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‘Chasing the Harvest’ editor comes to BC

Christina Benavides, Reporter

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Bakersfield College students welcomed editor Gabriel Thompson, for the second discussion of his book, “Chasing the Harvest: Migrant Workers in California Agriculture.”

The book discussion started at 7:45 a.m. and was held at the Levan Center. Students were treated with a full breakfast before asking Thompson questions they had about the book. These questions initiated a conversation with the students and the author.

Thompson has experience with the subject of farm workers due to his previous years in the field of journalism. He mentioned that he briefly worked in the fields and it made him start thinking of the people he was working with.

Thompson has been to several other locations to promote his book, such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Delano, and Fresno. He decided to come to BC to start a conversation with students about agriculture production, and the people who work within agriculture.

Throughout his experience and work in the fields, he grew to understand the hardships they had to face. He added that many of the workers must work year after year, most with busy lives to come home to. Thompson also mentions that the portrayal of farm workers in newspapers is not entirely accurate compared to what he has witnessed firsthand.

“The motivation for this book, is that I hope through hearing people talk about their lives in detail, you get a real sense for them, and not a sense of them just as farm workers,” Thompson said.

He included that we all have lives outside of work, and his book allows him to show you more of the life from a farm worker’s point of view.

Thompson mentioned that it was not hard for him to get people to talk to him for his book. He revealed how he got farm workers to open up about their lives and who they are as people. The questions he asked influenced the answer he received, which was more intimate.

“Do you remember your grandparents? Or the house they grew up in? What smells do you remember?” Thompson said.

These were questions he asked the farm workers he interviewed, in hopes of learning more about them. He adds that these sorts of questions really change the atmosphere and get them thinking about their lives. Thompson was then able to put together a book with the words from the farm workers. Accuracy was important for the portrayal of the farm workers’ stories, and they were a part of the journey as much as Thompson was.

Students who attended this book discussion will be receiving vouchers from the bookstore for attending all three sessions. “Chasing the Harvest” is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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‘Chasing the Harvest’ editor comes to BC