A Day To Remember

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The LiveDifferent Academy students have spent two days working in Mexico in the raspberry fields as part of their shack experience. They got up at 4 am each day and worked long days alongside the locals picking berries and weeding the plants and then went home to their shack in the evening.  Keep reading to find out more about what they thought and felt and to hear some stories of a few of the amazing people they met along the way!

The field was an interesting experience.  I don’t want to imagine what it’s like getting up every single day and doing that kind of work.  After two days I was done.  My knees were toast.  I am truly thankful to have had my eyes opened to how hard people work for such little money to feed, clothe, and provide for their families. Unlike yesterday, today we were able to keep up the pace with the rest of the workers and got a chance to work in rows beside the locals.  When I think about how much time the locals spend in the fields, it’s overwhelming.  It’s cold here in the morning, gets very hot in the afternoon, and the work is very physical.  Yet somehow, they manage to get up and do it everyday with a smile.  I was unprepared for how welcoming the local fieldworkers would be.  They not only shared smiles among themselves but even with us.  They happily helped us learn our jobs and didn’t hesitate to share their lunch at mealtime.  Not only were the people I worked alongside determined, but they were so many other things as well.

We met many people today.  Here are a few of their stories:

I met Eva, she has four teenage daughters who are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old.   Today she was working with the youngest one.  They were sharing one pair of gloves between the two of them.  They were so sweet and  I ended up giving them my pair of gloves at the end of the day.  Eva asked me lots of questions and I told her that next year I will be going to university in Canada.  She got really excited when I told her this and started asking me what I wanted to study.  I told her that I wasn’t sure yet and she gave me a strange look and started listing all the possible choices: doctor, lawyer, construction worker etc.  I just smiled and nodded.  Wow.  That was a big “aha” moment for me.  It really put things in perspective and the contrast between my life and Eva’s life was unbearable.  Living in Canada I have the incredible, amazing opportunity to study whatever I want so that I can have a job to make money and be successful.  Eva is stuck working here to provide for her four children who are destined to a similar fate. I can only imagine her greatest wish is to see her kids go to school, get an education and build a life for themselves that is better than the one she is living.  I am no different than any of Eva’s daughters, yet I seem to have the world at my feet simply because I was born in a different part of the world.  And even upon knowing this, Eva and the rest of the workers treated me only with kindness and grace.  I have gained a whole new respect for field workers and their families. 

I also met Jose today.  After talking with him I thanked him for helping me so much with the berries and teaching me what to do.  He simply said, “That’s what we do.  Help others.”  And it made me realize that raspberry picking and the people that I met at the field have taught me so much in such a short time.  I learned about teamwork and how everyone can’t move on to a new section without finishing the prior section completely.  Even if you have finished your row, you go back and help someone else with their row.  And so we help each other and there is a joy from being helped and helping others and seeing their eyes crinkle up in a smile as they acknowledge this.

I met Rosio and Anna when we were picking alongside each other and they were arguing over who was going to ask for my name.  Finally one got the courage to ask me and they asked me many more questions.  It was refreshing because it seems that we as foreigners always initiate most of the smiles, waves, and “Holas”.  But at the fields, everything felt different and I felt so much more like myself and I truly experienced what I’ve heard everyone say about Mexicans being helpful, sharing, and happy.  I found out Anna has worked here for a year and Rosio for 2-3 years.  We talked about music and when they asked who I listened to, I told them I liked Taylor Swift, and guess what, Anna loves her too!  They also like Justin Bieber.  It took some time for me to understand who they were talking about because they pronounced his name “Hoostin”. 

It was a little sad saying goodbye today because I knew we wouldn’t be back again. I won’t forget those who are at the raspberry fields.  When I wanted to just stop working under the heat and the strain of my back I remembered that those around me do this everyday.  At one point, Rosio and Anna asked if I liked working here and I said “Yes” because I could not bring myself to say otherwise.  I asked them back and they said “Yes” as well.  I can’t help but wonder, there must be something else they would rather be doing with their lives.  They have so much potential.  It was truly an honor to work alongside these people today and get to know them.  They show such perseverance and strength and are still able to find joy in life.  It was definitely a day to remember.

LiveDifferent Academy Students, 2013 Spring Shack Week


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 11th, 2013