A day in the Orchard

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150-400 words)

While all my extracurricular activities have helped me shape my values, there is one in particular I have enjoyed the most: picking tangerines from my grandmother’s orchard. Picking tangerines was often to me simply a burden. I had to wake up at six every Saturday and drive fifty miles to help my grandmother reap good tangerines. On the whole ride I would think to myself: I would rather be reading poetry and ponder upon ways to change the world. As far as I was concerned, reaping tangerines was not going to help me do so. The orchard belonged to my grandmother, who to save money had to “hire” me and my mom. There was no wage; the only working benefit was being able to taste a few fresh tangerines for free. At age thirteen, such benefit was enough. At seventeen, I was not so sure if it was. Working at the orchard usually involved scratches, itching, worms, climbing up the ladder, getting hurt, and demanding, long hours of physical labor.

But as I worked through the years with tangerines, I began to recognize all the beauty my labor had. Everything in the orchard began telling their own stories. A tiny, pruned tree took pride in its small fruition, all the while a chunky tree demanded attention for its crooked children. Their offspring–tangerines–told by their taste who their trees were; some of them edgy, some of them warm, and some of them implicitly angry. Bugs would tell me which tree needs my help. No tree is without a hope. Within a few days of assistance, all the trees fought back those tiny enemies and always claimed victory. They became ever more proud, stronger, and complete. Enemies came back; but this time the trees didn’t need my help. Some tangerines would go bad–in extreme cases would give up under negligence. We grieve. But we simply carry on. We learn to proceed more carefully, and we let go.

The orchard is for me a story of life–human life. It makes all the complications of our lives more simple, easier to grasp, and more available at my tongue, hands and feet. So as of right now, my Saturday is always booked for the orchard. I hope by next year this time around, however, my orchard will be at Vanderbilt.

Leave a Comment