Scotty Fleming

For Scotty Fleming ’10, the Andover Public Service Fellowship was just the support he needed to get his idea off the ground. Fleming used the fellowship, which he won last spring, to spend the last three weeks of this summer in Guatemala. Fleming worked on a project to collect stories from local plantation workers and plans to use these interviews as background information for other projects designed to help impoverished people living in Guatemala. According to the Phillips Academy website, the Public Service Fellowship “provides a Phillips Academy student with the opportunity to combine academic research with hands-on involvement in a local, state or national public service organization.” In the summer of 2008, Fleming worked with Proyecto Linguistico, a Non-Governmental Organization in Guatemala that hires unemployed teachers and attracts students from around the world who seek to learn Spanish. Fleming returned to Guatemala with the Public Service Fellowship this summer and used his time there to interview plantation workers who had rebelled against the plantation owners. “In the 1970’s and 1980’s, plantation owners stopped paying groups of workers,” said Fleming. “These people work at the coffee fields from six in the morning to five at night, and then go back to their homes and tend to subsistence farms, and receive no wages.” According to Fleming, the workers continue to toil for no pay up until the point of starvation, at which time they unionize and fight for their independence. “Union groups fought in different ways,” said Fleming. “One group took the plantation owner hostage, many groups get Amnesty International involved, some even get funding from the Catholic Church to buy their own land. There’s one group who are actually suing their plantation owner.” “My project was to get the stories of these plantation workers,” said Fleming. Fleming will use the information he collected to help with a number of other projects. “I’m working towards developing an independent project to translate the interviews, do more research, develop a paper to give to Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco, and do a presentation on campus and in Utah,” said Fleming, a Utah native. “I am also going to use the information to start a fundraising campaign to fund a library at the NGO based on the stories of the plantation workers,” he said. According to Fleming, the Proyecto Linguistico Quetzaletco is trying to build a library with computer access for kids they can learn research how to protest laws. Fleming also found out how the unions are doing now that they have separated from the plantation owners. “I asked how the different labor groups established their independence, as well as how they are functioning and what their needs are,” said Fleming. “Some said they need water, others said unity, and almost all said they are looking for their own land to farm.” Fleming said that some of these labor groups are forced to work as day laborers, earning as little as 30 quetzals ($3.60) per day. “These workers can’t survive on day laborer wages,” said Fleming. Fleming received $500 from the fellowship to fund his research in Guatemala. “The Fellowship has a definite aspect of doing something. With my project there was studying, but there was the ultimate focus of inciting action,” said Fleming.