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LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development and Hero Holiday would like to announce the beginning of an exciting experiential leadership school; this initiative is a nine month personal development program with global possibilities! LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s school of leadership focuses on you, your generation, and the global community in which we all play a key part.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is now offering a second start date, January 2008, for the School of Leadership

During the nine months, you will experience a wide range of opportunities and possibilities. Your year will be split between Canada and Mexico. Half of your year with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) will be in


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 30th, 2007

Mike Frye, Student Leader Mexico ’07

To begin with it looks like I am advertising Mike, I am not, although he does enjoy long walks on the beach an the ocassional crazy adventure in other countries. You are free to keep that in mind.The following is Mike’s story of “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”…Wow, what a month! I had been on two incredible Mexico trips in the past, but when I first heard about the leadership program for August I knew there was no way I could leave home for an entire month. However, as August drew nearer, I came to the realization that if I didn’t seize this opportunity, I would be making a huge mistake. I gave Charles a call, quit my job and booked a flight out to Toronto to meet him. When I told my friends that I would be going to Mexico for a month, most of them called me lucky. They didn’t know what exactly I was doing down in Mexico, and I was quick to dismiss the notion that I was lucky. Was I ever wrong. On the 25th of July, I flew down to Toronto. I drove to Hamilton and got to meet with most of the LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) staff. I was able to see off an energetic group that was going to the Dominican Republic. Then it was off to pack up Charles’s house. It became a running joke between Charles and me that I was a princess because I wasn’t able to survive off six hours of sleep like he somehow could. On the evening of the 27th, we left Hamilton and began the long drive to San Diego, where we picked up Charles’s wife Tricia, his three kids, Gabe, Micah and Isaac, and Tricia’s dad, Neal. The next day it was off to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico! At the beginning of August, after a few days of settling in, we drove back up to San Diego to pick up the first group of students. We couldn’t ask for a better group to start the month with. Every student in the entire group was friendly, outgoing, and excited to be there. I got quite sick and had to stay in bed for almost a week, but encouragement from the students brought me to a quick…err…steady recovery. The enthusiasm from the group made it a fun environment to be in. The group put together a house for a very humble and deserving family. They also did a great job doing painting and insulating for a daycare that was incredibly short-staffed and that didn’t have the time or money to do so themselves. The next group made the long drive down from Abbotsford. Since the second group was so much larger, they were divided into two house-build teams. With one team as all females, many who had never hammered a nail before, I questioned how the house would ever make it up. I sure was mistaken, as they ended up being the fastest house-build team Hero Holiday had ever seen. The house looked amazing too! My house-build team worked incredibly well as a team to build the house and develop relationships with the family, children, and one another as well. Twice, we set up soccer games for the children and played games of Canada vs. Mexico. While my team-mates played well, my soccer skills were often shown up by kids no taller than my belly button. It was great to see such amazing teamwork and cooperation from the entire group. To the students, student leaders and staff of Hero Holiday; you all are amazing. It turns out I was lucky to come on this trip because I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. These families will never forget each and every one of you, just like you will never forget them. Continue being passionate about what you do and never forget what you’ve learned. The youth of this generation is powerful beyond measure and capable of reaching incredible goals. …You can also check out some of Mike’s stuff on YouTube, starting with: *All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 20th, 2007

G-Wiz in Detroit

So on Saturday, my team, “Team 2” (aka Team Extreme) headed west for a 6 week tour in MB, SK, AB and BC… after we crossed the border a certain unmentioned individual took the wrong exit and ended up on the Detroit route instead of the usual more northern one.G-Wiz

Needing some lunch-time eats, I, er the driver, took an exit into an urban Detroit neighborhood because my google map said that there was a Wendy’s there. After giving the super-value menu a solid beating, we were waiting for one last straggler to get into the bus, when out of the blue this stranger hops in the bus to introduce himself. His name is G-Wiz and he is a rapper with 13.5 Records. He said when he seen the bus he felt an urge to come and talk to us. We start talking and it turns out that he his into the same positive message that LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is. So I thought I would give a shout out to G-Wiz, check out his myspace at

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 18th, 2007

Participant Blog: Excerpts From Mark’s Journal…Final Thoughts

Well I’m writing this on labour day, the last day of summer. Still thinking about them all every single day – Mexicans and Canadians. Every single night I lie in bed at least two hours after I go to bed, thinking. Thinking about what I’ll write to José Enriqué. Thinking about whether or not little Chuy will remember me if I can ever visit him again. Thinking about how long Estefan has left to live. Then, right in the middle of the day, I’ll be thinking about the other students. Biking home from work on the beautiful causeway last week, I was thinking about where all the others were at that exact moment. Joanna probably settling in to UPEI, Mason and Parker probably sleeping in (even though it would be about 1:00 in Alberta, they’d probably still be sleeping), Mike, Val, Alethea and Peach still in Mexico, Becky probably keeping everything together there in the middle of week 2. Jamille was probably finally getting home from California, Justin and Jodi, Emma, Morgan all somewhere in Ontario. Krystle getting ready to leave for U of Windsor perhaps? And everyone else too, I went through everyone. I know we all took something different from this experience, but if everyone has learned and evolved as much as I have, HH Mexico was a tremendous success.One of the enjoyable things for me was learning about the culture. Much of the credit has to be attributed to Charles and Becky, but a lot of it you can observe just by watching. So much is different. Driving. The road is just a suggestion, really. Next to the road, there’s a second, dirt road. You can drive there if you want. Needless to say, we don’t have that in Canada. When and animal dies on the side of the road… it stays there a while. Even a horse. There were, on many occasions, crosses on the side of the road. That gives the quality of driving there.The animals are a sad sight over there. Some dogs and cats are the skinniest ANYTHINGS I’ve seen. But I guess when you hardly have enough food for your family, the animals don’t get the priority, do they? Liliana told me that one of her friends from Chile came to Canada and saw the 3 rows of animal food at the grocery store and started crying. True story. For developing countries, they need all the help they can get. And some of that help has to come from inside the country. Rural Mexico has a very thick rich/poor line. The rich Mexicans have to help too. And I think that has to go for every country of the world. But it’s not all up to them. How many people have seen the news about the Earthquake in Peru, shook their head, said “How sad”, and changed the channel? I’ll admit it, I’m among them. There are so many valuable causes out there, how do we help them all? That’s a question I can’t anwser. But you can’t let that discourage you. If you can change the life of one person, you are a hero to them for the rest of their life. Look at the kids from Mexico I’ve been talking about through this series of notes. Daira, Francisco, Sarah and Luz Maria (and whoever else, I’m not quite sure) could still be living in that run down shack, but now they have a brand new house. What an amazing change that must be in their everyday lives! Every person deserves to have some food on the table. Everyone deserves a roof over their head. Water to drink. Every person helped is a person worth helping.So this closes my series of notes from Mexico. I’ll never forget you all. *All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 15th, 2007

Excerpts From Mark’s Journal…Perspectives on Hero Holiday Mexico!

