As Johns Manville marks National Hispanic Heritage Month, Jay Rogers, Production Superintendent for the Johns Manville Tucson, Arizona Alloy Shop and Maintenance Department, shares how he and his wife work to educate their daughters and celebrate their Hispanic heritage and culture.
Q: Tell us about what you love about the Hispanic culture.
A: Although I am an Arizona native, I am not of Hispanic decent but have been exposed to the culture my entire life. It is a culture that I enjoy greatly, especially the closeness to family, celebrations and food.
Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico (or Rocky Point as most Americans call it) has been a vacation spot for many Arizonans as it is the closest beach that we have, being only about four hours from Tucson. I have been going there with friends and family since I was a kid and I want to think that ultimately it was my fondness for the culture that led me to my wife, Lennia.
She was born in the northern part of Sonora, Mexico and all of her large extended family still resides throughout this region. She is very proud of her Hispanic heritage and strives every day to instill this same pride in our three daughters. I only thought I knew the Hispanic culture before I met her. Over the past 11 years my spectrum has been broadened beyond my wildest dreams, whether it’s been through one of the many weddings, quinceañeras, musical concerts, local festivals and or simply just hanging out with our many Hispanic friends and family.
Q: How are you and your wife working to educate your daughters about their special heritage?
A: Currently my twin daughters, Camilla and Sophia, are first-graders at Davis Bilingual Elementary School here in Tucson, where they are enrolled in a dual-language immersion program. The goal is that if they continue this program, they will graduate high school with a Certificate of Biliteracy and be fully proficient in Spanish. Learning the Spanish language is only a portion of the benefits from this program, as it also is rich in teaching them the Hispanic culture and heritage.
The school is regarded for its many extracurricular activities for which the kids can participate. They can be involved in mariachi band, guitar, violin and folkloric all of which only enrichen their immersion in the Hispanic culture. They have an amazing teacher this year who strives to also teach them at every turn, the Hispanic culture whether it is cooking Hispanic foods in the classroom or working in the school garden to grow traditional Hispanic plants. They celebrate not only the U.S. holidays but also the Mexican holidays.
I couldn’t be happier with the education that my daughters are receiving from both the school and my wife. It always makes me smile when I hear my little American daughters ramble off something in Spanish like it was their first language or tell me about the meaning of Día De Los Muertos.
On a trip to Mexico early in the summer, it was amazing to watch all my daughters interact with their cousins and family. It was during this trip we had a Piñata (Birthday Party) to celebrate my daughter Jaylani’s third birthday. It was a very traditional party with carne asada, pastel, dulces and most importantly, lots of family. It is great to live in Tucson, which is a city so rich with the Hispanic culture and we feel lucky every day to be able to expose our children to those traditions, so they don’t forget where they came from.
From September 15 to October 15, JM recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrates the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American's across the U.S. and our company.