Making Connections

In my first two blogs, I have focused on themes of the week. However, in doing so, I have failed to give my avid readers and fans a glimpse into what is a typical week of work for me.

Mondays and Fridays are all about the Painted Turtle Farm. Waking up early to farm is not one of life’s greatest pleasures, but the farm is looking great, thanks in part to all the weeding we do. Monday nights on the farm make for a much better time, as the atmosphere is lively and exciting. Monday nights are community nights on the farm, when families come to tend their plots. It is a great opportunity to get to know families from the community, most of which are Hispanic.

Tuesdays make truth of the proverb you reap what you sow. I work in the Campus Kitchen on Tuesday mornings, processing the vegetables that we harvested from the farm. The past two weeks, Alyssa and I have processed kale. In the winter months, when fruits and vegetables are not in abundance, the foods we processed will provide healthy options to families throughout the county. It is cool to see that the food we harvest on Monday and process on Tuesday can have a large impact on the health options for a family come winter. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, my fellow interns and I teach an adult ESL class led by Darren. I have really enjoyed the ESL classes, first because I have aspirations in the future to teach English in a Spanish speaking country. It is a great opportunity to practice my Spanish, while improving the adults’ English. The classes are also great because we encounter a number of the same people who are out on the farm on Monday nights. It is great to see people actively participating to improve their community. Thus far, the most rewarding experience of the fellowship was going out to Mr. G’s with two of the ESL families. It was great to spend time with these two wonderful families, playing tag and eating ice cream together.

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I had been going to work ready, where I tutored ladies studying for their GED. However, the Migrant Education program begins the first week in July, at which time I will switch from Work Ready to Migrant Education. I am looking forward to Migrant Education because I will be working with 11th and 12th graders, as opposed to ladies older than me. On Wednesday nights, the whole group attends Circles, where we first eat a meal prepared in the campus kitchen. Circles is a support group for people seeking to work their way toward economic self-sufficiency. I enjoy Circles because it is filled with great people who remain positive in the face of adversity, and they actively seek a better life for themselves and their kids.

In all my work, one of the most important aspects is the construction of communities. A community can be large or small and is not divided by race, gender, language, social status, or income. A community is more than just a group, it is a fellowship of people who share a common vision or attitude. Monday nights at the farm display this sense of community as an eclectic group comes together to improve the farm and share a social moment. Circles is a community of people who want to make a better life for themselves along with the people who genuinely want to help make that possible. I most strongly felt a part of a new community when I was bonding with the two ESL families over ice cream. The continuing construction of relationships and communities is something I hope will continue as the summer progresses.

Nathan Cody ’16