Day 1 It’s just past nine as I write this, sitting alone in the 2nd floor deck at the Greater Moncton Airport. We should be boarding our flight to Montreal momentarily.So it begins! Actually, it begins tomorrow with the Montreal- Los Angeles flight, but whatever. I’m doing this to try and help the Mexican family, but being completely honest, I have a few other motives. Sure, we all see it on TV, but hopefully experiencing it in person will give me a new perspective. Second, I’m hoping it will help me clear up my future – I’m talking career choice. But that will all have to wait. For the next 4 days, I’ll be hanging around LA with my parents. I don’t have a problem with that, but I’d rather go straight to Mexico. My flight should get called anytime now. Next time I touch this notebook, I’ll be soaking up some California sun.P.S. : Perfect timing! Just as I wrote California, they called the flight.I’M REALLY DOING THIS!Day 4Today, we drove down to San Diego to meet the group. The drive was pretty cool. For some reason, people around here like to hang around overpasses with “Vote For Ron Paul” signs. Also saw an Impeach Bush protest in Laguna Beach. This in way too rich compared to what I’ll see tomorrow. In Huntington Beach, there was a Porsche and a Ferrari dealership on the same block. Are you kidding?We met most of the team, 19 of the 20 are here. Justin’s probably going to be one of my tent mates, we get along great. Only 4 guys here. It’s funny how you notice the internationality of Canada. We’ve all got different heritages. Italian from Montreal, German from Kelowna, Japanese from Penticton, Iranian from Saskatoon. There are plenty more that I will probably find out during the trip. Only 3 of us speak French, me, Myriam and Sarah. Jamie apparently understands it, but for some reason refuses to speak. She’s from somewhere in Alberta.Day 5Today was special. As soon as you cross the Mexican border, everything changes. The houses get smaller, terrain gets rougher, grass scarcer and people pourer. It’s sad to see all this. The landscape is beautiful, reminding me a bit of Cape Breton.Krystle said it best when we were talking in the van. The country looks hopeless. The lack of colour and expression because of lack of water makes it look like there is no hope for the people. The only people who grow crops are the ones who can afford water. The rich get richer, the poor are forgotten.Got to the campground, looks like a cool place. Great food service. Apparently, it’s scorpion and tarantula season. That freaked out a few. Tomorrow, we visit the worksites and have dinner at the beach near a shipwreck. Sun goes down at 7:30 here. It’s very cool here at night. What’s with all the bizarre weather?Day 6 Today, we visited all the sites and learned more about local customs and culture. Who’d’ve thought we’d have to put used toilet paper in the waste basket?We started off by visiting a few local Christian daycares. They’re doing everything they can to help, but it’s still not enough. Then, we visited the house the last team built. The site was infested with red ants. I’m glad it isn’t our site…Then, we met with the family we are building for. The kids are amazingly cute, although one of them was a bit rough with the domestic animals. The rest of the team will know what I’m talking about. The site is great. Top of a huge hill with an ocean view, and a nice breeze coming in. One of the kids wouldn’t let Bahar and Joanna go when we had to leave. Literally held on to them. I really can’t wait to get there tomorrow and start working for these people. They seem great.Soccer field was a bit run down. Just sand, dirt and a few rocks. One of the few nets is missing a post. We’ll still have fun though.Lunch was at the shipwreck today. Took a few pics. Supper soon, then sunset at the beach, + beach soccer.Day 7First workday today. I painted all morning, from about 9 to 11:30. We were 4 working on it at a time, but Liliana and I were the only ones who stayed beginning to end. After lunch, I went to help dif the outhouse hole. I ended up being alone most of the afternoon, but that was ok. After a while, Myriam came to help out, and then Meg came for the last 30-45 mins. I enjoyed that last half hour, pretty interesting talks. Letitia was hanging around some of that time. She’s ten. When it was time to leave, she grabbed my sunglasses and something of Meg’s (I forget what) to get us to chase her around. She wouldn’t let us leave. It’s all in good fun.The weather was great on the top of the hill. Sun was burn in, but the wind added some nice contrast. Lost of sand though. I was apparently by far the dirtiest when the day was over. That’s fine with me.Day 8 Today was my day with the kids. Worked at the hole in the morning, but spent most of the afternoon with Chuy (Chewy is the pronounciation)(Jésus (HaySouse if you say it out loud 😉 is the real name, Chuy is Jesus’s nickname), a kid about 6 years old. It was the experience of a lifetime. He took me into his garden and with the limited Spanish I know, I told him if I liked the smell of different plants he pulled out a lot, a little, so-so or not. He pulled out a branch of the ones I said I liked, and gave them to me. It’s amazing how they have so little, yet always try to give back. He also brought me into the grandmother”s house, very small, and I met Estefan, the 19 year old brother who became vegetable when doctors messed up trying to help him after a car accident. It was a sad sight I’ll never forget.Chuy and I spent about 4 hours just playing around for fun or with a ball. I kept some of the plants. He also tied my shoes when they were untied. We played a bit with José Enriqué too, the 10 year old brother. It was a very fun day.Had one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve ever had today. After supper, Krystle and I were so engaged in conversation that we were seated for 30 minutes after everyone else were gone. Talked about all the small things that can lead to so much, and how we were going to change the world. And we will, won’t we Krystle?Day 9 Soccer Camp! CANADA 4 – 2 MEXICO. THAT was fun. Other than when Peach left me alone in goal for the Mexicans to take about 5 shots in a row on me ;). Damn. One of the littlest Mexicans there scored on a volley. We couldn’t believe it. I swear he was about 3 and a half feet. No exaggeration. I can’t wait to go back on day 11. Went back to the house after. There wasn’t much to do, everyone was happy where they were. So Parker, Joanna and I had fun with the kids. A bit more aggressive this time, but not purposely. Jesus kneed my in the private area, and not long after, Daira (4 years old) kept pulling my leg hair. Joanna tried, to no avail, to get her off. All quite funny though. Joanna was laughing anyway. Played a lot with all four today. Also talked (well tried to) with Moises, the 18 y/o brother. As Becky said, if he were Canadian/American, the universities would be