Cornell University

Credit Internship Program

119 Ives Hall, 607-255-2266

Student Profile

Christian Zamarron, BS '11

Solidarity Center, Mexico City

Spring 2010

I chose to work with the Solidarity Center in Mexico City for a variety of reasons: I wanted to experience what it felt like to live in my parents’ home country, I wanted to improve my Spanish, I wanted to gain real skills that would help me in the future, I wanted to learn about the labor movement in Mexico, but most importantly I wanted to do work that would change people’s lives for the better.

As a strategic researcher for the Solidarity Center, I conducted “undercover” investigations, research, and strategic analyses of Mexican-owned operations and Multi-National Corporations. I also frequently wrote, updated, and translated reports on Mexican labor struggles that were used in the planning of union campaigns across the globe and which were also used to garner support from international unions. For the reports, I interviewed various workers and Mexican labor leaders and attended many protests, rallies, marches and hunger strikes. Especially in a country where labor violations are so common and outright, it is not until one witnesses these worker mobilizations and feels their anger and frustration that one can even begin to understand what they go through just to provide for their basic necessities and have their basic human rights respected.

I also participated in and provided support for the organizing efforts of call center workers in Mexico City. I met and became friends with many young workers there who were organizing themselves despite the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles put in place by both the company and the Mexican government. Seeing their youthfulness, their energy and their strong will to fight despite the battle being long and drawn-out was inspiring and invigorating. I left Mexico well aware that the struggle for even basic worker’s rights is far from over, but hopeful that the situation could soon change through the efforts and dedication of people such as my fellow organizers.

In addition to doing this great work, I was able to negotiate an “extended spring break” so that I could visit the family I had in Zacatecas, Mexico and travel throughout southern Mexico. My 18 day, self planned out adventure (which was pretty inexpensive due to the strong dollar/weak peso, cheap bus rides, and hostels) took me through places like the beach and downtown areas of Cancun, Isla de Las Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, the anient ruins of Chichen Itza and Palenque, the Cenotes de Cozuma, Agua Azul and Misol-Ha of Chiapas, the mountain villages of Oaxaca, and the beach of Puerto Escondido, just to name a few. Needless to say, my time in Mexico was an adventure.

Special thanks to Professor Lois Gray and the Edward Gray Memorial Credit Internship Award—taking a credit internship abroad in the labor movement would not have been possible without your generous support and commitment to encouraging participation in the movement for social and economic justice. I would also like to give thanks to Brigid Beachler who made the internship work, my co-workers and friends in Mexico City who made my time spent there more enjoyable, and a special thank you to Professor Daniel—your life work, your dedication to the labor movement and your dedication to the credit internship program is what allowed and will continue to allow students like me opportunities to understand and fight for the working people. You will be missed Professor Daniel, but your legacy has been left.

- Christian Zamarron, BS '11