Alta Gracia Fan Spotlight!

1.10.2012

Guest blog post from Penn State graduate student and a proud Common Threads team member! A spotlight on one of our Alta Gracia supporters.

Penn State Student In Strength to Love, written by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, King remarks,

“We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.... When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provided by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs, we are beholden to more than half the world.”

That list could go on and on today - precious minerals for computer processors coming from the conflict-ridden Congo. Shipped to China where factory workers produce iPhones and other technological devices.

For me, Alta Gracia is fascinating because it illustrates the potential good that can be accomplished by companies in a complex, global economy. Alta Gracia is a shining example of what a socially responsible company looks like - a factory whose workers are raving about working conditions and pay. An economic model that brings immense wealth to the local community. An honest and open connection between Dominican workers and American students.

Spending six years growing up in Northern China exposed me to the plight of countless factory workers and other workers who were victims of the vicious cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Interning in the CSR department of a large shoe factory in Southern China two summers ago gave me direct experience with factory workers. The life-changing experience helped me connect with workers and understand complex issues of factory work on a personally meaningful level. I am eternally grateful to my countless friends and coworkers that invited me into the way of life there. They have encouraged me to dedicate myself fully to the race of life, particularly to my collegiate education.

This spring, I will graduate wih a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations at Penn State University. My vision is to one day start a social business (see Muhammad Yunus) whose profit is solely dedicated to lifting people out of poverty. I see myself returning to China or another Asian country, as I am familiar with the culture, but am excited to move anywhere to start a social business. What better model of this idea than Alta Gracia?

Interning with Alta Gracia has helped me learn how to cast a vision and raise up a movement. Additionally, it has inspired me to cling fast to my vision of starting a social business. Educating the Penn State community has helped me understand just how difficult the fight for worker rights is, as well as how many actors are content with the status quo. As the other interns surely can attest, the idea of trade justice (or caring about what goes into the products we buy) is a young and foreign idea to most (if not all) of our peers.

But I am not dismayed beyond finding agency in the problem. At times, the adversity further motivates me to work for factory workers around the world. In the end, the reward of seeing just one additional individual receive a fair wage and chance to work far outweighs my own sacrifice in time and energy. May we all as activists seek a similar reward, and never forget that truth and justice are on our side.

 

For opportunities to get more involved with the Alta Gracia check out: https://altagraciaapparel.com/get-involved   

Like us on Facebook. Tag us and post photos of you and your friends sporting your Alta Gracia gear. Show your campus bookstore some love and post those photos on their page too.

Follow us on Twitter. Tweet about us, retweet us, and of course don’t forget to send some shout outs to your campus bookstore for carrying Alta Gracia.

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