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About sharing The floor of the community centre in Springdale, Arkansas, shakes to a staccato rhythm as the young Latino dancers practise their steps. The young girls slip long dresses of fuchsia and aquamarine over T-shirts and shorts, swishing and swirling them in time to the beat.

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The teenage boys, solemn in concentration, in, stepping and stamping, hands clasped behind their backs. They are clearly having fun, but they and their parents are clear this is not just about keeping them amused.

It is about nourishing their Mexican roots, making sure their culture doesn't shrivel and die in this corner of the Deep South. I have come to Springdale because it is a harbinger of America's slringdale.

Predictions suggest that bythis is what the US will look like. Changing attitudes? Right now, one in four Americans under 18 is Hispanic - that is, Spanish speakers with roots in Latin America.

A lot has been written about the political impact of the growing Latino population, but I am interested in how it could change the culture, indeed the very nature, of the United States itself. Large swathes of the South-west were still part of Mexico until the midth Century - just a heartbeat ago in historical terms. As one young woman in Texas told me recently: "People ask when my relatives came across the border.

One of the dancers, Myra Rivas, suggests the growing Latino population defines one vision of what America should be.

The US provides opportunities to every single culture there is and that's what makes America different. And our good looks! While some Hispanics are wary of this stereotype, it is what many Americans think.

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It's true that tacos are as American as curry is British. But perhaps Latinos add more than just a little spice to American life. The airy church is framed by two large modern springvale windows. Father John Connell is saying Mass in Spanish. It is one of three mid-week Masses in the language, which he learnt five years ago. After the service he tells me the increase in the Latino population has made a big difference, especially in his diocese, which covers the whole state.

Without them the church would have been stagnant in s. So what's the impact?

A huge explosion of Latino babies in the years ahead. He's wary of that conclusion.

Changing attitudes?

Will it change? I don't know. That's the history of any immigrants to this country. But this might be different for Latinos, for a couple of reasons.

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First of all, the Spanish language is already ubiquitous in the United States, and there are areas of the country where you need speak no English. There are the big TV networks for a Spanish-speaking audience, Telemundo and Univision, as well as many newspapers and radio stations. Some schools are bilingual and those irritating automatic telephone options nearly always ask you to press one for English, two springdaale Spanish.

All of this is constantly reinforced by new waves of Spanish-speaking immigrants who may have little English.

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They are learning English through American history. No it's an 'it'! She says it is important her pupils learn English. I don't want my students to think they have to work in a factory. Perhaps becoming American no longer requires subscribing to a narrow vision of what that means. We talk to the kids here and they have an identity and they need not try to become someone else. The country is changing, it is becoming what it is, because of who they are.


Rick Schaeffer, communications director of Springdale public schools, says this corner of Arkansas is definitely a taste of what is around the corner for the country. And while some around here wouldn't agree, he thinks it is positive.

You don't see divorce. You sure don't see abortion.


They are hard workers. They are industrious.

But I came away with a strong sense of one vision of America - that it is a sprindgale still in motion, and that the more it mirrors the world, rather than reflects a European identity that others have to squeeze into, the stronger it is.