A Summer at Friends of Farmworkers

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Jonathan Guevara, COL ’19

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern at Friends of Farmworkers in Philadelphia. Friends of Farmworkers is a nonprofit organization that provides free direct legal services, education, and advocacy to low-wage immigrant workers in Pennsylvania. I was engaged in many different tasks such as conducting Know Your Rights presentations in Spanish to members of immigrant communities in central and eastern Pennsylvania; assisting attorneys with client interviews, drafting of affidavits, and fact-gathering for labor trafficking immigration cases and other litigation-related tasks in wage and discrimination lawsuits.

I really enjoyed my time at Friends of Farmworkers because my experience there helped me understand the struggle that agricultural and other low-income workers have to deal with on a daily basis. Workers deal with many problems such as not getting paid, getting discriminated against, getting abused physically and verbally, being detained in unjust manners, and even labor/human trafficking.

I began to see the world from two perspectives. While listening to clients tell their stories, I sought to see situations from the perspective of workers, and from the perspective of the attorneys who were managing their cases. I was exposed to many legal processes such as class action lawsuits against employers, the processing of T-visas for victims of labor trafficking, and services for victims of “notario” fraud.

In one situation, a team of interns and I were responsible for submitting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint to the Department of Labor. I was in charge of contacting the client, creating an affidavit, and explaining the affidavit to my team. Something else that was emphasized regularly, and that I learned to value, was confidentiality. The concept of keeping information confidential seems very simple, but it’s of vital importance to a nonprofit organization handling very delicate information.
Outside of the office, I was able to go to new places in Pennsylvania that I had never visited before such as Kennett Square, Chambersburg, and Harrisburg. At Kennett Square, I met with community members/workers to discuss issues surrounding the unfair deportation raids occurring in the state of Pennsylvania. In Harrisburg, I attended a two-day Victims of Crime Act Grantee training session hosted by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. In Chambersburg, an attorney and I did outreach to workers and immigrants at a Guatemalan Mobile Consulate.
Thanks to the wonderful staff at Friends of Farmworkers, I was able to get a taste of how nonprofits provide legal services to vulnerable populations. My work didn’t feel like a job at all. I loved every moment that I spent talking to my people. I will never forget the memories I made at Friends of Farmworkers; those memories will continue to push me forward so that one day I can give back to the community that I came from. I am thankful for all of those who made my dream to intern at Friends of Farmworkers come true.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.