WestJet and LiveDifferent join for a Christmas Miracle

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already seen WestJet’s Spirit of Giving video. (If you haven’t had a chance to view it yet, take a moment to watch it below. It’s inspiring, heartfelt, and might just bring up some tears of joy!) 

First of all, we’d like to say that LiveDifferent is extremely grateful for the many years of partnership we’ve had with WestJet as their first international Community Investment charity. Over the years, they’ve made a tangible difference by engaging over 200 of their own employees on LiveDifferent Builds in the Dominican Republic, and through their gifts of flight that help our staff administer our international programs. We’re very excited to continue with WestJet in their commitment to us and to the communities we work in for many years to come. 

It was this commitment that led to WestJet’s decision to share the Christmas spirit with the community of Nuevo Renacer in a way they will never forget. 

“The WestJet holiday video has become a tradition for us, an opportunity for WestJetters to enrich lives through our fun and caring culture,” said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Sales Marketing and Guest Experience. “Having shared the holiday spirit last year with our guests in Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary, as well as with the millions people around the world who watched the video, we decided to celebrate Christmas this year with a community that is near and dear to our hearts.

In addition, since WestJet expected some questions regarding their partnership with LiveDifferent, as well as how they choose Nuevo Renacer as the setting for this year’s “Christmas Miracle”, they put together this behind-the-scenes video. 

We at LiveDifferent love the heart behind WestJet’s Christmas Miracle, and we couldn’t be more proud of how they connected with the local community in a way that was humble, caring, and respectful. By consulting directly with the community leaders to identify the families and individuals who had the greatest need, WestJet’s community investment team ensured that those who really were wishing for a miracle this Christmas actually received one. In addition, by hosting their Winter Wonderland Party, and gifting the community with a safe, accessible playground, WestJet provided a way for all of the residents of Nuevo Renacer to benefit from this year’s Christmas Miracle. 

In the words of LiveDifferent’s Executive Director, Charles Roberts: 

“Bringing the spirit of Christmas to this community was an extraordinary idea that took extraordinary effort. WestJet’s genuine desire to enrich the lives of those in the WestJet world extends to this community too. Providing a memorable and fun experience that celebrates the spirit of Christmas with no strings attached, is something that WestJet did with excellence and careful consideration. We are thrilled to have a partner who shares a deep conviction to value and care for people as their first priority.”

If you’re interested in joining LiveDifferent on a trip to the Dominican Republic, or to any of our host countries, Click Here

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 28th, 2014

The best things about Mexico

Mexico is a beautiful country with great diversity. Here in the state of Baja California you can find volcanoes, mountains, desert, ocean and possibly the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Though all of this is fantastic and certainly desirable, they are far from my favourite part of Mexico.  For me, the true beauty lies within the hearts of the people; their stories, their smiles, their laughter and their happiness. 
This is what makes the Academy experience so special and important. In my time here I have come to know many members of the community, some better than others. I could already speak Spanish prior to arriving here, which has helped me make connections with the local people, and I have been doing my best to take full advantage of it. 
There is a woman named Ilda who sometimes comes to help out with the cooking at the house. She has the most welcoming and warm smile to greet everyone with. Whenever she’s here I lean over the counter and chit-chat while she cooks. She tells me stories about her son, and her husband who lives in the States, and just the day to day things. I tell her about my day and we gossip and laugh. It seems so normal and simple. Some days our easy chatter and laughter leads into more serious talks; she tells me about how hard it is to be twenty-three while still trying to finish high school and take care of her 4 year old son and work as well. She faces challenges every day and yet always greets me with that same smile. She is filled with joy and is always interested to hear about my life. It’s so staggering and humbling to think about the normal conversations we have, the similarities between us, and yet how far apart the worlds we come from are. 
On Thursday mornings I load into a van with two other LDA’s and we head to a senior’s care home in nearby Vicente Guerrero. The first few times I felt anxious, but now I have found a part about it that I love. One of the ladies that works there has such interesting stories about her life. She has faced so many tragedies and yet holds so much hope for her future and that of her kids as well. She’s very open with us and offers up her tales and answers all of our questions. She inspires me to believe that no matter what happens in my life I should always have hope for tomorrow. She’s one of those people who inadvertently makes you stop and think about your actions, your beliefs, and your life. 
Now this next one might sound a little silly…but this week I found out that the kids I teach English to actually know my name. That was huge for me, even though it’s so small. My teaching partner was sick and the kids asked after him by name. They worried about if he was okay and asked if I was sick too. They seemed genuinely concerned. I worry about them and love spending time with them but it had never occurred to me that they might worry about me and enjoy spending time with me just as much. That day in class has been one of my favorites so far. When I took the kids outside to play a game the girls clung to me and were sad to see me go at the end. It’s nice to know that me being there might be touching their lives in a way more than just teaching them a bit of English. 
As part of a new part of Academy this year we go to a “host family” every Thursday afternoon and evening. Our host family has us cook and eat with them, they take us to Zumba class, and really just hang out with us. It’s generally the highlight of my week. Our host family is incredibly sweet and welcoming. They show a lot of concern for us and are always asking us things about our lives and trying to makes us feel included. They let us sit in on their family life, which on its own an incredible thing, but then they also do their best to make us feel a part of it. This Thursday our host mom and I sat and talked for a while about how hard it is to get a visa into the United States and Canada for a Mexican. The injustice of it all tears at my heart strings. I wish the governments could see the heart and joy of the people I know here and reconsider their opinions for them. 
Our days in Mexico are numbered now and I plan on making each one of them count. I don’t know exactly what I came here for or if I’ve found it yet, but I know that things for me have irrevocably changed. I have a new outlook on this beautiful country and I know that when I leave a little part of me will stay here, with the people I have met and shared with and befriended.
– Carrington, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Fall 2014

