Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 5: Last day :(

Hey everyone! Today was sadly our last day volunteering with FLOC. We started the day at the office working on a Facebook page, YouTube channel, and the database for FLOC.  It was a pretty long and busy day!  I am really excited about reaching new people through the media and having people see our videos of the trip and interviews we did.  We all learned so much from Justin, Bri, Diego, and FLOC supporters this week, and we hope others can get a similar experience through these new online sources.

We took a break from our work to get some lunch at a Mexican restaurant next door.  It was very yummy! They let us try their homemade drinks before we chose one (I went with Horchata YUM!)  The food filled us up pretty fast, but D was ready to eat all our leftovers (I think he regretted this later!!)  We went back to work for a few more hours until we were finished with most of our stuff.  We then went out to celebrate our last night in NC! We started at The Cookout, which had yummy burgers and amazing milkshakes!  I was pretty boring with an Oreo one, but Yang got creative with her Vanilla Pineapple and Walnut shake.

After eating,  we headed to a roller skating rink/arcade/bowling alley (I can't remember the name of it.)  It was a lot of fun! Jenny is a baller on roller skates (sorry I can't say the same for the rest of us!)  So we skated for a while until Justin, Bri, and Diego showed up and surprised us! They laughed at our skating skills, and then we went to the bowling alley.  It was a really fun night, and I am glad we got to spend it with the FLOC staff.

I can't believe we are already leaving tomorrow morning!  We are all very thankful for the FLOC staff and other organizations we met taking their time to teach us about the struggles of migrant workers.  I don't think that any of us will forget what we learned and saw on this trip.  Hopefully we will be able to come back sometime!  Well, we have to get up in a few hours so I think I better get some rest!  Peace and love everyone :)


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 4: Trip to Greensboro

"Soup" Guys! Now we are all kind of hanging out in the FLOC office. The break dancers for today's community dinner are still practicing. One of them will attend the audition of American Best Dance Crew! They are all really awesome! (See video)

Today we set off at 7:30 in the morning, leaving for Greensboro to have a meeting with a Presbyterian Church and the Beloved Community Center (BCC). The people were really excited to see that we were there. We were greatly inspired by them too. Listening to the story about how the church raised a miracle amount of money, we are just so grateful to see people with different races and religions to work together for justice. Everyone thinks that even though we are the volunteers to help FLOC, we are actually the ones helped to have this eye-opening experience. After that we tried to find a restaurant that serves food for Muslims (since Dawood hasn’t eaten meat for a long timeJ ), but we couldn’tL. We passed by a Vietnamese Restaurant but others are just not that into Asian food as I am. HOHO, so I had chicken wings again. Still nice!

After lunch we tried to get into ReynoldsAmerica’s building. Since it’s not open to the public we were kicked out. What an XXXX company!

We drove back to Mt. Olive. On the way back, Jenny and Nicole were sleeping. I started to read D’s book on a serial killer. The guys are just talking all the time. The office had already been set up for the dinner when we were back. People from the community came and we served them food. Several people gave very powerful and persuasive speeches in Spanish. We did some interviews of the farm workers who came. I was serving the food at that time, but I heard it was really touching. The video probably will be posted later.

Now we are back to Justin’s place and get rest, watching a movie. I want to play Catch Phrase Again. OK that’s pretty much we did today. Night!


Day 3: Trip to Raleigh

Today started off a little congested since the one bathroom wasn’t quite enough for our morning routine but being the resourceful business students that we are we found a way to get supply to meet demand. We were supposed to get to the office early this morning since we were traveling a little over an hour north to Raleigh so we were a little worried about making it on time but we somehow ended up beating Justin, our FLOC boss…SLACKER….kiddddding! After a pretty rushed breakfast, we hit the road and I had to drive a car full of zombies to the city (luckily he had a pretty bomb playlist...courtesy of Logan.) When we finally got there, we met with Ajamu Dillahunt, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Consumer, Housing and Workforce Issues. He was a very inspiring man full of experience and insights into social justice issues. He talked with us about his efforts to improve conditions for workers in the black community, the similarities between the black and Hispanic communities, and how to create solidarity between the two groups in the fight for justice. After a quick lunch at a specialty pizza shop, it was off to more meetings with strong FLOC supporters from church groups and other unions. Today helped us to see how community organizers communicate and collaborate to progress the social justice movement. Community organizing involves long hours, constant traveling, and inevitable frustration resulting from the slow pace of change in society. I’ve accumulated a lot respect this week for these people who work tirelessly for the rights of others, even in the face of daunting, seemingly insurmountable challenges.

