Cauliflower & Real Talks

I found out that I was allergic to cauliflower the hard way and up-chucked my entire dinner in a mall parking lot tonight. I can’t sleep, so I’m hanging out with my brother, Mike, and having some “real talks”. Real talks are the down to earth, nitty gritty, feelings, life and all that kind of conversation – generally reserved for family and close friends.

I am lucky in the sense that I do get to be on the road with my band (Mosely), because they are my family. Mike is literally my family, but I’ve known Mat for about 10 years now. And though Tom is new to the picture, we’ve toured together twice before, and we’ve all become fast-friends, so we are all familiar with my “real talks” and how they make you stay up and think about things.

Even though I have so many people I love with me, I do still miss home. But every day I remind myself why I am doing this and when I take that moment I realize that I am loving so much about being on the road, and I have this incredible opportunity to impact people’s lives! I’ve had young guys and girls come up and tell me that they have been through some really horrible stuff, but that seeing our presentation and hearing our stories has given them hope. They tell me that they no longer feel like they’re alone in their situation. 
I have been there, too. 

I remember quite vividly coming home from middle school in tears after being taunted for not wearing the right clothes or for being the weird kid, which was actually because I took an interest in art. It wasn’t “cool” to be the artsy kid. I am so thankful that I was never successful in my attempts to end the pain that my school mates inflicted on me with their harsh words. Instead, I endured it. My mom and dad played a big role in that, they always encouraged me to stay true to myself, but I can’t ignore the way my little brother helped me. Mike was going through the same things I was, but he still looked up to me. He thought I was a pretty cool big sister, and that I was really popular. I don’t know how he got that idea in his head, but it made me want to fight for him. I couldn’t let him continue to be bullied the way I had been, I had to show him that it was okay to be yourself, and even more so… I had to be there. I needed to stick around for him and for me. So, when I hear that these students are being impacted by our presentations, and that their perspectives are being changed, and they’re starting to realize their worth and their purpose, I am inspired to continue to do what I do.

Thanks to my little brother and my amazing family, I went on to do great things; I graduated from an amazing arts high school, I got a diploma in Broadcast Television, I realized my love for music and started a band that I am truly proud of. I also continue to be interested in and pursue art, because that’s what makes me come alive. This tour has made me come alive in ways I was not aware even existed, and I am so truly thankful for it, all the amazing adventures, experiences and all the “real talks” it has allowed me to partake in.

Dani – Lead Singer of Mosely, LiveDifferent Team Two, Spring 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 26th, 2013

Carson Graham – An Amazing Adventure

Today was an amazing adventure, we started off the day with an hour drive to a beach in a small bay. We spent all day tanning on the sand and drinking piña coladas (virgin ones, of course). We swam and snorkelled along the shore and saw tiny fish almost everywhere.

Later in the day, we took a small boat ride down a canal. From there we went to a reptile zoo, and as soon as we got there the owner brought out 8 week old puppies. One of the boys that worked there was joking around and pretended to feed a puppy to a crocodile; I screamed my face off as tears ran down my cheeks. I really believed he was going to do it, but he was just kidding. We finished off the day with a yummy dinner on the beach.

This trip has been just as amazing as last years, full of laughter, hope, and many tears. I will always remember this trip in a part of my heart. The Dominican has been so life changing and has given me many different outlooks on the world. The trip is nearing an end but I’m just as excited to be home and continue my journey to help.

Megan – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Domincan Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 22nd, 2013

Carson Graham – Keys for a couple and caring for people

Today was a very hard and emotional day. We did the dedications for the dental clinic at monkey jungle, as well as Freddie and Mamas new home. We all got onto our busses at one o’clock and went to the dental center. The final project was so amazing it warmed my heart, everyone there was so happy and full of life. Chuck and Candy, the operators of Monkey Jungle where we were building the dental clinic, were both so happy about what we all accomplished there. I can’t put into words how it felt to walk into a room that would be saving peoples lives and helping people in need who never got the care they truly deserved, and then on top of that knowing that I contributed in making that happen. I am forever changed and will see things with such a different attitude and mindset, I am hoping to take that home with me and keep those thoughts and memories with me for the rest of my life. A couple of people were chosen to prepare a few words for Chuck and Candy as well as the head dentist at the clinic. Listening to what the people had written inspired me and made me so emotional. It was so nice to see those three people’s faces light up as well as everyone around them who contributed to make this all happen.

