After a 7 week tour, the thought of going back home is an amazing feeling. But for a lot of us on tour visiting home isn’t really an option because of how far away it actually is. For us, improvising home has become a reality. For this four month adventure my “home” is our house in Hamilton. We call it the Magill house. Now it doesn’t have the charm of my house back in Newfoundland, or any of my family members BUT it has personal space. On tour, after living on a school bus and out of family’s homes you start to realize that there is no personal space. It really is all part of the experience of tour but you really start to miss it after, let’s say … 7 weeks haha.The Magill house can get pretty crazy at times, when both road teams are home there can be up to 18 people living in the house, don’t worry we have 2 kitchens, 3 bathrooms 7 decent sized bedrooms and a LOT of bunk beds.
Even though our “house mom” Mandy just moved in with a flat screen TV, life in the Magill house isn’t always easy. Despite not actually being “on tour” we still have Think Day’s in local schools every day. I say “local schools” because that’s what’s on our schedule but these “local shows” can be up to 2.5 hours away. This means morning’s that start around 5am, and at the end of the day you arrive home and get to cook your own meals. It can make for a long day but it is nice to have a little break from tour.
Home to me still is where my family lives back in Newfoundland, but for this adventure I’ve had to improvise a little. My friends on tour have become my family and the bus and Magill house have become my home. What defines home for you?
Day 4, Generations.Today was a roofing day. I like this day, my favourite place to be is the roof and there is yet to be a build I am part of where I have not been on the roof. I don’t know if it’s the tar that is impossible to get off, or the scratches you acquire all over your legs from the plywood and shingles, or maybe even it’s the cramped hands and sore wrists you have by the time you are done hammering hundreds of 1/2 inch nails in, something about it is just appealing to me.Emily, Leah, Sarah and myself (Deryn) made up the roofing crew, I was sort of the leader since I knew how to do everything where as the other girls had only been on the roof once before, or in Sarah’s case not ever. We worked great together and it was more of a team effort than anything. We did the first 3/8 rows before lunch and then got right back up there after lunch to keep working on the roof. When we finished it would be time to leave. We did nothing but work all day, while the boys stood around a lot (claiming to be working) and spent at least the last 30 minutes of the day watching us and heckling us from the ground.In the end, I think we did a fabulous job with really no mistakes. I think Emily hit her fingers more than she hit the nails but other then that… oh wait, there may have been an incident involving the leftover piece of shingle and some wind, but no one was injured. During the day Ponchito’s dad stopped by, it was really cool because he is the man that started the volunteer ambulance organization we were building for. This team of volunteers which Ponchito is now the head of and whose son, Noe, is a part of the team of paramedics. It is just amazing to see how it has evolved over the generations and hopefully it continues to grow and be a huge help to the people of this community.After our day of work we got come home and scrapped the tar off our legs and got ready to go out for tacos! We went to Smokeys and La Taqueria Diferencia, they are really close to each other so you could eat at whichever you wanted, or both if you’re the boys. Then the girls got ready for Zumba! Definitely can’t move my hips like those Spanish chikas. But we got sweaty and had a blast, it’s too bad it only lasts an hour!~ Deryn, a School of Leadership student living in MexicoThursday was our last day of building and consisted mainly of spreading and smoothing skim-coat on the walls. We had a late start and then spent the day filling all the corners and cracks with cement, of course there wasn’t much to do so we got off track a few times. Onesimo (our Mexican friend helping on the worksite) and I got in minor water fights all day (whilst being yelled at by people working to get to work) and were generally not productive, it was a great day. I decided to end the day dumping water on Onesimo and then running to the van as it drove off, I got him nice and soaked and then ran off. However, we realized that we had taken all the drills and they needed one for the door. When we got back Onesimo was waiting with a bucket but got more water on himself than me. A great end to a great day.~ Colin
