Sam Hernandez, Cosecha Intern, 2022
During the beginning of my participation with the Cosecha Fellowship, I didn't know what truths I was going to have to face about myself in this field of work. From the very first retreat, I realized we were all going to face the hard topics and truths that surround this work. When we looked into “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, we discussed the topic of white supremacy and how that shows up into every facet of our lives and our ability to be a leader. I learned over that retreat that I have quite a lot to learn, but that I also have a giant community of support to rely on in times of need and learning.
Throughout the fellowship, many issues were revealed to me whether it be through our monthly groups, our one-on-ones, or through the many changes that happened to me during my participation in the fellowship. The “Big Issue” for me was actually a three-fold problem, which all came back to my outlook on myself and my ability to succeed. My big issue started off with this feeling of burnout in the workplace and eventually my life in general, which led to these feelings of guilt and shame over my participation in this work and my intentions of my participation. This led me to begin to question my ideas of “Self-Empowerment” in my life and “Belonging” in these places and in my communities.
In the final retreat, we actually covered these topics of guilt and shame and also how to feel energized again in this work (which was a topic I did not realize how much I needed to discuss). These topics are not easy to discuss and there are not always set “solutions” to these intangible issues. Some of the ways I have been able to have an impact on this issue is doing what I can physically and mentally do that day, and not shaming myself for the stuff I didn't get done. Not shaming myself has given me space to care for myself without guilt. This space I now have to take care of myself has translated into me working harder and more passionately at my job, I have more space to show up fully with my friends and family, and generally more peace throughout my day.
Everyday isn't perfect and these feelings still creep from the back of your mind to the front. Through learning different embodiment practices, my work with healing centered engagement, and my knowledge that I have a giant community of support around me and the support from my cohort ladies, I have come to learn that these feelings are temporary and stress induced. This is how my participation in SAF has affected me because without my first internship in 2020, I would not have pursued the line of work I am in now and I wouldn't have gotten to be a part of Cosecha. Although I do not work directly with the farmworker movement anymore, I do work with a lot of marginalized black and brown communities today and continue to use the tools, knowledge, and experience that SAF has given to me.