Home Will Never Be The Same

This week has definitely been one of ups and downs and many contrasts.  But one thing is for certain, each and every one of our academy girls have embraced this week for all that it’s worth.  Although this whole experience is a simulation, they have shown nothing less than grace, and perseverance.   The end of Day 7 is drawing near, and I’m sure that as soon as they are all back in their comfy, warm house, our girls will be updating their facebook statuses and writing blogs about what this week has meant to them personally.  So for now, here is a small preview of what they have been living and what has been in their hearts and on their minds the last 6 days:

“We worked in the fields again today, picking raspberries once again.  The morning went well, I definitely got better since yesterday.  For lunch we had hard-boiled eggs and pancakes again, and Santi gave us each two burritos!! So great!  After eating, Heather, Meagan, and I talked to a fifteen year old girl named Marta.  She was very sweet.  It’s her week off from school so she was working for the week to bring in some extra money.  She told us that she wanted to become a doctor or a psychologist and asked us what we wanted to be too.”

– Jordyn

“Early in the morning, around 4:00am we were all woken up to the sound of rain.  It was a light rain so Chels and Meagan covered the firewood and brought in the dishes.  We decided to go back to bed since it wasn’t raining very much but we were woken up again at 6:00am.  It was a lot more rain than the first time and our roof started to leak.  There was a good 5 minutes of panic as all of us threw our stuff into bags, trying to keep everything dry.  We also put bowls in the shack where it was leaking and bailed out the roof.  It was a very eventful morning.”

– Taylor

“It was a moonless sky with an amazing infinity of stars.  It got me in the perfect mindset because it was cold and I was secretly dreading clamming.  It was really cold and we were all bundled up.  We had to change into our shorts and T-shirts from our pants and multiple sweaters.  The ground and air were freezing, the water felt warm in comparison.  I actually loved clamming.  I got 5ish clams in one spot and a total of 18 at the other spot.  It’s great because my goal was 5 clams.  I got 1.5 dozens!  So proud.”

– Meagan

“I don’t know how to explain this all to people, if it’s even possible.  And then what to do about it.  What to change or alter in my life.  I think as a sum up, it was hard work but so amazing and fun and totally worth it.  Such a great learning experience.  It really opened my eyes to how others live.  How hard it is, but also how they’re happy.  I saw all the differences but also the similarities.  I can survive a week but couldn’t have without my family (these girls)  and will have such a greater appreciation for all I am blessed with.”


“Trying to budget our money and come up with affordable meals that are filling while also budgeting for daily expenses and surprise payments is tough.  Also, although I am enjoying this week and am determined to get the most of it I can feel my body wearing down as each day passes.  Which is crazy because it’s only been 3 days, nowhere near a lifetime of this.  Shout-out to all of the girls for keeping such positive attitudes and energies and helping make this experience so much better and enjoyable.”

– Tianna

“I worked by myself today which was nice because I had lots of thinking time.  Thought about the fact that this is day 6.  Where did the time go?  I have this insane new found appreciation for so much.  I saved a rock from today for a reminder of this week.  About how thankful I am for food, clothes, a shower etc.  To have the ability to have a good paying job.  I have mixed feelings on the week coming to an end.  I’m going to miss aspects of it.  Like the fact of how generous and caring our community is. We were looking at bread prices at the store, but didn’t buy any and the next thing you know, the store owner shows up asking if they can give us bread.  I love the warmth of the people here. I also love how hardworking we’ve all been this week.  Our spirits were constantly high and we’re always trying our hardest.  I can’t believe we got 17 buckets of rocks today!  We worked hard and all have something to be proud of and to remember.”

– Chelsea

– LiveDifferent Academy Students, Spring 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 29th, 2014

My First Impressions

When I signed up for the Dominican trip I had no idea what to expect. As the countdown progressed, talking to others who had been on the trip in the past helped me to form a broader idea of what the trip was about. 