After saying goodbye and our thank you’s to everyone there, we hopped back on the bus and went down to Mama and Freddie’s new home. I will never forget coming down the last road before Freddie and Mama’s house, and seeing the house that just the day before was incomplete had become a beautiful turquoise home. It looked like the house that Freddie and mama deserved to spend their lives in. Once we got off the bus we all went to hug Freddie and Mama. They were so unbelievably happy. I have never seen anyone so genuinely happy in my entire life. It brought so much joy and emotion to me and everyone else who worked so well as a team to make this all happen. After everyone settled in we did our second round of appreciation, and It was so overwhelming. Everyone there was crying, some tears of joy, and some people were just so changed and moved – it was impossible not to be. The things people wrote for the translators and mama and Freddie were amazing. After the appreciation we all had cake and talked to all the translators and workers and said thank you and gave them our hugs and goodbyes. One of the things that impacted me most today was just before we left, we were all saying bye to Freddie and he started to cry. I have never felt anything like that in my entire life, seeing that made me feel every single emotion all at once and it was so overwhelming and moving. We got on the bus and left watching their house get smaller and smaller as we drove away. Everyone was so emotional when we left but once we had been driving for a while we did appreciations for each other which made everyone very happy and positive. It was great seeing everyone who had put blood, sweat, and tears into this experience become happy and realize what a positive impact we had all made.
I couldn’t have picked a better group of people to have gone on a trip like this with. I really enjoyed becoming such close friends with people I had hardly ever talked to as well as strengthening the bonds I already had with my very close friends. This has without a doubt been one of the best experiences that I have ever had in my life. I would like to say my biggest thank you to Mr. Olson for believing in me and bringing me on this trip and helping everyone and motivating everyone in every way possible. I have full respect for him as a teacher and a mentor, as well as a man. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Nettie and Cole for this amazing opportunity and giving me a chance to experience all of this and become a better person. I hope I can take everything I learned on this trip to my life back in Canada and apply it to my daily life and not take so many things for granted. Lastly I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came with me on this trip, you’re all very amazing and unique people and I respect all of you. Thank you for letting me take part in such and amazing experience with all of you and for being such amazing people to me. I am so thankful for this experience and will be for the rest of my life.
Andrew – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent


Carson Graham – The Ultimate Thrill

There’s nothing better than working together, alongside a group of people all for a common purpose. A rush of wanting and needing to complete the task overwhelms, and in that moment nothing feels better. I sometimes find myself complaining at home, whether it’s about school, work, or ‘there’s no food in my fridge’. On this trip, I’ve come to realize all of those are trivial and I should be so grateful. In the Dominican and many other parts of the world, there are kids who can’t go to school, Haitians who work in garbage dumps in order to make an income, and families that don’t even own proper refrigerators since they only get electricity 4 hours a day. 

The people here in the Dominican have made a great impact on me. All of those involved on both worksites and at the dump will always bring me fond memories and crazy emotions. Today, the Monkey Jungle crew drove down to the farm and we were able to check out the cows, pigs, birds, et cetera. What really stuck out to me were the two young boys who live in the house adjacent to the farm. Once we got out of the truck and checked out the the animals, the boys were hanging out and goofing around. When we were transferring over to the area that houses the pigs, we spotted a cryptic old doll’s head with one eye and a bald spot on the ground in front of us. We then heard giggling coming from the young boys and realized that they had put the head there! I couldn’t stop laughing, I thought it was so hilarious. We then got back on the truck and they chased after us, and you could tell they were having so much fun.
Even though they don’t have some of the material goods we had when we were kids, they’re still able to have a good time and be so full of life and joy. I feel that I have learned so much from them, and before the trip that wasn’t something I was expecting. I see how the boys smiled when we were with them, and so I feel that we have influenced them as well, which gives me the ultimate thrill. This LiveDifferent trip has made me feel things I’ve never experienced before and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I don’t want it to end!

Sophie – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 21st, 2013

Carson Graham – Things to Ponder…

Today was interesting! I really enjoyed my time at the medical clinic today! The mixing of the concrete was tough as usual and personally I have never seen a bigger concrete mix than the one we made today! The two different sites are very different from each other because of their location. Mama and Freddy’s house is completely remote from many other houses in the area. Monkey Jungle is some distance away, however with the medical clinic being so important it becomes a distance people are willing to travel. I had a weird moment today also, when I was hungry and I chose to buy a twix bar. This made me stop and think, because I didn’t realize how easy and normal it seemed for me to stop and buy a chocolate bar, but then I felt a sense of guilt come over me when I thought about how out of the ordinary it would be for Mama and Freddy. This was something so insignificant, but helped me see the reality of what poverty really means for so many people. Even more motivation to finish the clinic which will help thousands in the future!

