HTI Giving Day: Making an #HTIimpact
HTI has supported 115 Latinx graduates. 97% of HTI students earn their graduate degrees in an average of 5.5 years. We have worked en conjunto with scholars, mentors, presidents, and deans to usher in vibrant Latinx scholars in religion. HTI supports seeing our community represented in the academy and the church. We are proud of all they have accomplished and we look forward to supporting even more students as they work to make an impact on theological education.
Read Dr. Ann Hidalgo’s story about the significance of Latinx representation, and help us make an even bigger #HTIimpact this year.
Breathing with Both Lungs
“Say something in Spanish.” They were the words I hated most. As a kindergartner walking to school in a gaggle of kids, I cringed as my next-door neighbor and best friend announced to the group that my family spoke Spanish. In suburban Cleveland, Ohio, this was unheard of – at least to my elementary schoolmates. “Say something in Spanish,” they demanded. What were my options? I could trot out my best Sesame Street voice and count to five, but that would only meet with “No, no, talk a lot – talk fast.” I could take the sarcastic route and reply “algo” – literally “something.” Either way, this wouldn’t end well.
Growing up in a Cuban-American family in suburban Cleveland, my family’s history, language, and culture were completely invisible in our wider community. I lived in an English-only world, and both my educational experiences and my own developing skills for interacting with the world reflected that reality. Through high school and college, I did not study with a single Latinx teacher or professor, and although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, that loss was profound. I internalized the message that professionalism required hiding my family heritage in order to fit into the dominant culture.
The summer before I began my doctoral studies, I attended the HTI Summer Workshop and met an amazing—and amazingly diverse—group of students, professors, mentors, and staff. Their brilliance, dedication, and unfailingly welcoming spirit was and remains a source of joy and inspiration. Experiencing the passion that members of the HTI community bring to the project of developing Latinx teachers and leaders helped me understand what I had missed as a child, adolescent, and young adult. While my journey through my doctoral studies and into my career in higher education has certainly been one of intellectual and professional development, it has also been a time of profound personal change. Through my studies and work, I have had the opportunity to reintegrate a long-neglected aspect of my identity. Research travel in Central America and the Caribbean brought the culture, heritage, and language that I had carefully hidden for years to the center of my work. A research visit to Cuba even allowed me to meet members of my family for the first time. It is as if—for the first time since I started my formal education in kindergarten—I am breathing with both lungs. The HTI community has been at the center of that transformation. I am so grateful for my HTI friends, and I am so proud of their many accomplishments.
Please join me in supporting HTI’s ongoing efforts to support the Latinx teachers and leaders of tomorrow.
On a research visit to Cuba Dr. Ann Hidalgo (right) met members of her family, like her Tia Sara (left), for the first time