“Ok, so tell me your best life moment,” I asked the group of one hundred students sitting on the floor facing me.When I asked those words to that group of high school students I was looking forward to hearing their answers. First of all, we were in Alberta, and I half expected the one cowboy who came up to the front and said that it was when he was able to stay on the bull that he was riding for the 8 seconds. Although that is a pretty cool life moment, it was the student that followed behind him that blew me away.We were there for a full LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Think Day, complete with workshops and assembly presentations. The school had requested that we take a different route with our workshops and we decided to split them into groups of five. In each group, we would share stories about ourselves, in an effort to break down some barriers and to connect on a whole new level. Topics were everything from your most embarrassing moment to someone in the school whom you admired, and our team each shared a story as well. It was such an amazing day and I was so thankful to be a part of it. But by far, her story was the one I will remember.She was tiny and quiet, but her smile was infectious. She was Japanese and she was here in this small town in the middle of Alberta for her second year on an exchange program. I can’t remember her name, but I will always remember her answer to the question. She put her hand up and I invited her to centre stage. I could tell she was not used to having the spotlight.”Well, to be honest, my best life moment is very different from everyone else here.” She smiled nervously. I nodded to her to encourage her to keep talking.”Since I was as young as I can remember, I have dreamed of being able to go to school in Canada. So, standing right here and getting to know all of you is what I would say my best life moment is.”There was a stunned silence. And as if someone had given them a cue, the entire student body began to cheer and clap. As she nodded her head at them, she quickly ran back to her spot on the floor where she was sitting. As she was going back to her seat, a thought struck me and I called out to her.”Has your family been affected by the earthquake and tsunami?””Oh, yes,” she said, very matter of factly. “My family’s house was destroyed in the earthquake and they are staying with family until they can go back home.””How do you feel being in Canada while they are going through all of that?” I asked her.”My family has told me they are very proud of me and thankful that I am safe in Canada. They want me to stay here and continue to study and learn all I can about Canadian culture. We love this country.”Those of us who were born and raised in Canada and who were in that room at that moment experienced something unfamiliar. We were humbled by what we have always been in possession of but have taken for granted more times than not: opportunity.I think that brief conversation touched a lot of lives that afternoon, and it reminded me of how blessed we are to live in a country that the world around us dreams of being a part of.There are many things wrong within our nation and there are many reasons that we could be frustrated, but there is one thing that I’m constantly reminded of: we are born in freedom and opportunity for a reason. It is our responsibility to make the most of it every day. It is tempting to want to level our gaze to what we can only see in front of us, but there is so much more to life. This life is a gift and an opportunity – let’s make the most of it.To find out more about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s high school programs or our Hero Holiday humanitarian opportunities and how you can be a part of what we do, check out www.livedifferent.com.
How Many SOL’s Does it Take to Build an Ambulance Station?
How Many SOL’s Does it Take to Build an Ambulance Station?
We aren’t Metalica, but we do have a lot of metal… literally. In the time it took me to actually come up with that joke, we would’ve had two walls built already. While driving back up to the work site this morning, I realized just how much we actually got done yesterday. Still knowing that we had much more to do, I got out of the van, put on my gloves, and picked up a drill. If you knew me, you’d know that power tools are not particularly my cup of tea, but after drilling all day yesterday with only one injury (a sliver to be exact), I was ready for round two. Should I mention that I actually enjoy it?With the roofing under our belts come lunchtime, we headed back to the house for some food. As soon as we got back to the site, we were ready to put the roof on! A few of us left early on in the afternoon to make 99 bags of popcorn for our movie night at the wonderful school