The weather was amazing today, but that also comes with the consequence of it being really hot! The sun is something that I don’t think that I will ever get tired of. I am impressed with the ability of many of the site workers to wear long pants. I remember in the past someone told me while I was in Ecuador that the reason why they wear pants and not shorts is because they are used to the heat. I guess I understand.

With this being my third trip and my second one to the Dominican Republic, I have to address the comparisons between the trips. With Mexico being very different in many ways it is hard for me to make many connections although the two Dominican trips are very different. In my last trip I was building a latrine for a small village and this time a house for a beautiful couple. These projects are different yet similar in their own ways. I have really enjoyed both these trips although I credit the first one as being the most life-changing experience as it was the first time I was exposed to extreme poverty. This evening is the movie in a village and my recollection is that it will be truly amazing for both myself and the others with me!

Lucas – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013


Author: LiveDifferent


Carson Graham – Day 6 – In Their Shoes

Today was a hard day. As a group we saw a lot of difficult things and worked alongside some very strong people. Today we went and worked in a garbage dump to pick out recyclables. This activity is called In Their Shoes, because it is able to give us a bit of a glimpse at how some of the people live. 

When we drove into the dump the first thing I noticed was the flies. Then the smell. And then the size. And then the people. I had never been to a garbage dump before, so I had no idea what to expect. The dump was much bigger than I had pictured, and very flat with most of the ground covered in trash. When we got off the buses a couple kids came over and stood by us. One little boy walked over and grabbed my hand. He became my partner for the next few hours!

Before we came we were told that many Haitians and Dominicans worked in the garbage dump and that it was hard labour. These are the types of people that you may think of when you think about poverty. But seeing it in person was so different than hearing a number or a fact. These people have names, faces, families, and stories. The boy I worked with was only 10 years old and his name was Manuel. What we needed to do was to search through the garbage for plastic bottles that he could trade in for money for his family. 10 year old is so young to have that kind of a responsibility. When he told me his age I thought back to my brother at home who is almost the same age and I couldn’t imagine him being in this place. I hate that, how there is such a disparity in the world. How some kids can live easily and go to school and play sports, while others like Manuel have to work in a dump. From the dump you could also see a beautiful view. This made me think of how often we go on vacation to places of poverty but don’t see beyond what is in front of our eyes. There is so much beauty, but there is also so much poverty. And this is something a lot of people can’t see or choose not to acknowledge. 

What stood out to me was how young and innocent this boy was and how fast he had to grow up. While we were working he seemed so sure of himself and confident. We were waking down the road when a military man drove by. Manuel stood very close to me and held my hand again. I hope that today I was able to show him that people care about him and that it’s ok for him to still be a little boy. But at the end of the day we went back to our resort and Manuel went back to his home. I may have helped him a bit but this will probably be his job for most of his life and that hurts. 

Finally The moment the stood out to me the most, and made me the most sad and angry about this life was when the translator was asking him some questions for me. I asked him what he liked to do for fun, and he didn’t understand what that meant. This broke my heart. How could a 10 year old boy not know what fun is. After a lot of explaining he told me that he liked to listen to music. This cheered me up because music is something important to me too. This is also something he can have forever. While we were working so many people were singing and it really helped make the day a little bit better. I think this experience was one of the most eye opening I have ever had. I really loved being able to help out Manuel and really feel what it was like to be a Haitian or Dominican in poverty. 

Sarah – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent


A little motivation goes a long way

My first contact with LiveDifferent was when they came to my high school and the motivation that they brought with them was just what my small town needed, and just what I needed. The motivational production that they performed in my school spoke to me very loudly. I was able to recognize the value and worth that my life had and the incredible things that I was truly capable of. I am proud to say that I am among one of many students who have been touched by this incredible movement.

