Photos and story by Claire Abendroth

"If you pick six boxes, your whole body aches.  People come and pick two or three boxes and leave.  Nobody wants to do it, but we do.” Ignacio Jurado and his family are the epitome of hard workers.  Seven days a week, he and his children are out in the field at Uncle John’s Cider Mill, picking boxes of apples and packing them in bags. 

Ignacio “Nacho” Jurado, 57, is an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico. He traveled here undocumented when he was eleven in search of work. Since then, he has gained citizenship and is working towards changing his wife’s status from green card to citizenship.  

Work is a big part of he and his five children’s lives. “Many people say that we are workaholics. We aren’t workaholics - we have to work to make it in this world.” Depending on the season, he may work over 100 hours a week. His commitment to his work is fueled by his desire to help his close friends.    

The children work nearly 40 hours a week and attend school. Balancing schoolwork and work is something that the kids had to learn early on in life.  Leo Jurado, 13, Ignacio Jurado, 17, and Adriana Rodriguez, 18, go to school full-time at Saint Johns Middle School and High School.  They struggle to find time to finish their homework and participate in school activities between their busy schedules working on the cider mill. Helping to pay bills is something that Jurado’s children have experienced throughout their lives.

Jurado often reminisces about the memories from his childhood in Mexico, but appreciates the life he has made in America.  He encourages his children to continue their education and hopes that they will use their knowledge of hard work to help them succeed in the future. 

Bio: Claire Abendroth is currently enrolled as a junior at Central Michigan University and works for University Communications as a photo intern.  As a photojournalist, Claire has been shooting for 2 years now, and hopes to do long term documentary work in the future. 

Experience: The workshop was a great experience for me. I had heard about the workshop and have seen other students work from previous years, and I was extremely excited to be able to participate. My favorite thing about photojournalism is having the opportunity to meet many different people and learn about different cultures. The topic of immigration was very appealing to me. I immediately started searching for a subject and found an amazing family at Uncle John’s Cider Mill.  I started shooting as soon as I could and spent as much time as I could with them.  I felt a connection with this family as soon as I began photographing them.  Their hard work and how close they are as a family is something that really inspired me while spending time with them.  By the end of the week I felt a close connection and friendship with this family.  I plan on staying in touch with them and visiting them in the future.  The workshop taught me about friendship and the power of building a connection with someone.  I learned that you can’t expect people to share their lives with you without you sharing your life with them.  It was a great learning experience and I am excited to take what I’ve learned and apply it to all the work that I do in the future.