students have the resources, knowledge, and perspectives needed to be active global citizens in their local communities and make a positive impact on the world around them. For more information on how you can be an ambassador of your culture and change students’ lives for the better too, check out our webpage.