“Going through the center and seeing those little kids I saw my brother, I saw my two sisters, I saw myself – all present in the form of these young souls.”
– Misael Rangel
On Friday, July 22, our Head Start Center in Parksley, Virginia, hosted a visit by the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association’s Summer Internship Class of 2016. The visit was the culmination of a seven-week paid summer internship in Washington, DC, for Adilenne (Adi) Villanueva from Inspire Development Center, currently attending Washington State University; Luis Aguilar from Redlands Christian Migrant Association, currently attending the University of South Florida; Griselda Tule-Aguirre from Telamon Corporation, recently graduated from Michigan State University; and Misael Rangel from our very own East Coast Migrant Head Start Project program, currently attending the University of Central Florida.
Adi, Luis, Griselda and Misael had been selected for their summer internships based upon their exceptional accomplishments at their respective colleges and based upon the fact that each had attended a Migrant Head Start program as a young child. The three-hour trip to the Virginia Eastern Shore was a chance for them to re-live for a day their experiences in the Head Start program.
We were greeted upon our arrival by Lynn Bowen, the Head Start Administrator for the Virginia Eastern Region, and Rhonda Strand, the Early Childhood Education and Disabilities Specialist for the region. Lynn and Rhonda shared information on the services delivered to farmworker families on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before LaShundra Weeks, our Parksley Center Director, led us on a tour of the Parksley classrooms.
Our first stop was in the infant and toddler classroom. Often, infants and toddlers are reluctant to warmly welcome new faces in their classroom, but our youngest children at the Parksley Center knew they were among special friends on Friday. Adi, Luis, Griselda and Misael were greeted with nothing but smiles and hugs.
From the infant and toddler classroom we transitioned to the young toddler classroom where a lunch of grilled cheese (whole wheat bread!), tomato soup, and fresh blueberries was being served. I was pleased to see my young friend, Jovanni, enjoying his lunch. Jovanni’s mother, Meiby, is on the Virginia Eastern Shore from Immokalee, Florida, (via St. Helena Island, South Carolina) for the tomato harvest. Meiby recently had her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application approved through the help and support of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project and it was so nice to her son’s smiling face.
We completed our center tour by hanging out with the preschool children and their teachers. There, the preschool children showed off their counting abilities to the summer interns, as well as their mastery of animal sounds and their mastery of the sound of laughter. The classroom filled up with children’s laughter.
Following the center visit, Family Community Partnership Specialist, Lisa Fernandez, brought the summer interns to two different farmworker labor camps. This was a more sobering experience for the summer interns. We had the opportunity to see the extremely difficult living conditions the families will experience during their four-month stay on the Virginia Eastern Shore.
“As we walked through the camps where these families lived, I remembered my own little trailer,” Misael Rangel observed. “It was like looking at a video of my own life years ago. It’s difficult for our families to overcome these obstacles and I thank God for the people that continue to protect and nurture my little brothers and sisters.”
There are lots of wonderful people to thank for protecting and nurturing Misael’s “little brothers and sisters” at the Parksley center. In fact, they are too many to mention, but here they are anyway: Genee Drummond, Candice Logan, Jose Ramos-Enriquez, Patricia Auguilar-Rios, Jasmine Francis, Jennifer Holderfield, Erica Larreinaga-Padilla, Esther Martinez Enriquez, Paloma Vazquez Quintero, Mildre Velasquez Bartolon, Flor de la Cruz Mendoza, Meliza, Ledesma, Vernice Pantaleon, Cymekia Chandler, Tayshia Daugherty, Susie Dickerson, Jeremiah Dorsey, Chelsea Rew, Shawsan Bailey, Genima Collins, Martha Collins, Arnette Gaskins, Mike Balance, Jennifer Santiago, Kayona Hernandez, Hector Velez, Brittany Pettit, Nichole Satchel, Patricia Bibbins, Barnette Holden, Linda Ames, Latoya Coston, and Celestine (a.k.a. Miss Tine) Hargis.
Thank you, all!