Sarah Bolinger's Blog

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Final Reflection

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

This class has been a really great experience, because of the combination of teaching and discussion, because of the great people in the class, and because the topic is one that is fascinating to me and also very, very pertinent to the state of the US today. In our final class we made a long list of the reasons people give for being anti-immigration, and then made a parallel list of responses. A lot of the things people say are just blatantly untrue, and so knowing the facts is very important. The arguments that are more sentimental are harder to respond to, We did a good exercise where we broke into pairs, with each pair assigned a different person (an Oberlin student, a fellow activist on a different cause, a nativist), and we brainstormed how we would try to interact with that person about immigration issues.

I have always wanted to learn more about immigration law, and this class has been a good way to at least familiarize myself with the basics. The information I’ve learned can be used in a lot of the activism I do surrounding food issues.

The teaching component was great, and even though we only got to teach three classes, I loved meeting the workers and chatting with them, and I loved teaching as well. I hope to continue it next semester.

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5/8/11:

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

This week, once again, I couldn’t make it out to Vermillion for the soccer game because of the time at which we had to leave Oberlin. There was no ESL class again, though. I wish I had gotten to teach more. I definitely hope to continue teaching next semester as well.

Class this week was about immigration reform. It was really interesting to learn about how George W. Bush was actually very pro-immigration, and about how much Obama has actually done on the issue (which doesn’t appear to be much).

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5/1/11:

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

I couldn’t go to Vermillion today because we had to drive out early in order to play soccer. There was no ESL class, though, because of the soccer game, and we might not teach again for the rest of the year. I presented this week in class (4/26), though, with Katie. We talked about NAFTA/CAFTA, free trade, the IMF, and the Latin American debt crisis. We played a couple of clips from the film “Life and Debt”, which is about how the IMF, the World Bank, and globalization policies affect developing countries. The film focuses specifically on Jamaica, but the issues are very similar across Latin America.
The Latin American debt crisis started in 70s and 80s (different depending on which country). It followed a huge amount of borrowing by Latin American countries in the 60s and 70s to help industrialization. When it later became impossible for them to pay back the loans, the banks often refused to refinance the loans, many of which were only short-term, and also made much stricter rules for future borrowing. The IMF stepped in, offering to forgive the outstanding loans if the countries adopted neoliberal trade policies (like NAFTA/CAFTA) and opened up their economies to the world market. The idea is for a “trickle down” effect to occur. Also, there is the idea that each of these countries is guaranteed one export commodity.
What has happened so far is the flooding of these countries with cheap American products and has greatly decreased employment and raised cost of living. The US also did not get rid of its agricultural subsidies, although it required Latin American countries to do so, further tilting the market in the US’s favor. It also means many farmers are out of work in these countries and a great number of them do what you might expect–attempt to move to the US and get a job in the farmworker industry. This led to a discussion of why there are borders for people between us and Latin America, but not for goods and services. Our economies are very closely tied, almost as if there were no border, and yet there is no free movement of labor.
We discussed “free trade zones” and how companies in these zones can get around labor laws and paying tariffs.

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Notes on third ESL class (4/24/11):

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

Today we made little bags of candy to put on the doors of the houses, and included little notes in Spanish saying Happy Easter and reminding everyone that there was class tonight. Almost everyone was busy watching a soccer game, so we were worried no one would show up. Two students did, though, and  we used the time to review. Both students were at an advanced level of English, so we didn’t have to break into pairs. We did a crossword puzzle to review the prepositions, which the one student who was there at the time had very little trouble with.  We also played pictionary, trying to integrate all the vocab (descriptions, locations, other words). It was fun, and they jumped right in to drawing things. The lesson went well even though we weren’t introducing new vocabulary.

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Notes on second ESL class (4/17/11):

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

Today’s class was focused around words used to describe people. Our list included physical characteristics (pretty, ugly, tall, short, etc) and personality characteristics (funny, boring, nice, mean, etc). First we went through the words and explained them in English. The students wrote the Spanish equivalent next to the words on their vocabulary sheets to help them remember.

Next, we used some magazine cutouts of different people for a description-writing exercise. We had everyone choose a person to describe (the teachers each chose one, too) and then write a short description to practice their writing skills and integrating the vocabulary. We had lots of fun with this exercise, and the students wrote really good descriptions. We had them read the descriptions out loud, which was fun and also a good speaking exercise.

