SMITHS STATION, Ga. (WRBL) — In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Fort Moore’s WHINSEC program instructors and students visited a local high school. The WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) constituents visited Smiths Station High School on the morning of Oct. 13 to support its Spanish department’s Hispanic Heritage month celebration by presenting students with information about Spanish-speaking WHINSEC countries.

“We decided to ask WHINSEC to see if they can come and introduce Spanish-speaking countries to our students so they can have a little bit more information about other countries as well as having a bigger world view,” said Smiths Station High School Spanish teacher Zahily Vasquez.

She explained the school’s Spanish teachers represent Mexican, Dominican and Puerto Rican heritages but they wanted to provide students with first-person interactions with representatives of other Spanish-speaking countries. This way, students can have a more complete perspective of Spanish-speaking cultures and what each country has to offer, Vasquez said.

According to WHINSEC representative Milton Mariani Rodríguez, this year’s cohort of 56 hails from the United States and eight other Spanish-speaking nations, including Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru.  They represent the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marine Corps, in addition to the militaries and law enforcement of their home countries.

Army Chaplain Maj. José Rondon works closely with WHINSEC and attended the event with a cohort of 10 international WHINSEC students. The group gave a bilingual Power Point presentation with information about each of their countries shared with students in both English and Spanish.

Rondon explained the group aimed to show Smiths Station students “impressions of each and every country within our great alliance.” Over 100 students and members of the Spanish department were in attendance for the presentation.

Rondon said, “We love it because the students are learning a lot, and all from WHINSEC.”

The WHINSEC program at Fort Moore aims to teach students how to lead effectively with cultural and ethical understanding. It is taught entirely in Spanish to allow non-English speakers the opportunity to take the course, which also has an English counterpart taught at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. 

Hispanic Heritage Month occurs annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.