Danielle Clegg—Telling Stories Unheard

Senior Project: A story about H-2A visa workers from Mexico in Idaho

Communications: News/Journalism Emphasis

Project—Temporaries Article

Growing up on a little farm two hours away in Gem Valley, Idaho, I have always seen Mexicans working the fields. I’ve always heard the gibberish of Spanish spewing from them at high speeds and quickly followed with laughs. I’ve always watched them stand to the side in group outings with smiles and nods, usually never drawing attention or disagreeing. I’ve seen them make some of the most fantastic food, and quite frankly, have yet to taste anything like the goat they cooked for 3 days for a fiesta my family attended. Yet, I have always looked over their stories. I never questioned where they came from or how they got to the U.S. I never wondered what they left behind until I learned how to dissect the spew of Spanish and listened to one or two of them.

My senior project consists of a few stories of individuals who give up their lives in their home country to work in the potatoes for 3-9 months each year. Sacrificing family, comfort, weather, and language, these people come to the U.S. on the H2A visa year after year to provide a living in Mexico for a family they left behind. Most of these individuals will never receive a green card even though they’ll spend the majority of their lives living and working on American soil.

I wanted to give voice to these individuals whom I have interviewed, interacted with, laughed with, and even shared a meal with. I spent time working with them in the potatoes to better gain perspective of what they do in the tundra of Southeastern Idaho. 

Over the past few years of studying here, I have learned to tell the stories of people and to work hard for something I care about, both of which are encompassed in this project. Their stories changed my life as I learned more about something usually untold. I spent several hours interviewing, working with, and spending time with these individuals and then writing about it.