Farmworkers’ average annual income is $11,000, making them the lowest paid workforce in the nation.
2003 ITF Intern, DHEC Migrant Health Education at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach, John's Island, SC
Update from November 2008
For my internship I did health education in the camps and in the fields around Charleston, SC. I mainly educated on staying hydrated and protecting against pesticides; I also interpreted at the migrant clinic.
I was forever changed after my internship. I grew a passion for social justice, as well as the population I served on John's Island. The following summer I learned there would be no SAF intern at my placement, so I wrote a proposal and created my own internship interpreting for and educating migrant workers. That turned into my Bachelor's thesis, on the Latino population in the southeast.
After I graduated from the College of Charleston I followed my social justice roots into Teach for America. I was placed in Philadelphia in a bilingual school (with fellow '03er Rachel Kuck!) where I taught 6th and 7th grade in English and Spanish. During that time I married. After finishing TFA, my husband's grad program took us abroad to Mexico and Panama, where I taught English and travelled as much as possible. Now we're in Columbia, SC as he finishes his degree and I'm teaching in a local low income school. Each week I volunteer at the local free clinic interpreting for the non-Spanish speaking doctors.
I miss all my fellow interns and am truly thankful for the direction in which SAF pointed me!
2003 ITF Intern, Rockingham County Migrant Education Program, Reidsville, NC
Update from December 2007
SAF was my first lived experience of fighting for justice and empowerment. As an intern with the MEP, I recruited migrant families to join the program and guided them toward educational opportunities. I had always been interested in Hispanic communities and knew I wanted to do work involving both Spanish-speaking populations, and helping less-empowered people to see their rights and potential.
However, I had always envisioned this work taking me outside of the country. Through my experience with SAF, I realized that my energy could effectively be used in our own country, and I began to research opportunities in which I could work toward lessening some of the difficulties unempowered populations experience in the United States.
Upon graduating from Furman University in 2005, I moved to Philadelphia and began teaching sixth grade as a Teach For America corps member. The school in which I was placed is 90% Hispanic (namely Puerto Rican) and 10% African American. With this demographic population, I was able to meld my interests of working with Spanish-speaking communities and social change. The realities I faced in the classroom were like nothing I had ever expected, coming from a privileged background and a positive public school experience. My students were, on average, over two years behind in both math and reading, and it became our mission to get ready for seventh grade and future educational pursuits. In the two years I taught in Philadelphia, I was able to see changes in my students, both academically and emotionally, and I truly believe that our generation has the capability to change the course of history by closing the achievement gap. My students averaged two years of growth in both math and reading each year, and because of this, they know what to expect from future teachers and themselves to ensure they reach their academic and career goals.
I am now a Program Director for Teach For America - Greater New Orleans, and in this role I support current corps members, both in and out of the classroom. Now is a crucial time in New Orleans and our window of opportunity for rebuilding this city will soon be closing. If we can get it right in New Orleans, it can be done anywhere, and the city will be a model for change across the country. Serving as an intern with SAF has greatly changed my career path in terms of where I would do the work that interests me. I also gained invaluable professional experience and felt for the first time that I was doing work that truly made a difference. These emotions and experiences have remained with me through my years as an alumnus, and my devotion to equity will continue throughout my career.