in San Quintin. Trying to avoid work you might ask? I guess I forgot to tell you that this isn’t your regular microwavable popcorn, it was all made on the stove top! After our hours of work, the popcorn was gone in just minutes.Sitting on a tarp under the stars, watching Megamind on the side of the school, listening to the chomping of popcorn, and having kids giggle while sitting on your lap. That’s something that is irreplaceable. Much like any building project, in this case an ambulance station, we won’t fully understand how much of an impact we have just by setting aside a week to use our hands and feet to help others out. Today, while on the work site, one of the paramedic’s that’s helping us build this week received a message on his walkie-talkie about a car accident that happened: a car rolled 100 metres. The ambulance came to take the patients to the main hospital, which was hours away, and found out that one of them had passed away in the vehicle on the way.I will never know how much the four walls I’ve been building mean to them, but it feels good knowing that I’m helping to play my part. It’s not hard to pick up a tool and just do it, and trust me, if I can do it, anyone else can.Mucholovefrommexico,-sarah! : )
In the morning we (my famjam) helped the other SOLs with Day 2 of the ambulance build. Day one the SOL’s were very productive building the four walls. I was happy to be back and building. My dad was in heaven, he loves to do projects like this and Luke (my brother) always likes a challenge and loves to build stuff, so it was awesome. Mom and the babies (Holly and Griffin) tagged along to see where we’d be building and to experience the building atmosphere we have while at work. Although the workplace is not a place for children, Holly & Griff loved to play in the huge sand box (the desert road) along side the build. Day 2 we placed the frame of the roof onto the four walls, and started to cover the roof in plywood to start the roofing process; we also cut holes and placed the windows in the walls and screwed the metal in the walls into place. It was a productive day. It is weird but great to have my family here helping out. It’s an awesome mix of home and Mexico all in one. (:For dinner we ordered 2 JUMBO pizzas which are HUUUUUUGE. Later we watched MegaMind in Spanish at the San Quintin school. It was great to see the kids again! And I am so happy that my family had the opportunity to get to know some of the kids as well. It was a great night!Day 3 of the SOL build didn’t commence until around 10am, YAY! we got to sleep in… kinda. I was up at 7:30am so I guess I didn’t really get to sleep in. Once the work day started we began applying fiberglass panels to the outside walls of the Ambulance station and finishing screwing in the other half of the roof’s plywood. All in all it was another productive day. It’s so cool having my Dad around to help out and I even got to take advantage of his saw-abilities while I was on the roof needing some specially cut pieces of plywood. Luke has been a big help as well! He has been up to doing whatever he can to get the job done. Luckily he’s tall so he helped a lot with placing the roof structure on top of the walls of the building. It’s just so awesome having my family here with me in Mexico! After working until about 3 p.m. we returned to the big house where Ma and I started on dinner, Fetticcini Alfredo! I had to run to the store to get a few more veggies and then we began dinner prep. It was so much fun rocking out to Creed and Default while making dinner with my Ma, something I didn’t do enough back home. Once dinner was ready to eat, we waited until Julia, Edwin, Dawn and Anthonie showed up then we began to dig in. Dinner was DELISH!!Later that night Ma, Luke, Nettie, Der, Lee and myself played 6-way dutch blitz, BEST GAME EVER. Because there was six of us, we partnered up and it was a big tourney up to 200. It was soo much fun!Emily, a School of Leadership student living in Mexico
Giving to the Community of Vincente Guerrero, Mexico. SOL Build Day#1.
Giving to the Community of Vincente Guerrero, Mexico. SOL Build Day#1.
To you, it was Sunday, April 16th, 2011 – jus’ a regular ol’ Sunday. But for us LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)-rs down in Mexico…it was work day number one! And more importantly, for the volunteer paramedics from Vincente Guerrero – it was the first build day of their new centre. This week, we’re building an 8 x 8 foot building for a group of people that volunteer their time & effort to saving people. Ambulance services are privatized in Mexico, and there aren’t many. So in Vincente Guerrero, there’s a group of people that work as volunteers on a very small budget for saving a lot of lives.
