Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Squash. Green beans. People consume these fruits and vegetables almost every day, yet many often fail to consider the workers who harvest these delicacies but are unable to put food on their own tables.
Several organizations in the Hampton Roads community have stepped in to address this issue, including Dos Santos. A nonprofit, 100% volunteer-led organization, Dos Santos serves immigrant farm worker communities afflicted by corporate maltreatment on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Its name means “two saints” in Spanish, embracing a promise of Jesus as conveyed in the Bible: “Where two or more are gathered in my Name, There I will be also" (Matthew 18:20).
Members of the Norfolk Academy community support Dos Santos, a partnership spearheaded by Antonia Baudoin, a senior in the Batten Leadership Program Global Affairs Fellows program and a board member for the organization.
“Initially, I was nervous about Dos Santos," Antonia said. “I knew no one, and I was the only young volunteer present on a regular basis. However, I recognized that this was a perfect opportunity: it combined my ambition to create change in my community with my desire to help a marginalized group with whom I feel connected. We gather twice a month to eat, play games, and discuss how we can support their goals of learning English, accessing clean water and health care, and communicating with their families in Mexico."
A number of Antonia’s peers share her passion for the organization’s mission. On Sunday, October 16, a group of students taking Spanish at NA traveled to the Eastern Shore to distribute food to those in need. With their help, Dos Santos was able to provide nutritious meals to more than 150 families.
“Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for our Spanish learners to practice the language, but it allows students to meaningfully engage with migrant worker communities that have a very different experience in our Hampton Roads,” said Evan Mitchell, who teaches Spanish in the Middle and Upper schools. “Volunteering with Dos Santos gives them a front row seat to issues of immigration and workers’ rights that are global in nature."
In addition to these regular weekend outings for Dos Santos, students are working to spread awareness about and gain support for the organization and its mission. Students in Spanish 6 kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15 with a presentation for the Middle School during chapel, emphasizing why this period of reflection and celebration is so important for the school community to recognize. Various Upper School clubs followed suit, including UNITiD, which educated its members on the month’s significance, coupled with a feast and a special alumni visit from Corey Brooks '22, President of the club last school year. The Spanish Club also organized a mini Olympiad, where student and faculty teams participated in fun games, such as musical chairs, trivia, and mar y tierra. The event raised more than $100 for Dos Santos.
Although October 15 marked the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, these efforts demonstrate that respect and appreciation for the diverse cultures at Norfolk Academy and the surrounding community will remain at the forefront of students' core beliefs.
- This article was written by Annabelle Dyer '23, an intern in Norfolk Academy's communications department in 2022-23.