We learn from one another

We had our first full week of volunteering and I felt it went really well. We volunteered at various organizations including Casa Hogar Ebenezer and Buen Samaritano – old age homes, Oasis – an after-school program, Welcome Home – a daycare, New Beginnings- a women’s shelter, and we taught English and an art class at a local school and a community center.

            Throughout the week I really enjoyed teaching English at the Chula Vista Community Centre to kids in grades 1-3. Our class has about 15 children in it and more are joining as the class is becoming known in the community. It is an incredible experience to be these children’s resource to learn a new language. The ability for them to speak and understand English can open up numerous possibilities and opportunities in their lives. It is, however, extremely challenging, as I am not a teacher and have never taught English to anyone.  We were lucky to have an English teacher in Canada devise a beginner program for us and then send a woman down to Mexico to teach us in person.  Even with the program, it is difficult but we are all learning together and from each other as well.  My highlight from our first class was when the children started to catch on to the sounds and letters we were trying to teach them. It is very rewarding hearing the children speak in English even though its only one small word.  Seeing them starting to understand it is an incredible experience.

            I had a great personal experience at Buen Samartiano.  We got to work closely with the seniors and it was really nice to help them out in any way that we could.  While we were there, Ally and I were painting the women’s fingernails. There was one woman who I had a strong connection with. While painting her nails, she was telling me all sorts of stories, which I couldn’t understand since they were in Spanish.  I did my best and smiled and laughed when it was appropriate and she got noticeably happier as our time continued. It is amazing how happy this woman was to have someone listen to her stories and to share laughs with, and I was happy to share that with her too.

            After this first week of volunteering I am very excited for what’s to come within these next few weeks, as we continue to strengthen relationships where we volunteer and with the people in the community. 


~ Danica, LiveDifferent Academy Student, 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 26th, 2015

A Glimpse of What is to Come

During our first week back in Zapata, after Spanish school in Ensenada, we spent most of our time visiting all the volunteering locations and learning about their history and mission. We visited a few afterschool daycares – Oasis, Welcome Home, and Chula Vista Community Center; a couple old age homes – Buen Samaritano and Casa Hogar Ebenezer; and a Women’s shelter called New Beginnings.

Visiting these places was an experience of their own. Each place was so welcoming and passionate about the organization and willing to talk to us about the struggles and path they had to take to create the organization. It felt as if we were entering a bundle of both positive and negative emotions when we listened to the stories of the creators. We were very excited to meet the founders of these organizations and they were excited to meet us and have us help them with their daily activities.

One NGO that stood out to me was the women’s shelter. We met Dorothy, the founder of New Beginnings, and we listened to all the empowering and somber stories of the women at the shelter. Many of the women have been involved in the sex trade or were victims of abuse and neglect. The shelter was set up to help these women rediscover themselves and learn skills such as sewing, cooking, and child care. They fundraise for the shelter every weekend by selling jams in three different flavours: Mango, Strawberry, and Mixed Berry, and mixed in are Jalapeño peppers to make a very sweet, spicy and delicious jam, a treat they graciously shared with us.

This week was a great experience, listening to all the stories, and we are all excited to start volunteering next week.


– George, Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 25th, 2015

LiveDifferent Stories: Andia’s Birthday for Cause!

This is Andia. Last Christmas, she was inspired by a campaign we did asking people to donate towards school uniform for students at the LiveDifferent school in Haiti. (She even wrote a letter at Christmastime to Papa Noel, thanking him for visiting the students at the school in Haiti to bring their new uniforms!) 
Andia wanted to find a way she could also contribute to this project. Over the past three years, she’s chosen to ask friends not to give her a gift to celebrate her birthday, but to consider making a donation in support of something she felt passionate about. This year she wanted to support the students in Haiti. So, when she sent out invites to her birthday party she again asked for no gifts but gave some information and pictures about the school and the need for uniforms. She let them know that a $20 donation would purchase a uniform for a student. 
The response from her friends was overwhelming, as each friend who came to her party donated a uniform! Andia was thrilled and her friends were all excited to learn about the students who now had a school in their community to attend. One day, when she’s a little older, Andia hopes to have the opportunity to visit the school and meet the students who attend it.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 19th, 2015

Ensenada, Spanish classes, and a Trek to find Buddha

Traveling to Mexico and living immersed in the culture is an incredible privilege that I am very lucky to be a part of.  The opportunity to learn Spanish while living here is such a blessing and advantage I did not think I would have. The idea of learning another language did not sink in with me until this week. Traveling to Ensenada left me feeling of anxious, I was really nervous about staying with a host family because of the language barrier. I wondered if they would be able to understand me and how I would be able to communicate with them if we did not speak the same language. After I spent a week with Diana and Roberto, I felt at ease.  Diana prepared every meal for us and made it a warm, welcoming stay, and overall an awesome experience. Mexican food is very different from what we are used to eating in Canada.

At every meal we are offered homemade tortillas or a kind of burrito, and of course refried beans. It very delicious although some of the spices are very strong and not what we are all used to. Diana and Roberto did their very best to make us feel at home and comfortable.  Not only did we learn Spanish in our schooling but we also learned it in the home speaking to each other. I have to admit that working to learn a new language in such a short amount of time is mentally exhausting, so our days usually ended pretty early, to catch up on much needed sleep.


The first week in Spanish school was somewhat difficult. The first couple days were easier with learning verbs and adjectives, but as we got more into the language, I found it to be a challenge.  We attended Spanish lessons Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm. Since we had some down time after school, we were able to explore the city of Ensenada.  My Academy family and I trekked to find a statue of a giant Buddha and we hiked up one of the mountains to find a gorgeous view of the whole city.  Three sides of the city are surrounded by mountains. The Pacific Ocean is on the fourth side.  We also went horseback riding down the beach. I was so nervous but was happy I faced my fears and went with the group.

Getting to know the area of Ensenada was different than the area of Zapata where we live during the program. There, everything is spread out and poverty is more prominent, and it is much smaller in population, with only 4682 people. Ensenada is a city with a population of 466,814 and consists of old and new developments. I am told that it is very much like California, USA.  I am learning a lot about Mexico and the culture, and I am hopeful I will be able to retain and speak Spanish with my Academy family, the community, and even with my parents on face time!

– Grace, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Fall 2015


Author: LiveDifferent