After a morning of standard Hero Holiday sandwich making (you know we love our bimbo bread!) & packing lunch into the cooler, we grabbed our water bottles and headed for the site. This build is different than others for a few reasons – one of them being that the land we’re building on is just 5 minutes away!With the concrete pad so close, we got to the site quickly and jumped out of Gus (our trusty van), ready to build. Deryn, Sarah, Josh, Colin, Emily and I, alongside Nettie, Andrew, Dawn, Anthonie, and Santiago are working this week. All of us SOL’s are pretty excited about this project because it’s one that we’ll leave behind knowing we did as a team, a building that binds us all together a little more. Other reasons we’re excited? Well, this isn’t just ANY old build project – like I said, it’s different! This building isn’t just an experience for us SOL’s, it’s a learning experience for everyone involved. Usually, when you arrive at a build site, there are lots of people to meet, tool belts to put on, instructions to give, and work crews to join. But today, what met us wasn’t a family or any tools belts. Instead, we met Noe, his brother & father – our teachers for the day & the leaders of the build. Noe runs a steel construction company – he builds houses & buildings, out of steel rather than wood. So, rather than strap on tool belts and start hammering, we unloaded a trailer full of steel studs and set to laying out the framework.Using steel as an alternative to wood is an experiment we’re trying this week; and it involves some serious teaching because none of us have ever worked with it before! Although neither Noe or his family speaks that much English, they communicate well in what I’ve deemed ‘build site Spanglish’ – a mix of Spanish, hand gestures and Santiago translating! All day these 3 were really patient, teaching us & laughing with us, instructing us where to place screws and chalk lines.At first, I was really startled by how few tools there were. We only had one tool box, and there were more tape measures than anything else in it! But, as the day went on, I came to see that one of the benefits of steel built houses is that you only need a few items – power drills and screws are important, but those tape measures turned out to be our MVP – getting the screw on the line & into the stud is hard without them! Speaking of tools… holding a power drill feels pretty cool. Not only do you look really awesome, you can get A LOT of work done in a very short amount of time. Did I mention that you look REALLY AWESOME?! Another plus of power tools is that all day you don’t hear the sound of hammers banging – rather, the site sounds like…home to a Nascar PIT CREW! Which of course means that at least once, a race is necessary. Kudos to Nettie for beating Anthonie that one time! I was feeling pretty ‘superhero’d’ out with my special steel work gloves (all of us were issued a pair for maximum hand protection!) and my yellow drill – and a favourite phrase of Sarah’s, drill in hand? ‘If I can do this, anyone can do this!’The work seemed to go incredibly fast and by the end of the day, we had all 4 walls framed, sheeted, and standing! Plus, we’d had time for A LOT of joking, and some ice cream on the side. Noe & his family are involved with the Paramedicos and really care about the work they’re doing, both at the build site and in their ambulances – you can tell by the intent that they do it with and the care they put into each piece. Today was a collection day (the paramedics budget is made up of donations, with no extra funding. They wait at the busiest intersection in town and collect change from passing cars – so this is an important day of the month!) but at the end of their day, a couple of them in their crisp white shirts showed up, bearing cold drinks and smiles. The best thing about this build is that we get to work right in the community, close to home, and with people that really care about helping others – and for a cause that truly deserves it. These paramedics save upwards of 600 people a year, running off donations and often volunteering alongside other jobs. This building will mean they can move out of the space they rent & use that money for improved medical technology, as well as keep the ambulances running.Sunday, April 16th – day 1 for the Paramedico Pit crew (and the use of super cool power tools!) and we’re proud – the 4 walls of a better future are screwed in & raised.~ Leah, a School of Leadership student living in Mexico
I want to introduce to you a very important member of the LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Road Team 2. His name is Papi and like most of us, he is a work in progress and growing each and every day. Let me explain. Every time that we set up at a school and put on our Think Day presentations we use duct tape to hold cables down (so we don’t’ trip on them) and to hold together whatever it is that might have temporarily broken that day (i.e. guitar straps). After all is said and done and we’ve spent time hanging out with you after the show and all the gear has to come down, we are left with lots of bits of used up tape. So instead of just picking them up and putting them in the garbage, Alex decided that we would save each piece of tape and make a tape ball affectionately known to us as Papi (named after the popular iPod game series Papi Jump).Papi started off as just a little residue of tape, but now is almost as big as a volley ball andgetting bigger each and every day. By the end of tour Papi will likely be as big as a basket ball. As I sat back stage and snapped this quick photo of Papi near my guitar I was reminded of the popular quote coined by Mahatma Gandhi “be the change that you want to see in the world”.On the LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Tour we arrive at your schools hoping that our presentations will encourage and help at least one person. Sometimes we set up and go home and we really don’t know if we’ve made a difference in anybody’s life. But each of us at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) hopes that our efforts and our presentations are creating bits and pieces of change in the hearts of each of