Putney Library hosts talk on 'The Most Costly Journey'

PUTNEY — Putney Public Library, at 55 Main Street, hosts “The Most Costly Journey: Migrant Farm Laborers, Asylum Seekers, and Immigration to Vermont,” on Tuesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to all.

Who are the immigrants in Vermont? How did they get here, and what do they do? What specific hardships do they face in Vermont?

Former immigration attorney, Susan Mills, and Kate Paarlberg-Kvam, executive director of the Community Asylum Seekers Project (CASP) will discuss the realities of immigrants in Vermont through the lens of 2023's Vermont Reads selection, The Most Costly Journey (El viaje más caro).

Vermont Reads brings communities together around stories, ideas, and activities that are important to the life of towns of all sizes. As a recipient of Vermont Humanities Council's Vermont Reads grant, Putney Public Library is circulating copies of The Most Costly Journey to encourage as many people as possible in the Putney community to read on the same topic.

The book is a nonfiction comics anthology, presenting stories of survival and healing told by Latin American migrant farmworkers and drawn by New England cartoonists as part of the El Viaje Más Caro project - a healthcare outreach effort aimed at addressing the overlooked mental health needs of these vulnerable immigrants.

Originally distributed to farm workers as individual Spanish language comic books, this collected edition brings the lives and voices - as well as the challenges and hardships - of these workers to an English-language audience, granting insight into the experiences and lives of the people vital to producing the food we eat.

Mills moved to Vermont a couple of years ago, after 20+ years as a Spanish-speaking attorney at an immigration law firm in Providence and the Boston area. She prepared asylum cases for thousands of immigrants from Central America with a focus on unaccompanied teenagers.

She attibutes her work, her family life with Central Americans, and her lesbian feminism and community activism over many years as inspirational for her 2022 novel, On the Wings of a Hummingbird.

Paarlberg-Kvam holds a doctorate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and is a former postdoctoral fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where she conducted research on gender, displacement, and postwar reconciliation efforts.

Prior to joining the staff team at the Community Asylum Seekers Project, she spent 10 years teaching courses in Latin American history, social movements, gender studies, and political economy. At CASP she serves as executive director and legal liaison, as well as working with a statewide coalition of asylum advocates to build a welcoming state.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates