Celebrating National Farmworker Awareness

March 24 to 31 was National Farmworker Awareness Week, where we bring attention towards those out in the fields bringing food to our tables.

Hispanics United at Guilford honored those who are working in the fields this week. The events consisted of petition signings, a vigil, Salsa by the Rocks and a Cesar Chavez banquet.

“We talked about (celebrating) the week … because it was something that we felt was very important (and) that we needed to make students aware of the (situations) that are going on today with migrant farmworkers,” said Co-Vice President of HUG and first-year Gerardo Marcos-Ocampo.

Two petitions circulated on March 24 and 25 in Founders Hall. One was to help Pesticide Action Network send a message to the Environmental Protection Agency to stop farm owners from spraying the farmworkers with pesticide while they are working. The other was to help The Walk Free Team create a larger voice to tell Wendy’s, the last remaining U.S. fast-food restaurant that has not joined the Fair Food Agreement, to sign the agreement and help workers.

The petitions will be up for review on Aug. 8.

On March 26, HUG held a vigil in the Hut and read several stories about former migrant farmworkers.

The vigil began with a short game of Jeopardy, each question asked dealing with NFAW.

One of the first questions was, “How many women get harassed in the fields?” One of the groups said 60 percent when in reality, it is 80 percent.

“Eighty percent is a lot of women,” said first-year Jessica Canar. “It shouldn’t even be happening.”

Eventually, the group realized Jeopardy was used because farmworkers’ lives and health are in constant jeopardy.

After the game, HUG presented the group with two videos. One of them was about farmworkers’ perspectives towards pesticides and how it affects their skin and sleep deprivation. The other was about children who drop out of school to work on the farm to help their families live a better life.

“It doesn’t take periods to adjust (to something like that),” said senior Noelle Lane. “You never really adjust.”

HUG presented stories about the former migrant workers and one story about the son of a farmworker. It made many realize how privileged they are to be at Guilford College.

Those who attended stayed silent after Irving Zavaleta Jimenez, Multicultural Education and Latino Community Coordinator, shared a heartfelt story.

“I actually did an internship with a boy named Edson,” said Zavaleta. “He was 15, (with) no mother, no father and no one because of his family working in the fields.

“It made me feel privileged because even though my family worked in the fields, I still had them.”

After a short moment of silence, attendees expressed appreciation toward HUG for what they were doing.

“What you’re doing here, teaching Latinos about something so (delicate) like this, is amazing,” said attendee Margo McBane, history professor at San Jose University. “This history goes way back, all the way to California, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

“It’s important for Chicanos and Mexican-Americans to know their ancestors.”

The vigil ended with the  lighting of candles  honoring those who died working in the fields to keep their own food on the table.

On March 27, HUG invited everyone for a little bit of happiness. The group did Salsa by the Rock where anyone could come by and donate clothes to the local farmworkers.

It was also a great way to get to know everyone and even shake off a little of the sadness from the day before.

“The goal for NFAW was a success because its goal was to inform the Guilford community about what the undocumented farmworkers experience,” said President of HUG and sophomore Danewrys Tejeda. “Seeing the amount of people that attended the events, I have faith saying that people took away valuable information that hopefully left an impression on their daily lives.”

On Tuesday, March 31, a banquet was held in honor of Cesar Chavez at 5 p.m. in the Gilmer Room.