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Chadwick School - 26800 S Academy Drive, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA - (310) 377-1543


Volume 65 Number 4

Chadwick students impact lives of migrant families in Salinas

by Arianna Menzelos - 2015-02-19


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Three times every year, Chadwick students visit the city of Salinas on the Central California Coast, near Monterey, to mentor younger students and learn about the lives of families in migrant worker camps. Each trip focuses on a different major theme: science and technology, art or literacy and reading.

Chadwick students used to go to Mexico for this service opportunity, but Becky Noble, Director of Community Service, decided to move the trip to Salinas a few years ago.

“The reality is that we can have a global experience here in the state of California,” Noble said. “We had always wanted to look more into the migrant worker population because many of these people are very poor and live a lifestyle that is not conducive to breaking their cycle of poverty.”

The children of migrant farm workers experience a lot of instability with regards to both their living conditions and their education. Students lose valuable time in an educational setting due to their frequent moves from place to place.

A few years ago, Noble contacted Oscar Ramos, a former migrant worker from Salinas who attended UC Berkeley and decided to return to his community in hopes of improving stability in the education of these children. Ramos teaches a class at Sherwood Elementary School in Salinas, so Chadwick students learn from him about what it means to be a migrant worker and the challenges that the families face both financially and academically.

Chadwick students leave early Friday morning and work in the classroom all afternoon. On Friday evening, Chadwick hosts a dinner for the families of migrant workers, and volunteers hand out collected donations.

Throughout the year, Hispanic Culture Club, a student-run club at Chadwick, raises money to buy e-readers and gift cards for the students to encourage reading.

“The most amazing part of the evening, to me, was meeting the mothers of the kids at school. I was amazed to see how grateful they were for the donations,” sophomore Claudette Proctor said.

Volunteers stay in labor camps with migrant families during the trip. On Saturday morning, students go back to work in the classroom.

Volunteers then have the opportunity to visit local farms and experience what would be similar to an average day for a migrant farm worker.

Next week, Sunday through Tuesday, Chadwick volunteers will aid in student art projects and accompany the students to a famous local sculpture.

Students will be able to learn more about their surroundings from an artistic standpoint, and have a heightened appreciation for the artists in their community.

Noble hopes to instill a greater level of gratitude in the Chadwick community through these trips to Salinas.

“I think one of the major goals in going to Salinas is to become a little bit more familiar with the debt we owe to workers who often times don’t even make minimum wage,” Noble said.

Noble also wants to expose the Chadwick community to the harsh conditions of migrant worker camps.

These buildings, meagerly furnished, are often times built without indoor plumbing. The floors are concrete, and there are shared kitchens.

“This trip was an opportunity I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, and I am grateful for the profound effects it left on my perspective and my awareness of the difficulties that these families face every day,” Proctor said.

Says Noble: “The experience leads you to realize that the cycle of education is critical for people to become successful in this world.”



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Article Keywords:

chadwick, volunteers, noble, year, salinas, families, migrant, worker, trip, community, experience, student

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