Gabriela Cordova-Rodriguez gives an inside look on her Hispanic culture

Charlee Doyle

In an interview with Senior Class Council President, Gabriela Cordova-Rodriguez, I asked her all about her Hispanic heritage. She is part Mexican on her father’s side and part Dominican on her mother’s side. She specifically educated me on aspects of her intertwined Dominican and Mexican culture that she loves and, in an effort to educate others, I am sharing what I learned from her. 

Cordova’s mother is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and her father is from Veracruz, Mexico. Cordova has visited the Dominican Republic herself many times, with her last trip being over the summer. She describes the Dominican Republic as a paradise. 

“It was very nice…very beautiful. I always tell people D.R. is such a beautiful island. The people there are very nice and helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Cordova said.

She had not been to Mexico recently, but when she went in the fourth grade she immediately recognized the huge differences between where her father grew up and where she lives in Indiana.

“The difference I have noticed about my culture and American is the way households are, the items we have or know and the payment here in America is different, especially the cost,” Cordova said.

She points out how important customs are in Spanish speaking nations for anyone who wants to visit.

When visiting any Spanish speaking country…be kind, have fun, explore and be careful. Also clean after yourself, have an open mind, be very patient and enjoy the environment. Most importantly, be respectful and don’t be afraid to engage and have a good time,” Cordova said.

She also shared advice for those specifically visiting the Dominican Republic and speaking to the locals or visiting family there.

“Make sure to always say hi, introduce yourself, shake hands, give a hug, or give a kiss on the cheek. Don’t be scared if they do that when you first say hi. It’s okay if you go for a hug only if you feel comfortable, they won’t judge. Make sure to say bye when you leave. Don’t be disrespectful to the island or any place,” Cordova said.

She also recalls very unique aspects of the Dominican Republic that she enjoyed during her time with family there.

“During the Dominican Republic carnival, there are people dressed up in colorful clothing with kind of scary masks that just dance around,” Cordova said. 

In both nations, she points out how the food, language, music and dance are all very different. However, she discusses the similarities in holidays celebrated. 

Food is a big part of Cordova’s culture and she hopes to pass down recipes and traditions to future generations in her family. She considers her place in Dominican culture as someone who should pass it down and educate family members and others about it. 

“My favorite foods from my culture are mangu, sancocho, yaroa, plantains, bandera and empanadas,” Cordova said.

She specifically loves habichuela con dulce, or sweet beans, a traditional dessert her family makes often.

Music, dance and language also play a major role in what makes her culture unique. 

“I love bachata, merengue, dembow cumbia, huapango and reggaeton when it comes to music,” Cordova said.

“In Mexico there are many different types of dances like folk dancing that are beautiful and entertaining to watch,” Cordova said. 

Her family plays music and dance at every family event including quinces, birthdays and holidays. She plans to pass down the tradition of music as well while also expressing the importance of learning Spanish. Learning the language is the best way to become familiar with the culture and grow closer to family or those affiliated with Hispanic culture. 

Holidays are an exciting time for Cordova’s family as she and her family celebrate Christmas, Halloween, New Years, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and Dominican Independence Day. She loves being able to celebrate holidays incorporating both her Dominican and Mexican side. 

“My favorite memory growing up is just getting to experience the two different cultures. [During Christmas] we will stay up the day before and wait until 12 am to open gifts,” Cordova said.

During the holidays and when spending time with family her favorite games to play are bingo or loteria and domino. 

Cordova shares her final thoughts on her culture and the beauty of it.

“I would describe my culture as beautiful. The people in both of my parents’ cultures are hard-working people, very nice, positive and smart,” Cordova said.