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Hoping to keep Spanish vibrant, Hartford organization announces high school essay contest

Explanation of word communication / comunicación.
The CCID is inviting Hartford's ninth to 12th grade students to submit three-page essays written in Spanish by April 30. The essay requires participants to explore the relationship between identity and language and the top two entries will be awarded scholarship prizes.

The Connecticut Institute for Community Development (CICD) — Puerto Rican Hartford Parade is hosting a Spanish-writing contest for all greater Hartford area high school students.

Ivonne Olmo, a board member of the CICD Puerto Rican Hartford Parade, emphasized the emotional significance of the contest. She said language is a vital aspect of Latino and Puerto Rican identity.

“When you know who you are, nobody can tell you who you are,” Olmo said. “So it's very important that children get connected with the roots, with their history. I know that we live in the United States we should know English, but always is important to know Spanish.”

The Spanish language is a key aspect in maintaining the cultural heritage of many communities, particularly those with Hispanic and Latino roots, organizers said.

Connecticut’s second largest community is Hispanic, comprising 18% of residents in the state. Spanish is a global language spoken by millions and research has shown that bilinguals can have improved memory, multitasking skills and problem-solving abilities.

“Being a bilingual person gives you a key to a lot of success so for us, it's important to promote the learning and the practice of Spanish,” Olmo said.

The essay contest is for ninth to 12th grade students in the greater Hartford area. The essay requires participants to explore the relationship between identity and language in a three-page essay written in Spanish. Submissions are due by April 30. The top two entries will be awarded scholarship prizes.

Samuel Vega, president of the CICD Puerto Rican Parade in Hartford, emphasized the importance of preserving Puerto Rican culture in Connecticut and promoting educational opportunities for young Latinos.

“You don't have to be Puerto Rican to qualify for the scholarship, it's for everyone, as long as you write the essay in Spanish you will qualify for this scholarship,” Vega said. “But you should always recognize where you came from, or your grandparents came from.”

Learning and using Spanish allows people to communicate with a diverse range of people, fostering connections and understanding across cultures, Olmo said.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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