For the past 10 years, Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor has been taking his students on a field trip.
The trip happens on March 30, when campus is closed to observe CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez Day, which is fitting because the field trip is in ChÃ¡vezâ€™s honor.
While most Fresno State students took the day off, about 40 students in Kapoorâ€™s class boarded a bus and traveled to the La Paz Memorial site in Keene in Kern Countyâ€™s Tehachapi Mountains, 30 miles east of Bakersfield.
â€œNot many younger generations are aware of what [ChÃ¡vez] did for the uplifting for the workers,â€? said Kapoor, the founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Fresno State, and community activist. â€œHeâ€™s an honorary person who can bring such a change. His organizing skills that he used to organize the farm workers.â€?
ChÃ¡vez was born in Arizona; in 1970 he moved to Keene with his family. The field trip was free but students could make a donation to the La Paz Memorial site.
Fresno State student MayLee Vang said she learned a lot about ChÃ¡vez.
â€œIt was a pretty good experience,â€? Vang said. â€œWe learned about his life story and what his missions were.â€?
Unlike a traditional field trip, students got hands-on experience.
The students were broken up into two groups and did some yard work, took out weeds and worked around the garden at the memorial site, Kapoor said.
â€œWe helped with landscape around the CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez Memorial,â€? Vang said. â€œCleaning took a lot of effort.â€?
Marisela Lara also got to experience what farm workers went through.
â€œIt was a real privilege,â€? said Lara, who made her second trip to the memorial. â€œThe farm workers worked for many hours. It was a real learning experience. It makes you more appreciative for the things that he did.â€?
Vang and Lara both agreed that what they learned at the memorial site will live with them forever and that they will share stories with their families and friends.
â€œI came home and told my family what I learned and how I learned to be more appreciative of ChÃ¡vezâ€™s hard work,â€? Vang said.