Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm officially back

I'm officially back at the UMOS Migrant Head Start. My last day at Seneca was this past Friday. I worked there for roughly three weeks, I think. It would have been cool to finish out the season there just to say that I did it. I met my objective, however, of meeting some of the other migrants. In addition, my family needs me to have weekends off; and the Head Start needs teachers. By changing over to the school, I will be caring for the children of my friends over at the plant. I start again tomorrow.

Working at the plant was both easy and tough. The easy parts are the responsibilities. You basically do one job repeatedly throughout the day. On occasion, you get the opportunity to do something new. The gist of it is that the work is easy and boring, but very necessary. What is difficult are not the long hours; rather, the difficult parts are the cleaning and boredom. My hands are beat up from so much shoveling and working with a pitchfork. I got over the body soreness within a week. My hands continued having joint soreness and even developed nerve pain like you would get with carpal tunnel syndrome. My hands are dry, rough, and calloused. I don't mention these things for sympathy. These are things that some of the other workers are undergoing and will continue to face until the end of the season.

In my case, I can choose where I work. Some of the immigrants were curious about why I would be working at the plant after having some education. In fact, I became a bit of a curiosity to the community of migrants. They are there because they don't have too many options, work-wise. Their challenges include lack of education, lack of English, and lack of official work eligibility. Obviously, they were curious why I would submit myself to that kind of work. My usual answer was that Seneca pays better, which satisfied their curiosity. I came to realize something that I've often heard but never gave it any significance. That is, we must live up to our potentials. We must be the best we can be at what we do. With more power comes more responsibility (thanks Spider-Man). The other migrants respected me for working alongside them and expressed a little bit of admiration for having some education. But, I could sense that they expected me to do more. This is one reason why I chose to return to UMOS, a sense of obligation to take my place in the world.

There was a good chance that I would not be able to return to UMOS because I quit so suddenly, without advance notice. If they did not sorely need bilingual teachers, I probably would not be rehired. Of course, I would understand why. Even knowing this, I pressed to be rehired in order to meet their need. I had a couple people go to bat for me to get back in. This time, I'm in until the end of the season. I owe it to them for sticking out their necks on my behalf.

Next week, on Sunday, there will be a show on TLC called The Messengers. They will go out and spend a day as migrant workers and then come back to share the experience with an audience. I plan on watching it and invite others to check it out as well. Perhaps their experience will be similar to mine.
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