Pitzer Spotlights

2006-2007 Spotlight Archives

Pitzer College Students Busy Helping Others During Spring Break

Thirty two students joined Professor Jose Calderon as participants in the thirteenth annual Alternative Spring Break in Keene and Delano, California, from March 9 -13. In weeks before the activity, the students organized a canned food drive in support of thousands of farm workers who were affected by a recent crop freeze in the San Joaquin Valley. The students presented dozens of boxes of canned goods and $400 to the farm workers in Delano. In addition, the students carried out various service learning projects that included the cleaning out of a building that will be the site of a future Cesar Chavez Educational Institute and the framing of pictures of elderly Filipino farm workers (who have all passed away) at Agbayani Village.

Delano, CA
Students visit the gravesite of Pete Velasco, a Filipino immigrant and farm worker who was UFW secretary-treasurer for over a decade.

As part of their advocacy service, the students passed out literature in support of immigrant rights in Bakersfield and presented five “teatro” skits to the farm worker community on the last night of their visit. In return, various farm worker leaders, including the family members of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, shared their stories describing the long history of the farm worker social movement and how it continues to survive. In recognition of the students’ service projects, the national president of the United Farm Worker’s Union, Arturo Rodriguez, and his wife Sonia, held a barbeque fiesta in their honor at their home in La Paz.

The majority of the students participating on the trip were members of Professor Calderon's Rural and Urban Social Movements class that fulfills Pitzer's social responsibility requirement for graduation.

"One of the requisites of the class is that students prepare a "reflection paper" combining sociological concepts learned through our readings and presentations in the classroom with the alternative spring break experience," Professor Calderon said.

The class also requires students to be involved in a social movement organization throughout the semester and to write a final paper using John Lofland's seven criteria for a Social Movement Organization. Professor Calderon said, "Students in my class are involved in participatory research and service projects focusing on day laborer, community garden, immigrant rights, union, and conflict resolution organizations. The emphasis in the class is to develop collaborative relations between our class and community members; promote the multiple methods of discovery and dissemination of the knowledge produced; and use community-based research service, and action to advance social change for the purpose of achieving social justice."

"This is one of many exemplary ways Pitzer students show their devotion to social service. It was an honor to spend my spring break organizing and learning about an ongoing social justice movement with dedicated peers and extraordinary people," Christian Lopez '10 said.