In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, students, faculty and administrators at Lynbrook North Middle School welcomed Latina filmmaker Denise Soler Cox on Oct. 20 to present her documentary, “Being ñ” and speak to seventh and eighth graders about diversity, acceptance and self-love.
Students gathered in the gymnasium to watch the film which Cox created with producer Henry Ansbacher. The film documented Cox’s own personal experiences, along with the experiences of others, growing up as Enyes or first generation American-born Latinos with at least one parent from a Spanish speaking country. Throughout the film, students learned about how it feels to be different and the search for acceptance.
After the screening, students were encouraged to ask questions and share their thoughts. Many came forward and spoke about their own personal experiences and how they could relate to the film.
The topic of bullying was prominent as Cox shared her past situations with bullies in school and a conversation took place about the importance of being an upstander and being kind to others. Students expressed how their peers played a significant role in making them feel accepted. Principal Sean Fallon showed his support by adding to the discussion and encouraging anyone who is being bullied to speak up so the situation can be handled properly.
“It sounds like there is a lot of love in this school and support in this school,” said Cox. “I really want to challenge you to be the great people that I know all of you are.”
In addition, English as a New Language teacher Evelyn Daza, who helped bring the assembly to the school, spoke about her own experiences of living on Long Island and being an Enye. Through her personal story, students learned about stereotyping and how Cox’s story made her feel like she was not alone.
At the conclusion of the assembly, students were left to reflect on the feeling of belonging.
“We must first and always belong to ourselves,” said Cox.