Day Seven – Shack Experience – “Last Day”

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shoveling-out-truck.jpgThe days had begun to run together but everyone knew what today was. Last day. Last day of the shack experience. One last day of walking the kids to school first thing in the morning, one last day of hard work, one last evening of cooking over the fire and one last sleep in the shack. Most people living this kind of life do not have the luxury of thinking this way. This is their life day in and day out. The Mexican workers we met throughout the week “were mystified with us, that a group of rich white people wanted to do a low-paying job and live in Mexico when their dream is to get away from here and live a better life” (Allie, School of Leadership Student).The students worked hard doing landscaping all day. This involved lots of swinging the pick-axe, shoveling, lifting rocks and raking. After a week of working outside they were a well-oiled machine even though after a week of labour their bodies were tired and sore. As they worked together they laughed, teased each other, encouraged each other and gave each other space when someone needed it. They were determined that the homeowners would return to find a nicely sloped yard instead of a drop off outside their front door. And they accomplished it.The leadership students accomplished a lot this week. Some were skeptical going in about whether they were going to survive – and here they were on day seven. They had learned not only about what kind of lives other people live but they also learned so much about themselves. They learned to be grateful that they had a shack to go to sleep in at the end of a day of work. That they do not need as many ‘things’ as they thought they did to survive or be happy. The students were grateful for the jobs that they have had in Canada. “Back home my last job was tedious work, packing books for a distributing company and I felt underpaid at $11/hour. Thinking back on that I feel quite silly and ashamed of my greed. I wanted more money…for what? More clothes, new shoes? I lived in a sturdy house; there was food in my fridge; parents that told me to reach for the stars” (Allie, School of Leadership Student). They learned they have so much to be thankful for.The students learned that they do not always have to be doing something and that they can have a good time just sitting around a fire chatting with friends. By the end of the week bugs were dealt with casually rather than calling in the troops. They learned that they could eat until they are full on about two dollars a day each. They marveled at how cheerful most people they met are despite the fact that they must be tired from the hard work. They learned to work together, to budget their money and make decisions together. And even though they do not want their parents to know, they learned how much work there is to do around the home after work but before bed – and that if everyone pitches in and works together it gets done much faster. There is so much more that they learned that cannot be captured within a blog. Finally they learned that they need to believe in themselves. That they can accomplish more than they think possible and that they are their own worst enemy. When they decided to say ‘why not, let’s try it’ they were surprised and amazed at what they could do.survivors-waiting-at-gate.jpgThat all being said, none were ready to take on a second week of living in the shack and were eagerly waiting at the house gate after their final sleep in the shack to return home. I am proud of the students for digging deep and pulling together to not only get through the week but for trying to get the most that they could from the experience. I hope that the lessons they learned will carry through to the rest of their time together in the School of Leadership and as they return home at the end of the year.Rose, School of Leadership Mexico Facilitator

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 29th, 2010