Gift of the Fields

Writers Workshop for Migrant Youth

I’m always proud and humbled to participate in the Latino Writers Collective’s writers workshops for migrant youth. It’s one of the events I look forward to each summer.

In those workshops migrant youth find their long-silenced voices and speak of hidden truths. For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever spoken aloud about being from migrant families.

Just when their stories of pain, injustice and heartache are about to overpower and drown our souls, the hope these incredible students have for the future lifts us all to a place of beauty.

Anyone who has worked the fields knows that it … it takes. It takes everything you have and everything you are. It takes time away from your family. It takes time away from your school. It takes your childhood by making you become an adult sooner than you should. It takes your friends. It even takes the lives of people you love.  That’s a hard reality to accept as we witness these young people stand and share their stories.

But then, something extraordinary happens, it’s the moment I wait all year to experience.

Those magnificent students remind me that while the fields take so much from us, they also offer gifts. The gift of a bond that unites us all as migrants. The gift to see truth with young but experienced eyes. The gift to sense danger and to protect our families long before others could discern the threat. The gift of silent introspection that comes from physical labor. The gift to strive for a better life for our families and for ourselves. The gift to know that no matter how high we rise or how low we fall, we are of the fields … and we take care of our own.

When I was young, I hated summer because it meant going to work in the fields. Now, all these years later, I can’t wait for summer because it means I can spend another day with my migrant brothers and sisters.

And that is another gift of the fields.

Thanks to the writers and poets who donated copies of their books, many of them autographed, so that we could give the students a small gift for sharing their stories. You work will serve as a reminder of the session and will continue to inspire them as you do us. Thanks, again.

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