June 01, 2009
Oregon Law Center Hillsboro
Oregon Law Center, Hillsboro, OR
My PILP stipend allowed me to spend my summer working for the Oregon Law Center’s (OLC) Hillsboro office. OLC’s Hillsboro office is dedicated to working with indigenous farmworkers on legal issues ranging from wage claims to landlord/tenant law.
My work this summer affirmed my desire to pursue a career in public interest law in a variety of ways. One of the most rewarding experiences that I had was doing weekly outreach at farm labor camps. At the camps, we discussed issues important to workers—for example, problems with pesticides, field sanitation, housing conditions, and wage issues. While I visited a number of camps over the course of the summer, I was able to return to four camps. On return visits, workers recognized my outreach team, and we could tell that they began to trust us more and more. It was truly incredible to be able to take the time to talk to people one-on-one about their concerns and to build relationships with people.
Weekly outreach greatly enriched my experience in the office, as the issues that I was able to research and discuss with attorneys were often brought about by a team’s outreach efforts. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity to improve my research and writing skills while working on projects that I felt connected to.
I was also given the incredible opportunity to work closely with OLC’s Project Against Sexual Assault of Indigenous Farmworkers. For the project, I developed a brochure for sexual assault community advocates about the problems facing indigenous farmworkers with regard to sexual assault in the workplace and about our services. One particularly memorable activity was the chance to participate in the effort to inform the indigenous farmworker community about the services provided by the project. Because many indigenous languages have no commonly understood written form, radio is a critical means of outreach to the community. The Project Against Sexual Assault of Indigenous Farmworkers creates “sociodramas” targeted toward radio listeners on topics like sexual harassment and assault. This summer I was able to play a small role in one of the programs that will reach farmworkers around the state over the radio, which was incredibly fun and rewarding.
Overall, I had an extraordinary experience at OLC. I wouldn’t have had this experience had I not received a PILP stipend, and so I am entirely grateful to both OLC and PILP for this opportunity.