Last week, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Youth Heritage Summit (YHS), an event helping to connect high-school students to historic places and learn about important stories in US history. Designed through a partnership between We Are the Next, The National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Chavez Center, YHS aims to help students explore careers in fields such as heritage conservation, cultural studies, and public history, as well as build a passion for national parks. Over four days, we explored the places and stories related to Cesar Chavez National Monument and the Farmworker Movement through a variety of activities in California’s Central Valley. The Monument, where we stayed, was the site of La Paz, home base for Cesar Chavez’s activism work on behalf of farmworkers across the state and where the labor leader lived with his family.
An important part of the Summit was giving students the opportunity to visit places that played such a pivotal role in the development of the United Farmworkers Movement and Cesar Chavez’s legacy, while learning about the origins of activism in the farmworker movement that is very much still alive today. While traveling to local sites such as The Forty Acres, Filipino Community Hall, and Radio Campesino, students heard from and spoke to those who actively supported Cesar in his mission to help local farmworkers attain better rights and working conditions, and used these experiences to subsequently create collaborative projects. Students were able to choose from three different lenses through which to explore these community sites and stories: geo-mapping, social media, and graphic design. I was fortunate to represent Historypin in leading the geo-mapping project, where a handful of students worked to create themed-collections on our platform speaking to both the historic and current stories of farmworker communities.
A truly valuable and meaningful experience, our time during the Summit spoke to power of using stories connected to specific places as a means of educating youth on important social justice issues, and recording these learnings for the rest of the world to experience. For Historypin, this was a powerful example of incorporating our platform into a larger intergenerational experience, and working directly with students through the process of putting community stories on the map.
Below are some photos of our time at the Summit:
This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and i’m grateful for the opportunity to have walked in Cesar’s footsteps and help a great group of students put these important sites on the map using Historypin. You can view the collections the students created here.