When I stepped off the plane on Saturday afternoon, my first impression was that it was hot. Saturday night was mostly spent getting to know each other, and learning names. It’s amazing how quickly 27 students from different grades, social groups, and interests can come together and bond. 
Sunday morning I realized it’s a lot easier to wake up early if it’s 30 degrees, sunny, and you can hear the ocean. That morning we had our first experience in the Dominican culture. Church in the DR is very different from church at home, but I still found it quite interesting. The entire service was in Spanish, but the language barrier didn’t stop us from appreciating how faith travels across boarders. One thing that really struck me as we drove to and from the church, especially because this was my first Dominican outreach experience, was how friendly all the people are. We would wave to them from the truck and the were just so happy to see us and would wave and smile back. I remember looking around and just being amazed by their culture and their outlook on life. 
That afternoon, we took out first trip to the job site, and met the community pastor and the family we’re building the house for. The family was so deserving. The grandmother had prayed for months to get a new house, and had a series of dreams about a new house before she found out she was getting one. The two little girls were super cute and all three of them were just very happy and grateful, despite their circumstances. It shocked me, but at the same time made me really happy. We started working on the house in the afternoon, and worked hard as a team to get done what needed to be done. We also played with the kids, who were constantly smiling and so happy. I was playing with one of the little girls, I let her play with my gloves, and she was so happy just to play with my gloves. How little made her so happy amazed me and made me realize what a privileged life I live back in Canada. 
One of the somewhat lighter moments of the day was lifting a piece of concrete to find a tarantula, the size of a large hand, crawling out. Naturally everyone freaked out and ran out of the house, and one of the contractors had to kill it. Needless to say, our group does not like spiders. 
On the way home from the site, we stopped at two houses that our school had built in the past. For those that had been on the trip in the past, and had built those houses, the emotion on their faces was evident and how much it meant to them to see the families again. The families were ecstatic to see those who had built their house, and were still very appreciative and grateful to them. 
Day one and two of our trip was filled with new experiences and learning opportunities that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. 

Julia, LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Gonzaga Trip, 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 28th, 2014

Open Hearts

One month – five groups – and ten families receiving homes.


Coming to Mexico I had never been on a Hero Holiday – and here I was preparing to help lead them! I was both nervous and excited; nervous because I knew what to expect from talking with friends who had been on one, but I knew that it was going to be a much bigger experience than words could explain. I was excited not only to meet the groups and families, but to finally feel the amazing feeling I had heard so much about – the feeling of being a part of something so much bigger than yourself.


Uleimi – this is the name of the three year old girl that was part of the family of the first house build that I helped with, and the little girl that completely stole my heart! I love kids, and I knew working on the build sites that there would be kids to play with, but Uleimi was different.

Our first few days of building Uleimi and her younger brother Efrain were shy and were more hesitant to come play with many of us while their older brother Eberic was right there helping and playing. As a day or two passed the two younger ones began to come around – and that is when I found myself with a constant attachment or “appendage” as our house build leader joked. There were times when I would pick Uleimi up and she would just put her head on my shoulder and I could feel her completely relax in my arms; and there were other times when I would be hammering and I could see her watching so I would invite her to come and help me and she would run into my lap and proceed to hammer the nail I had started. Little moments like these are what hold my heart and made this experience so special to me.


Dedication day – the day that we give the family the keys to their new home and the day we have to say goodbye and wish them well with the hopes that we will have the chance to come back and see them again one day. Talking to Georgina, playing with Eberic, Uleimi laughing and smiling, Efrain’s huge smile when we were playing and him finally coming and giving me a hug – all of these moments were running through my head as we share with the family about what they have done for us. We may have built them a house but they have treated us like family and welcomed us into their lives, changing our lives in this process. This was one of the hardest days of the entire trip for me. Now that may seem strange seeing as we built a house in four days but let me tell you, dedication day is draining. Its an amazing day – seeing the family in their new home, the joy on their faces, but it is also tough finding a way to say goodbye. It amazed me how much I loved this family that I had spent 5 days with.

The second house build I helped with was a completely different experience than my first one. This dynamic came as a bit of a surprise to me. We were completing the same task but the family and group brought such a different experience. The connections I made with this family were much different than my first, but just as unique and again I fell in love with this family. They were so incredible, and taught me a lot about the importance of family.


Seeing the contrast in both builds that I was able to be a part of showed me how although we may be doing the same things, the connections you make with people and the different things each person can teach you make both experiences completely unalike! No matter how many times you may do something if you go into it with an open mind and an open heart the people you meet will teach you something new every time.

We went back and visited the first family I build for just the other day and I got to see Uleimi again. When we got there she was shy again and was hiding behind her mom and I was worried that she didn’t remember me but as we were leaving I opened my arms for her, she came and I scooped her up and was welcomed by a huge embrace. I didn’t have to say anything but she knew how special she was to me. That connection has changed me forever, and saying goodbye this time was even harder than dedication day – but leaving knowing they have a house to sleep in tonight makes it a lot easier.


