Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Growing Relationships: SSC and Lake Apopka

This was not Linda Lee’s first visit to Seminole State College, but it may have been her most difficult. Former Lake Apopka farmworker and Memorial Quilt quilt-maker, Linda suffers from several illnesses related to her decades long exposure to pesticides. Despite feeling ill and exhausted, her body in more pain than usual, Linda still rose early and spoke to students about her personal experiences and loss in Apopka. Her power and dedication to her community is inspiring to us all.

Seminole State College in Altamonte Springs, FL is less than 10 miles from the east shore of Lake Apopka, and yet many students will complete their college years with no idea of the injustices occurring in their own backyards. This fact is what drives Linda Lee and our other educators to continue nurturing our relationship with Seminole State College.  Visiting a class a single time is not enough, but as we continue to present to classes, more and more students take the message to heart and share it with their peers and families. 

Social Justice often grows slowly and the seeds Linda Lee and all of us plant need tending.

Dale Slongwhite, author of Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food and friend to the Farmworker Association got the students engaged during her portion of the presentation. She asked students to bend over as if they were picking crops for one minute. This one minute may be a tiny fraction of their day, but when Dale asked them to imagine spending an entire workday in this position, many students groaned and rubbed their backs in response. This small movement connects them to the physical nature of farmwork and connects them in a small way to la lucha, the farmworker struggle. As we continue to tend the seeds we plant with our community partners, we are continuously thankful for the dedication of Linda Lee and the enthusiasm and engagement we get from students. 

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