Jan 28, 2020

Day tripping to honor César Chávez’s legacy

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 César Chávez Day, which is fitting because the field trip is in Chávez’s honor.

While most Fresno State students took the day off, about 40 students in Kapoor’s class boarded a bus and traveled to the La Paz Memorial site in Keene in Kern County’s Tehachapi Mountains, 30 miles east of Bakersfield.

“Not many younger generations are aware of what [Chávez] did for the uplifting for the workers,� said Kapoor, the founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Fresno State, and community activist. “He’s an honorary person who can bring such a change. His organizing skills that he used to organize the farm workers.�

Chávez 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 Chávez.

“It was a pretty good experience,� Vang said. “We learned about his life story and what his missions were.�

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.

“We helped with landscape around the César Chávez Memorial,� Vang said. “Cleaning took a lot of effort.�

Marisela Lara also got to experience what farm workers went through.

“It was a real privilege,� said Lara, who made her second trip to the memorial. “The farm workers worked for many hours. It was a real learning experience. It makes you more appreciative for the things that he did.�

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.

“I came home and told my family what I learned and how I learned to be more appreciative of Chávez’s hard work,� Vang said.

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