Saturday, June 25, 2016

A New Life

Half a block away, Quintard Hall, an old dorm in need of serious updating, is being renovated. Work began as soon as students left, and it has proceeded with what appears to me to be an impressive pace. 

Each day, either in the morning or at lunch, I see workers gathering for a break or meal, and I am struck by who many appear to be: immigrants from south of the border. I know that many farming and construction trades depend on such laborers, and I have seen the effects of their contributions from afar (when many were essentially rescued from inhumane conditions, having been brought to Shelbyville, Tennessee by a Tyson Chicken plant) and up close (when my niece worked with a great team of men on an herb farm). She told me stories of their travel over three-day holiday weekends all the way to Mexico just to see their wives and children for a few hours. She told me how hard they worked, how much they knew about plants and farming, how supportive they were of each other, how grateful they were for good employment.

When I see the men working to bring Quintard into this century, I can't help thinking about what might happen to them in the current political climate. Are they accosted on their way to or from home? Do folks question their legitimacy? Are they accused of "stealing" someone else's jobs? Are their families here, legal, and whole? I don't know the answers to these questions, of course.

But I can say this: they seem productive and cheerful and skillful. I can't wait to see the finished product.

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