THROUGH the berries and broccoli on our plates, all of us are connected to the struggle for immigration reform. Following his service placement as a coordinator for Mentor253 through the Northwest Leadership Foundation, 2011 Krista Colleague Joe Martinez is now Global Advocate and Mexico Program Director for the United Farm Workers, and finding himself in a pivotal leadership role navigating this sensitive and complex issue.
Joe seeks to ensure that H2-A guestworkers working in the U.S. are protected by contracts governing wages, housing, and work hours. A typical day might find him monitoring international farmworker recruitment practices, meeting with the governor of the State of Michoacán, or talking to farmworkers about avoiding abuse. He thrives working independently, until he finds himself in a situation where other perspectives would be helpful.
That's why reconnecting and processing with Krista Colleagues during the 2014 Krista Foundation debriefing retreat was so meaningful for Joe. "At times you think you are alone, and it's hard to believe that someone would understand!" he says. Since he transitioned from his service placement there have been few opportunities to evaluate and assess next steps. "The last year and a half with the UFW, it has been harder to have that space to reflect, to ask myself, is this the path to follow, is it adding to my life?" Besides reaffirming the importance of shared reflection, the debriefing weekend helped Joe brush up on critical process skills like crossing cultures. "Although I am of Mexican descent, I never noticed how American I am until I worked in Mexico. I am not a Mexican from Mexico!"
Re-encountering Krista Foundation tools that focus on understanding one's own cultural lens in the context of multiple cultures is essential to Joe's work among senators, representatives, farm workers, and farm owners on both sides of the border. "I try to meet them where they are, and to bridge that gap so we can try to help one another." His long-term goal? "Comprehensive immigration reform that includes a better process for guest workers, and a path to citizenship."