Author: LiveDifferent


Giving is Getting

Most of us forget that poverty exists. We forget as we pull out our phones to get updated on Facebook, as we drive in our air conditioned vehicles, as we contemplate whether or not to purchase a new piece of clothing. 
I used to forget about poverty. When I was a child, it was a fact that I would be educated until I graduated from high school. There were no ‘ifs’ nor ‘buts’ about it. It was a fact that I would be fed three nutritious meals a day – I have never in my life gone to bed hungry. It was a fact that if I got sick or hurt myself, I would have access to healthcare. 
After the LiveDifferent Academy’s house build, I will never forget about poverty. During our build, I met Elizabeth, a nine year old girl, who is one of the children of the family we built for. She deserves to have all of the opportunity in the world. However, due to circumstances that she was born into, it is not all available for her. 
It is not a fact that she will be educated until she graduates. While she is currently in school, she does not have her birth certificate—a surprisingly common occurrence—which is needed to attend high school. It is not a fact that she will be fed three nutritious meals per day. As her father’s work in the fields is seasonal the food that they can afford is limited. Elizabeth’s diet consists mostly of salsa and quesadillas, and I would not be surprised if she has gone to bed hungry before. It is not a fact that if she gets hurt or sick that she will have the access to health care she needs. If a family can hardly afford food, what can they do to pay the medical bills? 
It was such a privilege to give Elizabeth’s family have a hand-up to break out of their cycle of poverty by helping to build them a home. As we dedicated the house to them, tears were streaming down her face. She may be forever grateful to us for what we gave her family, but I am sure that all of us who built are forever grateful for the lesson that she and her family taught us – that any one of us can be a part of making a difference in someone’s life, and sparking the change that will now continue to happen for her family. That I will never forget. 
– Hannah, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Fall 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 13th, 2014

Witnessing the light bulb


We’ve been on tour for almost two months, and our team has been all the way to Brandon, MB and back…which is ironic, because we are the east coast team. (And yes we know what direction is east!) We have taken a break in Hamilton and now we’re ACTUALLY heading to the east coast.

In short time we’ve been on tour, we’ve learned the importance of looking at the big picture and cutting out all the troubles. It is an important part when there are a billion and one things going on around you; realizing that even on those tough days where it’s hard to raise your head from your pillow, that it is still worth it. It’s worth the months of hard work put in, the dreadfully early mornings and the long sleepy bus rides. It’s worth it because when we go into a school, we go in with the anticipation to inspire.

There are so many reasons about why I love waking up every morning. I’m going to admit right now… I’m not a morning person, making those 5am wake up calls are not particularly my favourite things in the world. But once I’m up and I begin to get ready for yet another long day, I realize that I’m doing this for people who need to hear our message, who need to hear that their life has value. Kids who go through the daily struggle of finding self worth and knowing that they are worth it often need small reminders that they have something special to offer the world and that they are unique. That’s where our job comes in.

Seeing the reaction on a child’s face as they realize their life has potential, that not everything has to be covered up by a mask and that just being themselves brings me so much joy. Whether we are performing for 50 students or 900, there is always pressure, not only to speak English well as you scramble for words to come, but pressure to give these young people hope. Hope that they can actually make a difference in this huge world. I have the honour and the privilege of going into schools every day and encouraging the students to live life with purpose and have the courage to connect with the world around them. Talking to students about having those small moments of courage that they can use to push themselves, that is what we strive to do everyday.

One is all I need. If out of group of 700, there is simply one person who has decided to actually listen and take something special from the show, it’ll make all the hard times worth it. Because every time I see the lightbulb go on in someone’s eyes, I know that I have made a huge difference in their life.   

– Gina, LiveDifferent Tour Intern, Fall 2014


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 4th, 2014