after him. But he’s Mexican. Works in a tomato packing plant (I think).Today was Krystle’s birthday. We had a pinata. I was on the van holding the string after Jamille gave up when she got shot with an airsoft gun a few times. Of course, I get on there and Chris shoots me twice in the crotch. Real kind.The domestic animals are very skinny here. Dogs and cats hardly get anything to eat. Peach had a good point when she said that so many humans have nothing to eat, and these people have to worry first and foremost about themselves. But the dogs and cats are still a very sad sight.Day 10 Today was pretty much the usual. Got some work done and played a bit with the kids. The outhouse hole is finally done. It’s hard to widen it when it’s 6 feet deep, so Mason and I just used a hammers and a crowbar. Odd, but fun.Nothing else of note other than the campfire talks. About different ways to change the world and make an impact. Those help a lot more than Becky thinks. Day 11 Soccer camp again. This three foot kid LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly schooled me by picking the top corner three times. There was a kid about my age there this time, name was something like Abel, who was pretty good. Actually, he recognized the name of Sergio Aguero on the jersey I was wearing and a small group of kids crowded around to argue who was better, Mexico or Argentina (Aguero’s an Argie). I managed to get a few arguments in there, in Spanish. Amazing how fast you catch on when you’re under pressure. Everyone knew the argument was a big joke, and there were smiles all around. I had no chance of winning it.Wasn’t feeling well in the afternoon, so I hung out with Mike a while in the lobby of the campground, then picked Charles’ guitar and played a few hours. I wanted to play alone, but ended up singing with a small group. Jamie thinks I have a nice voice.We finish up the house tomorrow, it’s also our last day with the kids. Started spray-painting a bunk-bed bubble gum pink, will probably continue tomorrow.Day 12 I sit teary-eyed writing this today. We just got back from the house, completed. We just said our final goodbyes. So many thoughts are going through this head, I don’t know where to start. Might as well go in chronological order. Here was my day.I stayed back at the campground all morning to help spray-paint a bunk-bed we are giving them bubble-gum pink. At noon, we headed to the worksite to deliver lunch. As soon as my feet were on the ground, Enriqué started his run toward me, and into my arms. All the cousins were there. Grand opening later today. After a little while, one of the little girls who I’d never seen today was crying in someone’s arms, either Jamillle or Krystle, not too sure who, and as soon as they put her down, she ran into my arms. Odd. I really don’t know what went down there, as Jamille and Krystle were amongst the best with kids.After lunch, a few of us headed back to the campground to chill and help load the gifts. When we got back at 3, I couldn’t even open the door, because José Enriqué and Letitia were right there waiting. I’m going to miss those two and Chuy the most. Chuy then brought me to the grandmother’s house. This time, we were alone with Estefan. He actually shook my hand. He can’t make out words or do much by himself, but he shook my hand. After that, Meg came to get Parker, Mason and I to help lift a block of concrete. I swear, we didn’t get a millimetre off the ground. We went to get help. Even 12 people couldn’t get the damn thing off the ground. The thing weighed more than a ton. Mike and I stayed with the old man afterward, pretending to analyse the situation. No way in hell that was going anywhere.Then, everyone went inside the house to dedicate it. Becky started by asking if anyone had anything to say to the family. I went first, and that meant a lot to me. Another key moment for me. Liliana as always was the interpreter. Throughout this whole process inside the house, I was standing with Letitia, who was seated. Then, Alana played some song she wrote. My mind was elsewhere. Sorry Alana.After that, we gave the kids their presents. That feeling was amazing. It was like the Christmas they never had. The first thing Letitia did when she opened her bag was pull out an orange marker and draw a little heart on my left hand. I nearly broke down crying right then and there. I looked up and saw Meg and Ally crying their eyes out.Then came the group photos, one of the group, and one of the group and family. I love every single person in that family.Finally, the toughest part. Goodbyes. I had lots of trouble with the aforementioned three, and the little girl who ran to me when she was crying. I kissed Letitia three times on the cheek. Then I picked up Chuy and just hugged him for at least two minutes. And Jose Enriqué. I promised him that I’d write. I plan on keeping that promise. Liliana and Justy will need to help, but there’s nothing that’ll stop me writing him. I have no doubt they’ll remember me. I just have to sign it “Marcos”.As everyone was getting in the van and ready to go, I had one thing left to do. I ran over to José Enriqué and we shook hands. Throughout the trip, we always had the same handshake, which we’d purposely miss once in a while. Just our own little thing. Then I jumped in the van, pretty sure I was the last, and that was it. I’ll miss them so much.Day 13 Last night, we slept on the Pacific ocean. Had a poker game until about 1:30 AM. Damn Cole always has to eliminate me. After that, we hung out around our unusual fire. Won’t add anything else about that.All day today, we were at the beach in San Quitin. What a cool beach! Water was freezing, but the sand was burning. The sand dunes were so fun to jump in, there was no way you could hurt yourself. That’s about all we did today. Leaving for San Diego tomorrow.Day 14 Wake up to music at 6 AM. Time to pack. We left at 7:30, nonstop to the market at La Bufadora. Shopped aroud a bit. Couldn’t find anything for my friends, but still had fun. We had to fight for prices with the vendors. I got Krystle a blanket for 5$, and the guy was asking 10 for it. It was almost cute to see how bad she felt. We had about 45 mins wait at the Tijuana/San Diego border. Vendors trying to sell stuff at the windows, it’s a special sight. Justin got an awesome jacket after Charles got the price down from 35$ to 21$. Good deal.As soon as you cross the border, everything gets so much richer. Dust becomes grass, shacks become mansions, it’s unbelievable. As I was saying to Charles in San Diego, if the border talks had gone just a little differently, the beautiful city of San Diego would be dirt and shacks instead of private yachts and skyscrapers.We hung out all night in our hotel room, watched American Pie I, American Pie II and American wedding. We weren’t paying much attention though. Airports tomorrow, home the next day.*All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent


