Importance of the Everyday Worker

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Every Job is an Important Job

Many social aspects are different in Mexico than they are back home. One thing that has really stuck out to me is the attitude toward different roles in society. The same respect is held toward the help in the house as it is to the teacher or the business owner. I have learned that work ethic is of more importance in Mexico than status and this is something I respect very much.

In the US, nobody grows up wanting to do the jobs that don’t have some type of esteem or status attached to them. We all want to feel important, when in reality, every job plays a necessary role in society. The world needs trash men just as much as we need doctors.

The first time I started to realize this attitude was talking to the butler that worked in my host family’s house, Braulio. To all of our surprise, he was not working for our host family because he was poor or considered a low class citizen. He explained to us that he was not interested in school and he just wanted to work. His job search led him to working as help for our host family because it was financially promising. He even left the town he was from to come work at the house. In the US, domestic servantry has negative connotations attached to it such as work for the lower class.

Family Ties

Artisan at Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán.

Another reason I appreciate their regard for all lines of work is because it allows small, family run businesses to prosper. There are many places to get your shoes shined, grab a churro, get a nice hand-made keepsake, and plenty of other things to spend money on to keep the economy going. Since people do not always seek or have access to higher education, people often end up specializing in the same trade as their family. We visited Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan and learned about this one family that has specialized in making the best Oaxacan ceramics for generations. I never appreciated the skill it took to hand-make crafts until learning about this family and watching one of the men make a watering pot from a block of clay. Oaxaca has opened my eyes to acknowledge the societal role of those that make the plates, bowls, mugs, and other decorative trinkets we see in our houses everyday.

Occupation in Oaxaca depends heavily on the family even outside small businesses. The family influence may be a key reason for the respect of the less glamorous jobs. It is probably understood that most people do what their parents did and play their own specific role in society and the economy. My host parents both work in healthcare and they’re kids did as well. I learned that public school positions are also passed down to family members. Overall, Oaxaca has struck me as very hardworking and very family oriented.