A little while after seeing the presentation I had the opportunity to take my involvement with LiveDifferent even further. My principle, Ms. Wilson, gave me the opportunity to go on a Hero Holiday with her and other students from my school. It was something I was not about to pass up! What made my Hero Holiday experience even more incredible was that I got to spend it with my Nana and my best friend Courtney. I will never forget the amazing experience that Hero Holiday gave me and I will never forget the family that I was able to provide a safe home for. Throughout all of that, I met people who influenced my life greatly and I couldn’t thank them enough for that. I had the opportunity to share incredible moments with people who have such big, loving hearts. LiveDifferent has played a huge part in my life so far and I am so privileged to be a part of something so amazing.
Coming into the LiveDifferent Academy I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I was going to be traveling to Mexico and doing lots of humanitarian work and then touring across Canada doing motivational presentations, but I don’t think I really thought about what I would truly experience on this amazing journey I’m on. I can say that the LiveDifferent Academy has exceeded all of my expectations above and beyond what I ever thought I could have gotten out of this. I have experienced things that I never would have if I chose another path after high school, and I have accomplished so much more than I thought I really could. I feel like my life got completely transformed and I have put myself on a better path by taking that first step and joining LiveDifferent. I have met so many inspiring people and have had the privilege to see lives change and to contribute to that change. I have experienced so many rewarding things during my time with LiveDifferent so far and I only hope to continue this incredible journey through other things in my life. Having the opportunity to become a voice of change is something that is absolutely incredible to me and I cherish every moment of it.
Being able to have the ability everyday to change people’s lives and allow them to see the value that their life has is something that I cannot even begin to describe. Having the chance to have meaningful and purposeful conversations with students and billets and my team members is something that I am grateful for each day. Actually seeing the impact that we are making on students and the world is absolutely breathtaking and makes me so proud of all the people involved in this. Looking back on my life and reminiscing about all the memories and being reminded of everything I have been through so far is the reason I love doing this and being a part of such a powerful movement is so awesome. 
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to live in Mexico, where I was able to instill hope in the lives of families, experience what it’s like to live in poverty and make memories that nothing else could ever compare to. And now, being on the road is allowing me to do that in my own home country. I am able to connect with students, share my passion with others, send the message that every life has incredible value, and encourage others to help this world become a better place. I am so blessed to have had such an incredible path carved out for me and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to succeed at it with without the support and encouragement of my friends and family, as well as the awesome Mexico facilitators and road team leaders. This has been a once in a life time opportunity and it is going to be something I will never forget!
Chey – LiveDifferent Academy Student, 2012/2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 20th, 2013

Carson Graham – Day 5, still on the worksite!

Today was another eventful day on the worksite!  After breakfast we loaded back up on the trucks and headed out. The worksite is surrounded by beautiful forest and palm trees, and there are chickens running around everywhere!

We picked up where we left off yesterday creating long assembly lines to bring “caliché” and sand into the house mixing endless mounds of concrete. It’s hard work but everyone works together and smiles through the tougher times with the motivation that we want to finish the house for Mama and Freddie. They are really amazing people and it seems that they are sort of the heart of the community.

The team has really started to become closer and better friends over the course of this trip as well.  After a few hours we drove up to meet the other half of the group at monkey jungle for lunch, and once we were refueled, we went back to the worksite and continued. It was hotter today, but we were briefly relieved by some cool rain in the morning. In the afternoon we were visited by some local kids and we played frisbee and soccer together, despite the language barrier, which was fun. So far this trip has been an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to the rest!  

Taylor – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 18th, 2013

Carson Graham – First Day at the Worksite

Today was our first day at the worksites! 10 of us were at Monkey Jungle, working on a dental clinic, and the rest of us were building for Mama, a woman in one of the villages that LiveDifferent partners with. I was building for Mama, and boy, was that hard work. We made cement, carried cinder blocks, and had endless assembly lines of various rocks, sand, and something in between the two.

I thoroughly enjoyed working and giving my all, but it was Mama’s beautiful, radiant smile that kept me going. Seeing the people that our blood, sweat, and tears are going to help makes it impossible to give in to fatigue or pain.

After working, we hung around the resort, ate dinner, debriefed, and did some karaoke. It was a ton of fun and I definitely over-stayed my welcome on the stage, that’s for sure! Nevertheless, it was a great day full of work, smiles and laughs, leaving me to fall more in love with the Dominican Republic. The country is stunning, the people are incredible and I couldn’t be happier. It’s only the first couple days and I cannot wait to see what else this beautiful place has in store for us all!

Chloe – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic 2013

Author: LiveDifferent


Carson Graham Awareness Tour

Today was an absolutely incredible day. First we visited a school LiveDifferent built and played with all the students. They were so happy to play with us, even though they were much better than us at basketball! Afterwards, we took the bus to the village of La Union, where the people who work at the garbage dump lived. As our bus pulled up, tons of kids began running after our bus, so excited to see us. I felt so welcomed. Once we got off the bus, kids grabbed our hands, wore our sunglasses, and climbed onto our shoulders.

We began to walk through the village, and a little girl named Samantha saw me and came running into my arms. I carried her through the village as she sang and laughed. When the sad time came to leave, I attempted to put her down and she locked her legs around me. It took me pulling and one of the translators tickling Samantha for her to finally give in! As we pulled away on our buses the kids once again ran behind and it was such a warm, welcoming feeling. I will never forget how welcomed and joyous those children made me feel!

–  Isabella – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic 2013

Author: LiveDifferent