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Welcoming Remarks, NTSB Hispanic Heritage Month Program, Washington, DC
T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH
Washington, DC

​Welcome to the National Transportation Safety Board’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.  On behalf of our Chairman, the Honorable Christopher Hart, my other fellow board members and the entire NTSB, I am pleased to have the opportunity to welcome you here to the NTSB Conference Center today.

!Bienvenidos a todos!

Our country observes National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 every year.  During that time, we celebrate the cultures and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.

Our theme this year is “Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity.”

Hispanic Americans have played a key role in our country’s proud heritage and the building of our nation. It is fitting that we take the time to deepen our appreciation for this important and vibrant culture.

Our nation’s diversity has always been one of our strongest assets. And the Hispanic American community is a valuable component of our multi-cultural society.

For me, as perhaps for many of you, the Hispanic American community has been an important part of my life since childhood.

I remember dancing at Cinco de Mayo celebrations in elementary school and celebrating the quinceañera of a friend in high school in Texas. As a newly arrived immigrant myself at that time – albeit from a different part of the world – I remember being impressed that my new country welcomed and celebrated our many diverse heritages.

As a college and graduate student, I spent time in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Paraguay.  And today, my husband and I are raising our young son in a multilingual household and often speak and read together in Spanish.

These diverse cultural influences have made my own life richer and I am confident that they have also made our country stronger by helping us understand each other better.

We have a terrific program today – including an excellent keynote speaker from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Thank you to everyone whose efforts made today possible. I hope you enjoy the program.