Not Just Another Film Screening

Claudia:

Claudia

During National Farmworkers Awareness Week (3/25/2012-3/31/2012), La Salud, the Latino/a Public Health Student organization hosted a screening of “The Harvest/La Cosecha,” a film by U. Roberto Romano and with it brought a pleasant surprise. The Harvest is a documentary about the lives of children who are migrant farm workers in the United States.

Attendees became overwhelmed with emotion as the featured children shared their stories and as the reality of where our food really comes from manifested before our eyes. That was not the surprise.  The surprise was that this film screening proved to be the ideal place for a unique experience – an experience that brought together students, administrative staff, and community members.

At the conclusion of the film, the room opened up for discussion. This is where we found out that three community members were present and that they had a direct link to the migrant farmworker experience. Two of them had been child migrant farmworkers themselves, and one was the product of migrant farmworkers. All three community members were highly involved with a local migrant outreach program that provides resources and support to migrant farmworkers in Washtenaw and other neighboring counties.

After sharing their personal stories, the community members inquired about students’ interest and involvement in migrant farmworker issues. Students responded that their attendance was due to their need to learn beyond the classroom and beyond research. This led to a dialogue about the gap between academia and the local community. This conversation was taken even further with the presence of administrative staff from the School of Public Health Office of the Dean as attendees discussed action steps that could be taken to address these gaps.

Some students stated that they had previously written research papers on migrant farmworkers and although they learned many facts, it didn’t quite put the issues in context the way the film and the current discussion did. Many students expressed their desire to have more opportunities to learn about and connect directly with local community members and this was welcomed by the community members’ willingness to partner with the university and its students.

This event was an eye-opening experience for those who attended. In addition to learning about the struggles of  children migrant farm workers, something else was very clear:

We all have something to offer and we all have something to learn from each other – most importantly together we can organize and move closer to creating positive change. 

5 thoughts on “Not Just Another Film Screening

  1. This was a very informative film screening and discussion. La Salud did a great job engaging the conversation, and really creating an awareness of the real circumstances these children live while working as migrant workers. Having the actual community members there just further demonstrated the need for a partnership between our community in SPH and the outside community who interact with these fellow migrant workers. We have all realized that more interaction is needed, and La Salud was able able to incite this unmet need.

    • I agree, the conversation was driven by the openness and respectful curiosity of the attendees. It is true that we all seek partnerships and ways to work collaboratively. As public health graduate students, it is important for us to learn from the communities themselves. In addition, we need the support of our school and the community to meet the needs of everyone.

  2. People don’t seem to understand that the value meals at fast-food restaurants are only possible because of the migrant labor force. Their labor provides our produce, but they are compensated so little! A highlight of the film is when a migrant worker talks about the mark-up of the produce at the grocery store; produce she picked for a few cents but cannot afford at the store.

    We live in a society that allows children to be migrant workers at very young ages, working in harsh conditions under the sun and with pesticides. However, if they tried to work in the air-conditioned grocery stores where their labor ends up, they are denied for being under age. What does this tell us about our society? It tells us that the convenience we demand is build on a labor force largely ignored by people.

    • That was a very powerful and emotional scene – watching the family walk through the produce section and reflect on the prices and their inability to afford the same produce they harvest/pick.

      It is very important to bring awareness to these injustices. They are happening in our very own backyards.

  3. I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I have really enjoyed reading it since then. Your content is very informational. Keep posting the good blogs!

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