you. The type of change that we want to see in the world.I think the truth is that even though we can’t see the entirety of the connection that we make with you, that like Papi, if we were able to pick up visible and tangible pieces of change, that we would see that there is something real and amazing that is growing across Canada.At LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) we are committed to reminding all of you that your life is worth living and that that each of you has something special to give back to our world in your own beautiful and unique way. Everyone has a plan and a purpose and each of us needs to decide to work at taking up the challenge of becoming the change that we want to see in the world around us. To be the hands and feet of change – To realize the hope and potential in ourselves and others. To be responsible and help those who are marginalized and in need all around.Always remember – Love is the Movement.Jonny, member of Hearts in Stereo on the Road with Team 2
As of today, there are very few answers – only more questions. There will always be so much about the story that we will never know. How did she end up there? What led up to that moment? What was she thinking when it happened? Did she remember that there were people that loved her and that would never forget her? And, above all of them, the biggest question of all: why?Tyeshia Jones went missing from Duncan, B.C., early in the morning on Saturday, January 22, 2011. The community pulled together and by Monday morning, the desperate search for her was in full swing. Days later, the search ended in a painful and shocking discovery. Her body was found in the woods on Cowichan Tribes land on January 28. Tyeshia was 18.Her body was laid to rest on February 4 in Duncan. The community came out to share their grief and honour her brief, inspiring life. A few days later, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) was in Duncan, BC, invited to be a part of the event in Duncan called, “Take Back the Night”. Two thousand people gathered, to raise awareness and honour Tyeshia and several other girls in the Vancouver Island Aboriginal community that had been tragically murdered in recent months. There were drum circles, songs, and community spokespeople on the stage. Among those, by special invite, was Bondless, one of the bands currently on tour with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute).
When we arrived at the event we had no idea what to expect. Me and the guys were contacted by Tyeshia’s mother two weeks before and asked to be a part of the night. We just happened to be in town at the right time and were able to be there. We had met Tyeshia briefly at a concert we played a year before on Vancouver Island called ‘Alive Inside’. We may have only said two or three words to her and taken a picture, but still I remembered her and recognized her face.When it came time for the band to perform, we were introduced as “Tyeshia’s favourite music group”. When I heard that, it hit me like a brick. This girl I met briefly a year before had been following us the entire time. She was 18 years old when she died. There were grad pictures of her around the room that had been taken only a few months before her death. It made me really pay attention to how I treat the kids that are at our shows. Obviously, those few moments for Tyeshia meant so much more than I had realized. That night, hundreds of Tyeshia’s friends and school mates were at the event and we got to spend time with them just like we had with Tyeshia Jones. I realized just how much impact even a smile can have on someone. I think about Tyeshia every show now and I’ll never forget her story.
The bands that tour with us in the high schools across Canada are each passionate about why they do what they do. They are musicians with a gift to share, but they are also individuals choosing to make a difference with what they have. Bondless chose to invest in that event a year ago because they believed in the positive message that it was sending to everyone that came out: you matter. Each day we have the privilege of living our lives with the world around us. In the daily grind of what we do we can forget one very important detail about ourselves: how powerful our lives really are. Our choices, our treatment of others, our view of what we bring to the world leaves a lasting residue on those around us. Our life is but a breath in terms of time, but what we choose to do with that is what resounds long after we have been there. In some way, Tyeshia was impacted by her encounter with Bondless, and in some way, they were able to give back to her.When Bondless stood on that stage that night, they weren’t playing for the 2000 people they were looking out at. They were playing for Tyeshia, one final time.LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) road teams tour across Canada, working to create a movement of love, hope, and change. To find out more about our school assemblies and how you can get involved through our School of Leadership, check out www.livedifferent.com.
Yesterday we got to sleep in so that was a nice change. After breakfast we went back to the build site to dedicate the school. It felt good to be a part of something that could possibly change countless lives. We gave them a better and safer place to be educated and it felt great. After the dedication we got to play with kids for a short while and then we had to say our goodbyes. It was very hard to let go of our new friends that taught us so much about life. We came down to build them a school and a family a house. We built so much more than that, friendships and memories that we will always carry with us. We built them a new life. Later that day we went to the orphanage and played games with the kids. Cody and I took part in a game of marbles and got our butts whooped. The imagination and creativity of the children here are so much greater than the ones at home. Everyone has changed a little from being here, all of our hearts have been touched by someone. I will never forget the faces and new friendships I have made. I hope that I can come back one day and see them again.-Jeremy: Group Participant