Celebrating Our Heritage

Original Airdate: 
May 2019

Passed down from generation to generation, heritage is something that not only tells us where we came from, but informs who we are today. In this episode, we’ll meet the people of Utah’s historic Spring City, experience the different cultures of Latin America with Ballet Folklórico, and learn about the role of Chinese rail workers whose labor helped build the transcontinental railroad.

Originally founded in 1852, Spring City is one of only two towns in the United States that has been recognized as a National Historic District on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. No matter where you go in Spring City, you’ll find living remnants of the past — from the oolite limestone homes to the Victorian-style public school house. We’ll meet some of the current residents of this picturesque small town, and hear how the rich history of the place can be felt in their lives today.

People connect with their heritage in different ways. For the members of Ballet Folklórico de las Américas, they connect with the cultures and traditions of their families through dance. Ballet Folklórico has brought the traditional folk dances of México, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, and other Latin American nations to Utah audiences since 1979. For Artistic Director Irma Hofer, her work at Ballet Folklórico is not only a way to teach new generations about Latin American dance — it’s also a way for her to remember her father, a lifelong Mariachi musician.

In the iconic photograph of the event, the Golden Spike ceremony depicts a gathering of railway owners and workers celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad. But one group is notably absent from the famous image — the Chinese railroad workers whose labor sped the project toward its completion. Margaret Yee is the great-granddaughter of one such railroad worker, and the chairperson of Descendants of Chinese Railroad Workers, a group that is working to make sure the contributions of Chinese Americans to the railroad effort are not forgotten. Margaret’s great-grandfather built the railroad as a bridge between Americans and Chinese, and 150 years later, Margaret is carrying on the legacy.

Visit the This Is Utah page to learn more about the series and upcoming episodes.

26 minutes
Closed Caption: 
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