By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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They think we can't understand what they're saying about us.
But we do, say the teenagers in “Who We Are,” the documentary they made about life as a young migrant farmworker.
The short film, begun at the Reel Grrls studio in Seattle, introduces young Washingtonians who pick berries, apples and flowers — not on a fun outing but to help their families make ends meet.
Three of the five girls who made “Who We Are” will come from Skagit County to Port Angeles and Forks this week.
Ana Mendoza, Lucia Garcia and Teresa Santos, all 16, will show the documentary and invite viewers into discussions afterward at three events:
-- On Thursday at 12:35 p.m., “Who We Are” will screen in the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.
The filmmakers also will introduce their new book, Dream Fields: A Peek into the Lives of Migrant Youth, and hold a discussion as part of the free, public Studium Generale weekly program at the college.
-- On Thursday at 5 p.m., the filmmakers will show “Who We Are” at the Forks High School Commons, 261 Spartan Ave., and talk about it during the school's Youth Forum.
-- On Friday at 7 p.m., “Who We Are” plus “The Harvest,” a movie that documents the lives of three other migrant children as they travel with their families from the Texas onion harvest to Michigan's apple orchards to Florida's tomato fields, will screen at Maier Hall at Peninsula College.
A discussion also will be part of this Magic of Cinema series presentation.
Admission is $5 for the general public and free for students.
“Who We Are” is only about 10 minutes long, but it is punctuated with questions for the young migrants: What assumptions do people make about you? What obstacles have you faced? What are your dreams?
The young people talk about how their parents came from Mexico in hopes of giving their children a brighter future.
They talk about rising at 4 a.m. in summertime to work long days in the vineyards, about taking care of their younger siblings at home — and about wanting to grow up and be someone, someone who can make change for the better.
Santos wants to study psychology and be a counselor; Garcia wants to be a teacher, to help immigrant students; and another of the filmmakers, Martha Morales, is an athlete who dreams of going to Harvard.
Janice Blackmore, the young filmmakers' adviser at LaVenture and Mount Baker middle schools in Mount Vernon, will come to Port Angeles and Forks for this week's screenings.
With these events, she said, the girls hope to educate fellow students, and the whole community, about what it means to be a young migrant.
“Children often start working in the fields at the age of 6 or 7,” Blackmore said.
They start out working summers, and some, when they reach middle and high school, work during the school year, too.
In “Who We Are,” the girls conducted interviews with other young farmworkers, boys and girls who have moved five, six, even eight times since coming to the United States.
Yet the message in this film is a hopeful one. The teenagers make it clear that they know how to work hard and how to work together.
The migrant workers' life is “very difficult,” Blackmore said, “but also, there are many important lessons that they have learned. It has made them stronger people with a stronger sense of community.”
For more information about this week's presentations of “Who We Are” and other public events on campus, visit the Peninsula College page on Facebook or www.PenCol.edu.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.