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Hispanic Heritage Month: A Look At The Many Cultures

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A variety of Latin American flags on a table

As of this week, the United States is halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month.

The month is the expected 30 days long but runs between two months — from mid-September to mid-October.

Sept. 15 was chosen as its beginning because it is the shared independence day of five Latin American countries —  Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — and Mexico and Chile celebrate their independences in the following week.

Francesco Masala is a Spanish professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. He sat down with Gulf Coast Live earlier this week to talk about the difference in pride Hispanics have while in their countries of origin versus when they arrive in the United States.

The Hispanic experience is very different, depending on whether one is foreign or American-born, and it differs further by country of origin.

Eduardo Villarreal is another Spanish professor at the university and the interim head coach of the FGCU men’s soccer team. He sits down with Gulf Coast Live to talk about some of those differences — and the similarities — within Southwest Florida’s Latino community.

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.