East of Salinas
East of Salinas begins with 3rd grader José telling us what he wants to be when he grows up. His parents work from sun up to sun down in the heart of California”s “Steinbeck Country,“ the Salinas Valley. With little support available at home, José often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. In fourth grade his teacher told him if he worked hard he could have a different life. Oscar won a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. The day he earned his degree, he bought a car and drove home to the fields. He's been teaching ever since. José is Oscar's most gifted student. But how do you teach students like José who have no place to do their homework? How do you teach a kid who moves every few months? This is what Oscar is up against every day. Oscar not only teaches his students reading, math and science, he gives them access to a world beyond their reach.
But José was born in Mexico — and he's on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out over three years, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance — for José and the many millions of undocumented kids like him.