Wow, so that’s what work is!

Spread the love

The Academy students in Mexico go through a very challenging yet very rewarding week called ‘Shack Week.’ This is where they build themselves a ‘shack’ to live in, and work alongside the Mexicans in jobs such as field work, rock picking, and clamming. The students have just completed two days of hard work in the local tomato fields. Have a look at what they have to say about their experience.

Wow, so that’s what work is! Today was so tough, but I’m glad we all pulled through as a team. At times I just wanted to quit but then I reminded myself that some of these people come will back here everyday for most of their lives, so we can pull through two days. It is so different from the outside looking in thinking ‘that would suck,’ but then actually being there is such a crazy experience and you realize how fortunate you are. It makes me wonder what keeps them going. What do they look forward to? How do elderly people get through a day? I wish I could do more for the people here and I wish they didn’t have to live a life of struggle. I don’t understand why the world has to be like this, there are so many people who could help change things.


In the morning the mountains were back-lit by the sun, which made their silhouettes vibrant. It was a nice sight before a long day of work. As we bent and strained our backs to search almost aimlessly through the green tomato plants, I tried to imagine what it would be like to do this monotonous job day after day, week after week. Shuffling positions, trying to find one that didn’t hurt, but every movement led to another pain in my side or a cut on my knee. All day I tried to maintain my mantra that it will be lunch soon – imagine living your life like this!

Every time I close my eyes I see row upon row of tomato plants. Every time I look at my hands I am reminded of the weeds and dirt and leaves that blackened them. Today was a rough day. Even though there is a language barrier and my Spanish is not good, I talked with an older Spanish woman. She said she had been working in the fields a long time. There were about 20-30 other elderly folk in the same situation. They pretty much live to work. I can already tell that this experience will leave me thankful for a lot more than I have been before.


The workers are always so full of joy and willing to help you in any way – including insisting I stay in the shade while waiting for the toilet in case my skin got burned! Even though the work was tough, seeing all the Mexicans working so diligently  was encouragement enough to keep going. If we even thought about complaining about the pain, we just looked at the 70 year olds going at it with the hoe and we were proud of our youth. I will miss their warm smiles and care-free attitudes. Though it was the toughest work I have done in my life, I wouldn’t take back a single bit of it. It is an experience that has changed my life.


October 16th 2012, We left base camp at 0500 hours. We were tired yet excited for the task that lay before us. The walk to the pick up spot was rather nice. The morning air was crisp and the sun would be soon to rise over the hill. We were picked up by our captain and driven to our mission point. The work was hard. It is hard to comprehend how people get up that early every single day. I will never complain again. I can’t imagine how numb one must be, both physically and mentally. Around 1100 hours on our second day of field work I decided I never want to own a garden…ever! 9 hours of picking weeds is definitely enough for my lifetime.

When Canadians see Mexican fields on TV they would see what I saw at first, rows upon rows of crops each with a Mexican worker in them. It’s pretty beautiful especially with the view of the mountains in the background. However the thing you can’t get from your TV is how incredibly hot it is how long these people have been working, how physically demanding the tasks are, or even the ages of some of the workers.


It’s my second of two days working in the fields. Today I needed to mentally and physically tell myself to keep going. I would look up and down the rows of tomato vines and think ‘wow these people do this six days a week!’ I thought back to my life in Canada and compared it to the life these people have here. It amazes me to think how different it is. Some people complain about working in a fast food restaurant at home yet here I met an old man called Coyote who laughed and made jokes all day through this hard work.



Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 18th, 2012