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Cuero woman says Hispanic heritage is about family, education

By BY J.R. ORTEGA - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COM
Oct. 15, 2013 at 5:15 a.m.

Linda M. Garcia won the Advocate's Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest.  Her essay highlighted the importance of education and family. Her father, Santiago Pena, shown with Garcia,  taught her a lot about her Hispanic heritage before his recent death.

Linda M. Garcia won the Advocate's Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest. Her essay highlighted the importance of education and family. Her father, Santiago Pena, shown with Garcia, taught her a lot about her Hispanic heritage before his recent death.

Santiago Pena left a lifelong impact on his family.

Linda M. Garcia, 48, of Cuero, wrote her Hispanic Heritage Month essay at home, chronicling what she felt was important about her heritage - lessons she learned from Pena, her father.

Her essay was voted the best Hispanic essay by Victoria Advocate readers.

Pena, 81, died shortly after she wrote the essay, and now, the essay has an even stronger meaning for Garcia.

"He taught about the importance of working and being an honest person," Garcia said.

Garcia writes in her essay that her father, mother and grandparents taught her the two Fs - family and faith.

"We should also never be ashamed of our background, no matter if we come from a poor or wealthy family," she continued in her essay.

Garcia, an English as a Second Language instructor in Cuero, works with students twice a week at Parkside Family Clinic.

She teaches them the importance of making it in America without having to lose the culture of the Spanish language.

It's how she was taught, and it's how she taught her own children.

"It's important to learn both languages," she said. "A lot of our younger kids are so embarrassed to even learn the language."

The key, Garcia has learned, is education.

Educate people on the culture, from the language to the customs and even the food.

For Garcia, writing the essay was a way for her to remind herself why she should be proud.

"It's just something I just thought of doing," she said. "I thought, 'If I get it, that would be good.' It's wonderful to hear that I did win. It's something that's very close to my heart."

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