Zola Jay, 2021 SAF intern, SC Legal Services
Reflected in the computer screen that illuminated the faces of nearly thirty of my peers, was that of myself. Across it were expressions that ranged from excited to nervous to joyful as each fellow SAFista shared their hopes, intentions and the reasons for their participation in this shared space. The words of others encouraged me to self-reflect, especially in regards to my privilege, and it reminded me of the importance of amplifying voices outside of my own. And through this open dialogue, my nerves were quickly dissipated.
Beyond the online platform that introduced me to SAF’s community, orientation week for the Into the Fields program created a sense of solidarity, one that I am sure will only grow over the next eight weeks, and far beyond the summer. Through hearing stories of the agricultural livelihoods of farmworkers and their families in the United States, I was reminded of the greens and browns of Satipo, Peru. The reds of the coffee cherries and the dulled metal of the bean roaster constituted some of the colors of a farm in the mountainous region. While I became interested in migrant rights in early high school, it was this class on food systems in Latin America in addition to other interactions within migrant communities in my own town, that made the greatest impact on me. Prior to this, most of what I had learned about migrant rights was sourced from secondary literature sources and decades-old photos of labor communities. Excluded much of the time were the voices of migrants and their families that are most crucial in the push for greater visibility, recognition, and protection.
I am most excited to forge connections with individuals with unique stories and to build on my knowledge in order to absorb and give power to those stories. I look forward to recognizing and delving into the overlaps in social, economic, and environmental issues and the direct consequences that these have on the livelihoods of countless migrant workers.