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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

The Latino/a Experience in the United States: The Literary Truth of the 21st Century : By Manuel Hernandez

When students make a connection to literature, they stay awake (intelectually and mentally). When a Latino teen (born and raised in the United States of Latino parents or recently arrived from Latin America) reads a story, poem, drama or novel that is far away from the student's personal, social and cultural background, the opposite occurs. The greatest secret of success is to come to understand identity, and how it intertwines with everyday living, reality and existence. The Latino/a experience in the United States is a literary truth that helps students have a close encounter with literature because their day to day experiences are reflected in its texts.

The connection to literature is dumbfounded when Latino teens are isolated in classrooms and are separated from the mainstream (current classroom practice in many schools across America). Just like Latino teens, the Latino/a experience in letters is inseparable from the mainstream because it depicts the everyday living, reality and existence of the American Latino teen. By looking into a mirror (Latino/a literature), students are confronted with authentic reading and real-life symbols that help them make a connection to literature. As a consequence, interest and motivation develop into greater heights: academic results.

Once the connection is established, students are encouraged and motivated to read rather than to find themselves thrust into a text that is distant from their culture and literary heritage. Instead of spending funds on assigning tutors and teachers' aides for the recently arrived Latino teen, spend America's money wisely and train teachers to teach Latino/a literature as a bridge to reading comprehension, literary appreciation and written communication skills. But how can students connect to a literature that was intended for a different audience, staged in a diverse setting and written by authors with another literary mentality? The answer speaks for itself.

Once upon a time, the Bilingual Act of 1968 was enacted and the academic rights of the great wave of Latino immigrants that moved into U.S. cities right after World War II were tended to, but this is a different time, and we live in the 21st century. But the Latino wave threatens once more to surpass all sociological expectations in the up and coming U.S. Census in 2010. Og Mandino states that "When the lion is hungry, he eats. When the eagle has thirst, he drinks. Lest they act, both will perish" ( The Greatest Salesman in The World, p.99). American education cannot dwell on its past successes. While American education gets hungry, the dropout rate of the Latino teen augments each year. Today, Latino/a authors have developed a literary voice of their own and are being anthologized like never before. Themes include education, identity, varied approaches to race, self-esteem, peer-pressure, family, domestic violence, mother-son-daughter; father-son-daughter relationships, just to mention a few. In one of Arthur Schopenhauer's memorable quote he says, "All truth passes three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."