– Tianna, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Spring 2014


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 17th, 2014

The Little Things in Hand

Motivation – Inspiration – and the little things you just might miss. I believe those are the things – regarding your personal growth – that tour is all about.
Tour is a very busy life and you can miss a lot of significant things as you wiz by town after town. Only staying in most places for two nights and flying through school after school; meeting person after person can be like trying to catch an insect on a roller coaster – not too easy. So I did a bit of an experiment: I spent 5 days really noticing the little moments and looking for them and then I spent another 5 days without looking for them, making a full ten days. I kept a journal that I wrote in to mark the observations of this experiment. Here are some of my findings:
Day one – The little moments
I have always seen myself as someone who recognized the “little moments.” But now as I am really trying to notice them I have to wonder what little moments really are. Having a bus ride ahead of me I have time to think about it before the day really begins.
So, this is what I came up with. The definition of “little moments” is the things in your day to day life that can surprise you, make you in awe, and be one of the biggest moments in your day, but are little in the fact that they seem so insignificant that they can be passed. But if only they are looked at they can change your day, or world so quickly.
The little moments of my day: the way the sun shines so brightly through the clouds today, as I walked through the hallway of the school many students smiled back at me, and as I talked in front of a huge group of students one student sitting off to the side looked me straight in the eyes with a shyness that turned to confidence as I returned her glance with a smile.
Just reading these moments back to myself they seem so stupid and unimportant, but when I really think of them, close my eyes and play them back, I can’t help but smile foolishly.
Day Six– Just the big moments
Since tour isn’t what you would call a normal, common type of day big moments are not uncommon, unlike my high school and lazy summer days were a big moment was a once in a life­ time thing. Yet, a big moment is still something that doesn’t always happen. Today, however, one did. Yay!
The big moment of the day was that a student came up to me and talked to me about some of the difficulties he was experiencing in his life. We talked for a little while about it and I gave him as much encouragement as I could. He said that the presentation was something that he really needed in his life and “wham!” there is my big “we are changing lives!” moment.
Today I was just looking for the big moments and I started to miss things. Without trying to notice the little moments I really did start to feel “momentless”. Sure, I had that big moment today, but there are so many minutes in a day that were not filled with moments. I could barely stand it and to be honest the experiment failed because on the bus ride home from the show I started to search for those amazing little moments.  
Big moments are amazing and they can shock you to the bone. But, the little moments are the important ones, because they are the ones that happen day­to­day. They are the moments that fill the hours with memories and fill the minutes with smiles and fill the seconds with laughter.
When you are living in a bus with eight other people going to show day after day it can be easy to fall into this routine where you do what you gotta do and that is all. But, when I think about it there has not been one day that is the same, each day is amazing in its own way. So I look out the window and look for natures little wonders. And I look into each persons face in the sea of faces to see the moment of change in their eyes.
Victoria, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Spring 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 9th, 2014

Tour life is interesting.

Tour life is interesting.

Not quite like normal life at all. It’s almost a surreal experience, and it’s flying by so quickly. Waking up at five in the morning to drive an hour and a half to a school, set up, do a show, and interact with new people every single day… it’s really amazing.

Our team has very quickly become a weird, quirky little family. We all have little things that add to the group dynamic, and make everything that make everything on tour much more awesome.

Every day we do the same thing, and going into tour I thought I would very quickly get sick of what I was saying, and what I was hearing all the time. Looking at it now half way through tour, I don’t think I could get sick of it. Seeing kids’ reactions to what we do each day, and seeing how amazing they all think it is, is the best possible thing I could see. It makes what we do worth it, even though we see the same thing every single day, we have a new group of students to inspire daily.

At one school we went to, there was one grade twelve student, who asked if he could go up on stage at the end of the show because he wanted to share something with his fellow students. He took the mic from Brittany and walked bravely to the middle of the stage and began to share his story. He talked about how his life wasn’t as good as everybody in the school thought it was, and how he had been hiding a lot of stuff about his life. The student went on to talk about how his life at home was rough for a while in the past, and that he hadn’t been the best person he could be.  As he was sharing his story, everyone in the audience was listening so intensely, and I don’t know about everyone else, but my eyes were definitely tearing up. The student was still on stage, talking about how you should never underestimate yourself, and how each one of the kids in the audience has the power to do anything they set their minds to. At the end of his story, he got a standing ovation from his school. Such an amazing thing to see, students were walking up to him after he was off stage and in the cafeteria, and just giving him hugs and telling him how amazing he is.

Seeing a student who had just seen the show, be so inspired that he wanted to go up and tell the student body how much the show affected him and how he was there for anybody who needed help was mind blowing.  It was a really cool way to see how the show affects kids every kid differently. It was also a really good reminder that, though there may be some shows where not all of the kids seem super into what we’re saying, and what we’re there to do… as long as we affect one kid, it’s all worth it.

– Jordin, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Spring Tour 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 2nd, 2014