We also went over the body parts (most of which they already knew really well) and then played Simon Says. This was also really fun and I think they enjoyed it.

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Notes on my first day of ESL (4/10/11):

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

Notes on my first day of ESL (4/10/11):
This was my first time teaching ESL, and my first time at Willoway, but Cindy and Maya have been here a lot and know some of the workers. Our class was at a large mix of levels of proficiency in English, which made it challenging to feel like we were teaching everyone effectively. We discussed maybe breaking into groups at different levels to be sure we weren’t leaving anyone behind or boring the more advanced students. The day’s lesson plan was centered around prepositions. First we did introductions and played two truths and a lie, which was somewhat hard to explain. I think everyone got it in the end. We played with statements like, “I am from Massachusetts” “I have two cats” “I have three brothers”.

We then moved on to the prepositions. We had three categories of words: those showing position (on, under, behind, in front of, next to, etc), those showing movement (towards, along, past, under, over, through), and those showing time (before, after, during, at). We got through the first two categories, demonstrating with different objects, and then played a game where we passed a ball around and the students had to put it on the table, or under the table, or beside them. We tried to do some worksheets that were a little confusing. All in all, despite the different levels of English, it was a good class.

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3-22:

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

Today we discussed police brutality and “know your rights.” The stories of people being pulled over are frightening and disgusting, and it’s even more disturbing to me that even in a case where someone has tax documentation of ten or more years in residence, has a family in the US, and no criminal record, there is almost no chance IWP can do anything for them.

We discussed responses they tell undocumented people to give to police when they get pulled over or when police come to their house. Saying “I’m from Vermillion” instead of “I’m from [country that isn’t the US]” is one thing they can say, because it’s true. Carrying fake documentation, though, is illegal. Having a made-up name is not illegal, but using someone else’s name is.

I think it’s very important for people to know that police cannot search their house without a warrant, and that they should never open the door when police come by. If the police have a warrant, they can slip it under the door. Another very important thing to know is your right to remain silent. You don’t have to give your name; on the other hand, lying to police or immigration is a crime. You don’t have to sign anything or answer questions, and can tell them you won’t until you can see a lawyer.

It IS illegal to be pulled over just for looking Latin@, but that doesn’t stop this racism from happening again and again, and people need to be prepared.

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3-15:

May 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

My ESL teaching will not start until after break, so I’ll blog about what we’ve been discussing in class, and my thoughts on ESL and immigration law. This week’s class was on farmworker rights, and though I couldn’t make it to class, I have some thoughts on the subject and I read a bit about it to try to get a good understanding and make up for not coming to class. Since the Immigrant Worker Project works with immigrant and migrant farm workers, understanding this issue will be important to my work this semester and in the future with IWP.

Large corporations are often unconcerned with the health of their workers, because their stock prices and profits matter more. It is especially common for undocumented workers to be treated shockingly badly because they believe that they have no legal recourse. I was surprised to find out that farmworkers in most states are protected under workers’ laws, regardless of their immigration status. This doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of other reasons workers might not assert their rights, besides not being familiar with the protection afforded every worker under law. There are still language barriers, the fear of not being hired again next season because of being a “troublemaker,” and the fear of being fired or reported to immigration enforcement. Organizing around fair labor practices is thus very hard, and especially so for undocumented workers. Groups like United Farm Workers try to get farmworkers’ union contracts (and have succeeded in some places).

Guestworker programs like H2A provide seasonal work visas to migrant laborers, who can return year after year (as long as they don’t upset the place they work for and not get invited back, and their employer fulfills the requirements). The US Department of Labor Website specifies about H2A programs: “Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can approve an employer’s petition for such workers, the employer must file an application with the Department stating that: (1) there are not sufficient able, willing, and qualified United States (U.S.) workers available to perform the temporary and seasonal agricultural employment for which an employer desires to import nonimmigrant foreign workers; and (2) employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers”.

Health issues, especially respiratory illness, are common among farmworkers in large animal operations (like CAFOs) because of the conditions in which they work. Chemicals and endotoxins from huge quantities of animal feces (located right below the animals) clutter the air breathed by farmworkers. There are many other occupational hazards as well. As mentioned above, these are likely to go unreported for a number of reasons.

Sources:
http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/workers/
http://www.ufw.org/
http://www.economist.com/node/4374316?Story_ID=4374316

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Hello world!

February 22nd, 2011 by Sarah Bolinger · Uncategorized

Welcome to your blog. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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