Grade Level: 9-12
Students: Alison Lenci, Sarah Platt, Lauren Vargas
Teacher: Joyce Wong
Chapter: Fremont Unified District TA
Lifetime Achievement: César Chávez
“From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.” ~ César Chávez. Teamwork is the cooperation and collaboration of a group of people who work towards achieving a common goal. Success that benefits many people is best achieved by the efforts of a team. Through passion and dedication César Chávez united farm workers across the nation. With his confidence and persuasive public speaking skills, César Chávez fought to morally promote his philosophies of nonviolence and equality. Chávez put forth prodigious efforts in an attempt to legally secure the rights of migrant farm workers. Chávez’s passion and desire for legal change eventually led him to create the United Farm Workers Association (UFWA). After reading the autobiography The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, our English class became inspired to do something in our own community in an effort to benefit those less privileged, just as Chávez did.
Chávez could not have achieved all that he did in his life without the help and dedication of others. His efforts to improve the civil rights of Latino farm workers across America began in 1952 when Chávez joined the Community Service Organization (CSO), which focused its efforts primarily on civil rights. The organizers of the CSO committed themselves to helping Latino people with everyday problems such as gaining access to education in order to pass the citizenship test. CSO taught people that when they are supported, achievement is possible. Chávez was able to spark a new way of life for people in need. He salvaged the disappointing dreams that many faced during a time when cultural barriers were readily apparent. He instilled dignity in the hopeless and empowered them to continue his work. Chávez organized hunger strikes and nationwide agricultural boycotts in an immense effort to convince legislators to legally improve the rights of living and working conditions for farm workers across America. It was the collaboration of Chávez’s willpower that reminds us to also be part of the movement for change.
Like Chávez, Frederick Douglass responded with great nobility to the segregation and other such inequalities that were forced upon the African American culture in the United States through the 1900’s. From the moment he became a free man Douglass dedicated himself to emancipating other enslaved people. Reading and discussing in depth the harsh brutalities of those who have suffered, galvanized our English class to create the group we now call Project Love. In making Project Love successful, our entire class had to collaborate all of our ideas and work together as a team. The purpose of Project Love is to inspire, change, and help support the needy in our own community. Most recently, our class had the opportunity through Project Love to work with the organization Family Giving Tree. Together, we hosted a holiday party for kids in need. At the event, we stationed multiple booths which included face painting, games, and crafts. At one moment, a young Latino girl came to our craft booth to make a Christmas ornament. As we tied the string on her handmade snowflake ornament, we told her she could go home and hang it on her Christmas tree. With a look of hope in her eyes she responded “My family doesn’t have enough money for a tree this year, but my little sister and I made our own tree by taping together two sticks we found in our backyard.” Just with our brief interaction, this young girl changed our insights about the harsh realities that many kids face today. With strong ambition and the eminent teamwork of all fifty-seven Project Love members, we were able to support nearly 250 needy kids that day. In those few hours, we had the opportunity to experience bringing joy, laughter, and grant wishes to these kids. We felt proud in our ways of giving back.
Just like Project Love, Chávez began his fight small, but soon mobilized the community around him to fight a bigger problem. We believe that with hard work, cooperation, and dedication, Project Love can continue to grow and inspire the community around us to get involved. After our holiday event, the group has launched a monthly random act of kindness. Project Love will continue to centralize its efforts towards improving the every day lives of people by projecting love and moving it forward. It is the seemingly insignificant events in our every day lives that tend to influence us the most. Chávez has taught us that we too can make a difference in the lives of our peers.
In December 2007 the United States fell into a recession. Many people have lost their jobs and homes. With so many families still in need today, Chávez leaves a legacy that teaches us the power of teamwork. When like minded hearts come together, there is no stopping the power of change. We hope that as our English class continues forward with Project Love, we too can play a small part in keeping Chávez’s positive ideals alive. Becoming an agent of change is a powerful responsibility. We look forward to continuing the efforts at our high school to help motivate teenagers to get involved with giving back. That is the lesson Chávez taught us.