Eighth graders visit vineyard worker camps
For the second year in a row, eighth graders from the Presentation School visited the migrant worker camps run by La Luz for a short field trip about the migrant experience. The students prepared questions in advance (in Spanish) and came away moved and changed by their conversations with the workers.
The eight blue tem
porary trailers that La Luz provides every harvest season are on West Agua Caliente Road, at St. Leo’s Catholic Church. The 32 young men who stay there pick grapes during the early hours of the morning. La Luz provides breakfast and lunch and some dinners for the men, as well as English classes, lectures on health issues, and basic medical and dental care. Operational expenses for the camps are covered by La Luz and from a grant from the Vadasz Family Foundation.
Following are excerpts from student essays about the visit:
Jack Greenberg: “Our class’s recent visit to the migrant worker camp was an amazing experience … For weeks prior to the trip we studied questions and responses in Spanish to get ready. We read a chapter from ‘The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child’ by Francisco Jimenez to get a feel for the migrant worker life. Then we read about César Chavez, a great man who did great things for workers and immigrants alike.
Once we got there, we were taken on a tour of the camps ... I interviewed a man name named Nico who didn’t speak English but was trying to learn at classes at the camp. I learned that he enjoys the work, even though it is very difficult, because he gets to send money back to his family in Oaxaca. I was amazed that he wakes up at 1 a.m. and is ready at 1:30 a.m. to start.”
Kirsten Couchman: “While we practice Spanish in our classroom, we always have the option of speaking English. However, at the migrant worker camp, the only language we could use was Spanish, because if we used English, they wouldn’t be able to respond to our questions. Our Spanish teacher really wanted us to have this experience of being put in that
somewhat awkward position ... The experience was humbling and was an amazing opportunity for which we all are grateful.”
Cristian Isbrandtsen: “Before our visit, I had never really had a real conversation with a Hispanic person before. My expectation for the day and how it turned out were really very different. I was shocked by the workers’ trailers and bathrooms. While I guess these are better accommodations than they have had here in the past, the rooms were small, tight and it made me want to help out in any way possible. It made us all realize that we are really lucky and should be more appreciative of our lives and what we have.”