- Citlaly Marquez, 2022 SAF intern
SC Migrant Education Program
Realizing that I am halfway through the summer in my work is quite crazy. I have been working with the South Carolina Migrant Education Program and it has been one of the most educational and fulfilling things that I have ever done.
Our job consists of a lot of outreach and traveling. Our program covers the whole state, so recruiters need to be all over to reach as many farmworkers as possible. On a typical day, we travel to 3-4 farmworker camps and search for youth or families to register for our program. In this state, people under 22 have the right to public education, but with a job such as farm work, it is tough for them to think about school when they are needed to work. By signing them up into our program, we bring school to them. This program is amazing because it works with their busy schedules during times that are more convenient for them.
The service the farmworkers are mostly interested in is the English classes. The language barrier is one of the many obstacles migrant workers face, but with our services, we hope to ease that and provide a resource they can take with them for life. For children and families, we provide tutoring and enrichment activities. We also provide occasional translation services as well as transportation. Overall, we just want to be a helpful resource for them while they are working in South Carolina.
One of the experiences that stuck with me was going to a camp and giving a class on how to ask for things using the phrases “I would like”, “Can I have”, and “May I have.” This is one of the common classes we teach so it can get very repetitive for us. In this instance, we were thanked so much that it helped me remember that even these simple classes can mean so much to farmworkers. After our class, the workers tell us that it is very hard for them to go out into the world and ask for help at a store, order at a restaurant, or even talk to their bosses because of the little English they know. They always enjoy the classes and ask us to come back which makes me so immensely happy. It’s interactions like this that remind me how important these services are for farmworkers and how much of an impact we are making in their lives.