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Latino students in Owatonna talk of their lives and plans

Jesus Torres finished college and came back to Owatonna to work full time.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Jesus Torres finished college and came back to Owatonna to work full time.

This week, Rural Minnesota: A Generation at the Crossroads is focusing on young immigrants in several areas of the state.

Jesus Torres, 25, was born in Mexico.  His family moved to Owatonna, Minn., when he was 15. He attended an after-school program for Latino high-school students at Centro Campesino, where he first became interested in being a community organizer. 

Centro Campesino, or “Farmworker Center,” is a member-based nonprofit organization, started in 1998 by a group of Latino migrant workers hoping to improve the lives of agricultural workers and their families through “community organizing, education and advocacy.”

After doing an internship at “Centro,” Torres finished college and came back to Owatonna to work full time in the organization. One of his duties is to facilitate the very program that gave him his start a decade ago.

Some of the students at Centro Campesino were born in the United States, but all of their parents are immigrants.
MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Some of the students at Centro Campesino were born in the United States, but all of their parents are immigrants.

I visited the after-school group recently and asked them to speak about Centro Campesino, about life in Owatonna and about their plans for the future.  Some of the students in the program were born in the United States, but all of their parents are immigrants and their families rely on the staff and programs of Centro to help them deal with the practical aspects of living, working and raising a family in southern Minnesota.

Centro Campesino offers a variety of programs and services, but my video report focuses on efforts involving young people with regard to community organizing and service and college readiness.

Saturday: Mapping the rural youth project’s progress.

Related:
Interactive map: Where are the immigrant youth in rural Minnesota?

Help us tell the stories of immigrant youth in rural Minnesota

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Young Somali immigrant misses certain foods and constant sun, but appreciates life in diverse Pelican Rapids

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