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Month: August 2011

New READ Poster

The newest version of the READ poster from the UW-Madison Libraries is here. Again, it features Bucky reading this year’s Go Big Read book Enrique’s Journey in a Memorial Union Terrace chair.

Email us if you’d like a copy.

CBS News: “Farm Labor: Children in the Fields”

The CBS News article, “Farm Labor: Children in the Fields” explores some of the lives of young farm laborers in America and raises ethical questions relating to the fact that children as young as twelve could be out working in the fields.

The article begins with two teenage boys, 13 and 17 years old, who work with their father in the fields during the hot summer in Texas. They work roughly ten hours a day and are paid minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. If it rains, they don’t get paid.

Their father mentions how hard the work is, especially in the heat. The children both admit that they do not like the work they have to do, but one says he does it “to help my parents, to buy us clothes and school supplies.” And the other says, “…it’s very important, so we can help ’em all pay the bills and everything.”

It appears that some children are working in the fields in order for their families (and themselves) to survive financially. Farming is the only choice because unlike other industries, children as young as twelve can work.

This article relates to the story of many migrants who leave their families behind because they want to support their family financially. It’s often a choice they do not want to make, but they feel like they have to. This is seen in Enrique’s Journey when Enrique’s mother leaves Honduras as well as Enrique and other migrants in the novel. They seek out a better life financially, so they leave in hopes of finding work in the U.S. Many migrants, like Enrique’s mother and Enrique himself, will send money back home to their families, to give them the lives they never would have had otherwise.

Sure, the children that are often left behind can survive better financially, but there’s the lack of closeness, connection, and love with their migrant parent(s). This often drives children, like Enrique, to leave and search for their parents. As for the young children who work on the farm to help out their family, they lose parts of their childhood, their summers, and have to work long grueling hours. So, it begs the question “is fleeing to the U.S. or farming at a young age to financially support the family worth it?”

The article provides insight to just a few examples of young farmers in the U.S. and of course, the issues don’t necessarily apply to all farmers. For more information, read the article here. There’s more to read about migrants from Mexico and Central America who are also working on the farms.

Feel free to post a comment about the article! We would love to hear what you think.

Photo/Video Credit: Bryon Pitts. “The Debate on Child Farm Labor”. 60 Minutes. 9 September 2011.

Jessica Waala
Undergraduate Student

Enrique’s Journey: Readers Making a Difference

Regardless of the stance one takes on the immigration debate, most will agree that Enrique’s Journey identifies numerous societal problems- on both sides of the border. Sonia Nazario retraced Enrique’s Journey twice in order to tell his story, but readers of her narrative also have ways to spread the word, become involved, and make a difference. As you read Enrique’s Journey, check out the following organizations and opportunities to see what others are doing, or to join in.

On the official website for the book, Sonia Nazario describes ways that readers have made a difference– by creating jobs in Guatemala, opening a school in Chiapas, or sending clothing and supplies to the people who helped Enrique and other migrants.

If you’re interested in sending supplies, Nazario includes addresses for two shelters in Mexico, both mentioned in the book. She also suggests fair trade organizations, whose workers are guaranteed a living wage, or whose profits go toward helping residents of poverty-stricken Central American areas.

While many of the above organizations take on an international approach, others are helping residents of our own communities. The Literacy Network located in Madison, Wisconsin, serves low income families in need of literacy services, including immigrants. Click here to learn about volunteer opportunities.

Finally, don’t forget to check out these inspirational photos of people who have donated their time, money, or skills to help migrants as well as those trying to make a living in their home countries.

Interested in more volunteer opportunities, or have a suggestion for readers to get involved? Leave a comment and let us know!

Sarah Leeman

Graduate Student

Working Legally in the U.S.: Obtaining a Work Visa

Many Americans know that it is possible for immigrants to work legally in the United States- after all, in 2009, over 1 million immigrants were legally admitted to the country (Public Agenda). In Enrique’s Journey, both Lourdes and Enrique wanted to come to the United States briefly- to work and then return to Honduras. However, the process to obtain a work visa can be difficult and costly- a hurdle that is often too much for many. Like millions of others, Enrique and his mother chose to take the dangerous journey to become undocumented workers in the United States.

What makes it so difficult to obtain a work visa? The process varies depending on the type of work one intends to do. Work visas exist for temporary workers, permanent workers, and special cases for student and exchange visitors and temporary business visitors.

There are even further sub-types of visas, such as the temporary H-2A visa for agriculture workers. In order to obtain a temporary or permanent work visa, a worker’s new American employer must file a non-immigrant petition on his or her behalf. Additional hurdles may apply. For example, for the H2A Agriculture Visa, employers must demonstrate that American workers are not available to accomplish the work.

While this need for an existing connection to an American employer might be difficult for many temporary workers to obtain, monetary costs are another factor. An Application for Employment Authorization has a filing fee of $380- and other types of forms can cost even more. For families that cannot even afford to feed their children- like many in Enrique’s Journey, this expensive, long process is often impossible.

Interested in learning more? Visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, which is also available in Spanish.

Sarah Leeman

Graduate Student

House Fellows Get Books

On Tuesday all House Fellows on campus received a copy of this year’s book, Enrique’s Journey. There will be discussions and events within University Housing to explore the book’s themes.

Photo courtesy of Mike Crawford, University Housing

Madison Events and Activities

Summer isn’t over yet, but UW Madison is getting ready for the school year with some great events! Make sure these are marked on your calendar, and stay tuned for events and activities from Go Big Read, too.

TODAY (August 10th): UW Madison is at the Wisconsin State Fair, so if you’re on the grounds, stop by for a variety of Badger fun! Check out a schedule of events here.

August 20th: Urban Horticulture Field Day at the West Madison Ag Research Station

Check out a variety of ongoing art exhibits from the Wisconsin Union Art Committee! This student run committee hosts art exhibits in five gallery spaces located at Memorial Union and Union South.

September 1st: The school year kicks off with the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students and football season begins with a home game against UNLV.

September 3-4: Taste of Madison will showcase over 75 local restaurants to benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Dane County

That’s just a small sampling of the great events going on around campus and the city of Madison. Don’t forget to visit the Wisconsin Union website to see what’s going on at the Memorial Union or Union South for the rest of the summer, and keep an eye on the UW Madison Events calendar, too!

Reading Lists Across Campus

Enrique’s Journey isn’t the only great book being read on UW Madison’s campus. Many departments, groups, and libraries have put together reading lists for students, faculty, and staff. Whether you’re doing research on a certain topic or just looking for a summer read before classes start up, these are a great place to look!

Students at the Center for Culture, History, and the Environment have put together book lists by topic, such as “Food and Nature” and “Intellectual and Cultural History.” View the list here, organized by department.

UW’s Graaskamp Center for Real Estate has a Reading For Life series of suggested books for students. You can read posts on the topic in the department blog.

Campus libraries often have book lists ordered by subject, making it easy to find books on your area of interest. Here’s a few libraries with some great specialized book lists.

Many libraries feature their new books. Check out the Geology Library’s new acquisitions here.

The Open Book Cafe in College Library holds a great collection of books, DVDs, and more, designed for students’ extracurricular reading. Click here to visit their website.

Whether you’re interested in fishing, water quality, frogs, or conservation, Wisconsin’s Water Library has lists for numerous water-related topics. See them all here!

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center features a number of lists of different kinds of children’s books, including “50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know.”

Looking for something else? Ask one of UW’s librarians for a suggestion, or leave us a comment!