FORT PLAIN — Kathleen Suits-Smith, of Fort Plain, wrote and published "Another Day, Otro Día," which depicts the lives of contemporary migrant workers in the dairy industry of New York state.
In response to poverty in their home countries, migrant workers arrive with false illusions about what life will be like in America. Working and living conditions are often harsh and there is little government oversight. Under the complete control of their bosses, migrant workers on dairy farms frequently live in dire isolation with little or no access to transportation, health services or opportunities to study English. In the novel, Suits-Smith reveals the difficult conditions under which many migrant workers live and work.
In addition to providing medical and educational advocacy, Suits-Smith has worked for nearly 10 years teaching English as a second language to migrant workers and their families. Information for this novel was gleaned from the stories shared by migrant workers, as well as the author’s observations.
In 2011, Suits-Smith visited families of migrants who had returned to Oaxaca, Mexico. While there, she was able to visit a mountain pueblo where indigenous Mexicans have lived for centuries. Many migrant workers come from such mountain villages and speak indigenous languages.
Suits-Smith is a retired teacher from Herkimer High School, where she taught for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of Owen D. Young Central School, Herkimer County Community College, Utica College and did graduate work through SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Cortland where she received advanced degrees. Suits-Smith has previously done free-lance writing for agricultural and independent living magazines and advertising. For two years she wrote a column for a local newspaper.
Suits-Smith is a lifelong resident of Herkimer County. She and her husband, Robert, raise a rare breed of cattle called Dexters, on farm land that has been in her family for generations.
She will read from her novel at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, in the Amsterdam Free Library.