After several months of hard work, two Marshalltown High School (MHS) students qualified for the National Day of National History (NHD) competition with their project “La Huelga: A Struggle That Brings Rights to Farmers”.
Yessenia Alvarez Zamora and Leticia Herrera, two Extended Learning Program (XLP) students, presented their project during the NHD personal state competition at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on April 25th. As a result of their performance, they will present their project at a state competition to be held virtually from June 12-16.
The 2022 NHD theme was “Debate and Diplomacy,” and Alvarez Zamora and Herrera’s project focused on the Delano Grape Strike in California in 1965. Alvarez Zamora said she had previously researched the topic and believes it would fit in well. in the subject of NHD. Herrera agreed.
“I thought it would be very appropriate for the topic, simply because it was a really long and arduous process of discussion and turmoil between communities and between leaders of both ends,” Alvarez Zamora said.
The two juniors began researching the topic and making their presentation before the start of the semester, and after going through a virtual regional competition, they moved on to the statement. Herrera said they “didn’t think much” about state competition, just hoping to win an award in their category, which is agriculture and labor.
“We did not have high hopes. I know it’s a little worse, but we didn’t really think we’d get this far, “Herrera said.
Although their expectations may have been low, they were still glad to be there and see all the other student projects from across the state, and despite initial expectations, they ended up in first place.
“There were a lot of great projects and we enjoyed learning about the topics just by glancing at them,” Alvarez Zamora said. “We did not expect to win at all, but we put a lot of effort into it. So we were still hopeful and very happy when we got it. ”
They are now working on perfecting their project before handing it over, looking for better resources and taking full advantage of the opportunity given to them. They are both excited to learn from their fellow contestants and from their experience this year so we can hopefully be able to participate again next year and have the same or even better results.
“The nationals are really big. If we succeeded, I know there are a bunch of projects that are amazing. It could be better than us. It could be right for us. They could be roughly our level, who knows? But I am alone, I am thrilled to go to the state championship. I think it’s amazing. we didn’t think we would get this far, and now we have come this far, ”Herrera said.
The Delano grape strike has some significance for Alvarez Zamora and Herrera because it greatly affected immigrant farm workers, and the two of them wanted to raise awareness of the struggles they experienced.
Workers went on strike to get higher pay and better treatment, and Alvarez Zamora said that without the debates and struggles these individuals went through, improvement would never have been possible.
“My father, he actually worked in California with grapes, not during the (strike), but he worked there, and even then he didn’t have the best rights. “Even after all this, he didn’t really have the best rights,” Herrera said. “I didn’t even know about it, and my father barely knew anything about it. So, if we really bring that to light, it could have some kind of impact. ”
Alvarez Zamora thought it was really up to the younger generations to continue to improve the rights of agricultural workers, and she thought going to the state championships and presenting was a step in the right direction.
“This was a very big and influential event in history and I think the whole process did what it could. And now it is only up to the newer generations to show proof to the agricultural workforce, to the world: “This has happened and this is how we need to continue to fix it,” she said. “Conditions are still not ideal for agricultural workers, but I think it’s important that we talk about how far we’ve come and strive for more in the future.”
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or [email protected]