Participant Blog: A Spoonful of Sugar

Katrina NiedererThe day we went to the dump opened my eyes a bit more to what some of our world has to go through. They work for less than a dollar a day to support themselves, support their families. They can’t ‘call in sick’ because their lives depend on this little work that they have. They can’t get any other work because they are not even considered as existing human beings. Starving dogs roam looking for any left over food, abused because they are the competition to survival.

A little boy was sitting on the top of a hill with the ‘Heffe’ (who, may I add, was wearing a ‘make poverty history’ bracelet as he helped us pump possibly the only fresh water that they’ve gotten in a long time). The little boy’s parents were working hard in the dump, collecting anything of value. He sat there so silent, no words, no emotion showing on the outside. He wouldn’t look around or anything. Just sat in silence, so tiny and innocent. We gave a cup of water to the little boy and he drank it so slowly, like it was precious and he had to savour it. He kept it up to his lips, not letting go of it, taking tiny sips. He finished it after a long time. We asked what was wrong through the translator, the translator asked him but he couldn’t even speak. He asked people around him and they said he was really sick. I sat down and rubbed and tickled his back. Love is one of the most important necessities to survival. I put him on my lap because he was sitting on the dump grounds all day…every day. We gave him another cup of water and then Christal asked if any of us had something sweet. I went to my knapsack because I remembered that I had a fruit bar in there. I quietly snuck him little pieces of the sugary fruit bar and he ate it so gratefully, so peacefully, still hardly moving. But just ten minutes later, he started moving more and he smiled at me about five times. He had a beautiful smile, beautiful eyes and all he needed was sugar. All they need is sugar. something in their blood, in their tummy and they can’t get it because many people only see that they have their own money, their own home, their own sugar.

~Katrina Niederer

*All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 7th, 2007