Recap: Youth Heritage Summit California

Beginning in January of 2016 we were hard at work gearing up for the summer! And in July our work became a reality as we held "Youth Heritage Summit California," (YHSCA) a high school summer program at Cesar E. Chavez National Monument (located on a larger area known as La Paz). Through this program, we were able to give high school students from Central and Southern California a multi-day, immersive experience designed to connect them with cultural heritage professionals and advocates by engaging the students with the life and work of Cesar E. Chavez and the Farmworker Movement. 

day 1

Participants began the summit with a welcome by the We Are the Next team, Superintendent Ruben Andrade of Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, and Paul F. Chavez, son of Cesar E. Chavez and President and Chairman of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Students joined in with Paul Chavez to walk through exhibit housed within the monument's visitor center and its surrounding area, and then they broke into peer groups to embark on a scavenger hunt through which they discovered the many facets of the monument. After a full afternoon of learning and exploration, the group headed into the monument where we had musical group Trio Ellas perform in order to get YHSCA off to a solid start.

Day 2

The following day, participants set out to visit several sites affiliated with the Farmworker Movement. Our group trekked throughout the Central Valley paying visits to the Forty Acres, Filipino Community Hall, and the Delano Centennial Mural in Delano, as well as Radio Campesina and historic Sunset Labor Camp in Bakersfield. At each location, leaders from the Farmworker Movement shared their stories and interpretation. 

day 3

Day three was a day of reflection and creation. The students began their day with a hike along the same path Cesar E. Chavez traveled on his morning meditations, led by Fernando Chavez, Cesar's grandson who lives at La Paz. Many of the students reported that this was their favorite part of the summit, and that (quite literally) walking in Cesar's footsteps was a powerful experience for them. After the hike, participants got into small groups where they collaborated in order to produce projects relating to one of three topics: Social Media, Mapping Historic Sites, and Graphic Design/Printmaking.  We were very fortunate to have Holly Richards of Ebey's Landing leading the Social Media project, Historypin representatives to work with our students on the mapping project, and visitors from Self Help Graphics who brought their Barrio Mobile Art Studio to instruct their group and help them complete personalized printmaking projects! At the end of our last day we had the team behind the powerful video project, Song for Cesar, come out and perform for the group.

My favorite moment of YHSCA was being able to go on Cesar’s hike and walk in his footsteps
— Student participant

day 4

Our students created some amazing projects in the small amount of time provided for them, and we were incredibly proud and impressed to see them come to fruition at the Town Hall on the last day of YHSCA. Families of participants traveled out to Cesar E. Chavez National Monument to attend the Town Hall, where students shared their creations and their reflections on the experience of the summit. Our distinguished panel was there to see the presentations and provide individual feedback for the students: Paul F. Chavez, President and Chairman of the Cesar Chavez Foundation / Julianne Polanco, California State Historic Preservation Officer / David Louter, Cultural Resources Program Chief for the National Park Service / Ruben Andrade, Superintendent of Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.

This was a first for us as an organization, hosting a multi-day, destination learning event. It was filled with excitement and anticipation, learning experiences, and formed bonds we are so grateful to have moving forward. We would like to sincerely thank your sponsors and generous donors who made this event possible as they have helped us grow and develop as an organization, but more so we would like to thank them for making such an impact in the lives of the students who participated. 

For more information on this program, please visit the program page on our website or download the summary booklet by clicking here

If you enjoyed hearing about the Youth Heritage Summit program, and would like to support We Are the Next so we can create more exciting opportunities like this for students, please make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here:


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