The Shack Experience – Day #6 Working in the Fields
Shack Work Day #6 started out with an early wake up at 4am. The students were picked up at 4:45am at the highway to be brought to a local ranch to work in the fields. The minute the students stepped out of the truck, they got all kinds of looks from the Mexican workers, they could not figure out why these “Americans” would want to work in the fields.
The day started with the students picking bucket fulls of cucumbers and hauling them to a big truck. They worked on the cucumbers for a couple of hours, by the time they were ready to move on to planting strawberry plants, they had picked two huge truck fulls of cucumbers. It was only 9am but it felt like they had been out there for a really long time, and they were already feeling sore. They were then taken to a strawberry field where they were given a tool and a bucket full of strawberry plants. They used the tool to help push the strawberry roots deeper into the soil. They were constantly bent over, and they got so used to being bent over that it hurt a lot when they had to stand straight up. They all worked really hard. In fact, some of the old ladies working there said that the “little white girls” were hard workers.
At lunch time, Julia (pronounced Hoolia) , our neighbor across the street from the big house, brought the students quesadillas which was a real treat because they had been eating a lot of beans and rice for meals. I asked each of them about their experience that day, and all of them were really emotional. They couldn’t believe that people do this their whole lives. There was young kids to really old Mexican’s out there working in the fields. The students were also thinkig that a lot of these women would go home after a really hard day out at the fields and go home to make supper, do laundry, and clean. The Mexicans work so hard, day in and day out, for a meer 110 pesos.
We also found out that there is no pay increase here, they all work for the same amount of income. The only thing they have to look forward to is when you have reached a certain amount of years in age, they let you work at some of the easier jobs. This is there type of incentive to keep older people working in the fields. The students didn’t really want to talk to me after because they said they had no words to describe what they had felt towards these extremely hard working Mexicans. They did say that they felt sadness for the Mexicans, because for the students, after tomorrow they get to go back to beds, warm showers,and a concrete home. The majority of the Mexican’s after work will go back to their shacks, and live such a hard life. I don’t believe this experience will ever leave any of the students minds. It was very life changing and really gave them an idea of what living the life of a Mexican could be like.
~ Brett Dyrland, School of Leadership Staff Member