After our meetings today, we began a scavenger hunt in search of something to do in for fun in North Carolina on a Wednesday night… a tougher task than you might imagine. Armed with a GPS, we searched for comedy clubs, live music, arcades, and even skating rinks, but to no avail. The final straw was when we drove 25 miles into the middle of nowhere in search of a skating rink, only to find out that it had been shut down due to too many drug deals going down there. Sounds like some wholesome fun, right? Since North Carolina couldn’t seem to supply us with any entertainment, we decided to create some of our own. We went to Wal-mart (apparently one of the more popular tourist attractions) and purchased Catch Phrase and two packs of energy drinks. The rest is the stuff of legends. After that, we got dinner at a Japanese restaurant where we met a group of high school seniors who had driven 40 minutes to this place just for something to do…We shot some videos asking them questions about what they knew about migrant farm workers, which made for some interesting footage. The night concluded with a detour through some shady back roads and some killer dancing in the car. We are pretty exhausted from another long day. We won’t be getting much sleep (again) because we are leaving tomorrow morning at 7:30am for a 3-hour road trip to Winston-Salem, NC to visit the Reynolds headquarters. That’s it for now. Time for some well-deserved sleep!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 2: Camp Trip

Sup dudes! (or as Yang would say “Soup Dudes”) We are currently hanging out at the FLOC office getting started on some projects… sort of. We had a really long day of fun and excitement! It started out at the Food Lion getting some cereal and milk for breakfast. YUM! We met up with Justin and Bri at the FLOC office, and they brought us to some of the camps migrant workers live at during the summer. They had some crazy conditions. There are 200 to 300 workers that live in about 4 tiny buildings, each room having 10 or more people with not enough beds. Also, there are no windows in the rooms so we can only imagine how hot it gets. They have to share bathrooms that have pretty much no privacy and are not very clean (see pictures!) We heard a lot of sad stories from Justin and Bri about the living conditions the migrants face (see videos.) Not only are the living conditions horrible, but there is absolutely nothing social to do around the camp sites.

After visiting the camps, we met up with some other awesome organizations. Student Action with Farm workers (SAF) first talked to us about some fun and unique ways they spread awareness to the public. For example, they use theater to teach different issues migrant workers are facing (they had us do some “sculpting” theater which was very interesting!) We next heard from the North Carolina Farm Worker Health Project (NCFWHP) and how they are fighting to help migrants have more access to health care.

So basically we learned A LOT of new stuff today. After the presentations, we headed to Cuban Revolution for some dinner. It was delicious, and they had some pretty sweet paintings. OH yeah, they also had EVERY "world's best" sandwich! CONGRATULATIONS! Logan got a free sandwich too! So that brings us back here to the FLOC office… we are about to wrap it up now so we will hit you back tomorrow :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 1: Dunzo

It’s about 1am Tuesday right now. We just got back to the house and we are pretty exhausted. We’re happy to have a place to sleep and thankful to Justin from FLOC for providing it. The day began around 8am with us meeting at FLOC to have a warm breakfast and chat with members of the organization. We spent the proceeding hours getting educated on not only the history of the organization but where they hope to be in the future. Lunch was held at the one-and-only BOJANGLES, and let’s just say it was bojangley. We took some time after our fabulous meal to do some brainstorming and come up with some great ideas that we could present to Justin and other members of FLOC.
After we presented our ideas and formulated an action plan for the week we got to choose what we would like to do for the rest of the evening. We decided to go back to Bojangles. Alright, that was a joke. We actually decided to head to Wilmington and check out the ocean and grab a bite to eat. It was a bit chilly out but still awesome to be by the water and under the stars. King Neptune’s provided us with a great meal and entertainment, and by entertainment I mean the fact that we got excited about a little toy train that circled around the ceiling. After dinner we attempted to visit the Juggling Gypsy, a local entertainment establishment. It got weird. We left. The evening ended on a high note when we found The Soapbox, quite possibly the coolest establishment ever. We played some games, chatted with the locals, and loved the idea that in the back people we’re doing their laundry. Literally.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Road Trip

Hey everyone! This is the first entry for the Kelley School Alternative Winter Break program’s trip to Mt. Olive, NC to work with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, or FLOC. FLOC is both a social movement and a labor union whose main focus is on migrant workers in the agricultural industry; however, it is FLOC's mission to fight for full justice for those who have been marginalized and exploited for the benefit of others (to find out more about FLOC check out their website here.) There are six of us on the trip: Logan, Dawood, Nicole, Yang, Jenny, and me (Jon).

We are all pretty worn out right now. We left Bloomington around 8:30 this morning and just got into town about an hour ago. It was a solid 13-hour ride. The six of us and all of our bedding and suitcases were crammed into a Chevy Tahoe with a trunk that was barely deep enough to fit a case of water…awesome.

The car ride was pretty interesting. Lots of rolling mountains. In fact, I think that was all we saw in West Virginia. There was a yogurt eating contest between Logan and Dawood, a game or two of Fact or Crap, and an eclectic mix of music that played all the way from Bloomington to Mt. Olive.

Two of the FLOC members were kind enough to let us sleep at their apartments so that is where we will be staying for the week. We are starting around 9am with breakfast and orientation tomorrow. Then we will do some brainstorming about what projects we will be working on this week. We are all really excited for what’s in store but aren’t really sure what to expect yet. Well, looks like we are getting ready to go to sleep. Hopefully we will be able to check in with some pics, videos, and more details tomorrow!