In The Shadows Of The Slaughter House

KC Currents
10:05 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Children Of Immigrant Meatpackers Find Opportunities In Rural Areas

Binh Hua (left) and My Nguyen (right), both 18, are best friends, whose Vietnamese parents work at the Tyson beef plant. They finished high school in three years and are hoping to have associate degrees by next year.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

For many generations, meatpacking plants in Kansas City were a place where immigrants found a foothold in U.S. society. They worked difficult and dangerous jobs in those slaughterhouses, often with the hopes of securing a better future for their children.

In recent decades, meatpacking plants have continued to employ immigrants and refugees. But the plants have moved out of urban areas, and into rural towns, where there’s less of a support system for those immigrants and their children.

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Harvest Public Media
8:37 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Children Of Meatpackers Dream Big, Cultivate Opportunity

Binh Hua (left) and My Nguyen, both 18, work in the Garden City Community College chemistry lab. The two best friends graduated from high school in three years and after community college, plan to go on to universities.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

Not yet 9 a.m. on a warm fall day, freshmen Binh Hua and My Nguyen are in protective goggles, long hair pulled back, ready for their chemistry class in a Garden City Community College lab.

The teacher calls the class to order, calling the students “Busters,” short for “Broncbusters,” the college’s mascot and a reminder of this old West town’s history of raising cattle.

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Harvest Public Media
7:44 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Garden City, Kan. Considered Model Of Success For Immigrant Influx

Two students in a “newcomer” class at Florence Wilson Elementary School in Garden City, Kan.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Thome puts 125,000 miles a year on this car, picking up boxes from the food pantry, finding a mattress for a newcomer, delivering a sick soul to a doctor’s appointment. All the while, she fields emergency calls on her flip phone, responding to her mission to serve the poor of Garden City, out on the plains of southwest Kansas.

This day, Thome is teaching her teen parenting class at the alternative high school.

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Harvest Public Media
8:56 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Schools Become The Safety-Net For Immigrants In Rural Missouri

At the primary school in rural Noel, Mo., teachers and staff function as educators about as often as they do de facto social workers.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

It’s almost 9 a.m., and Noel Primary School teacher Erin McPherson is helping a group of Spanish-speaking students complete English language exercises. But it’s tough going.

One student in a bright blue T-shirt – 9-year-old Isac Martinez – has not yet picked up his pencil. He’s clearly sick. When McPherson asks him what’s wrong, Isac’s small voice is barely audible in between coughs. He says he threw up four times last night but did not go to a doctor.

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