From Builds with his family when he was younger to spending 13 weeks in our Academy program, Tyler shares how he was changed by his time in Mexico.
Living in a first-world country and being raised by supportive parents is not something that everyone in the world experiences. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to every activity and sport you can imagine and eventually found my passion in the arts. I went to voice lessons, dance classes, participated in school shows, and eventually turned my love for music and the theatre into a part-time job where I taught dance and performed in theatre.
From a young age, I was aware that not everyone lived the way I did. Both of my parents work with vulnerable people and have always instilled a sense of gratitude in my sister and I. We learned to appreciate what we had and to always give back to those who are in need.
I was introduced to Mexico at a young age
As a family, we were involved with Live Different for many years. We would go every couple of summers on a Build down to Mexico and volunteer with groups that came down from Canada. After spending a significant amount of time down there as a kid, I quickly realized that there were people living in extreme poverty and this exposure helped me to be more compassionate for others and motivated me to continue helping people back home.
In the spring of 2018, I began to think long and hard about my future. I needed to make some decisions soon and if I waited to attend university, I’d need to find something productive to do in the meantime. Then I remembered the Live Different Academy program and decided that it would be my next step.
After some quick consideration and a conversation with my parents, I registered and began fundraising for the upcoming semester. After several months of counting down the days till September, I jumped right into the program with full force.
Learning on the ground
Before arriving in the Baja, I had made the decision to embrace every aspect and get the most out of my experience. The program proved to be beyond my expectations and lit a fire inside me that I didn’t know existed.
I studied current issues happening in Canada and internationally through Social Justice classes, was exposed to Spanish and quickly gained basic language skills that helped me develop stronger relationships during my time in the communities, was introduced to some of the kindest and most hard-working people I have ever met, and I created lasting friendships along the way.
And I also changed quite a bit, too.
The week that changed everything
They call it Week in the Life and it’s one of the most difficult but rewarding parts of the program. For seven days, you find yourself in the shoes of vulnerable people and experience the hardships that they face each day. While it’s done in a completely safe environment, that doesn’t shield you from experiencing new levels of exhaustion that I didn’t think were possible.
As days bled into each other, I gained a new understanding and was filled with gratitude for all the opportunities that I have been given. On top of that, I also have a new sense of respect for the people that work tirelessly under difficult conditions to support their families.
The world needs more empathy and this is a week that I think everyone should experience.
The journey continues
Live Different’s Academy gives you a first-hand look into the everyday life and struggles of people living in poverty while helping you process each experience. The time is filled with unexpected surprises and memorable moments around every corner, making it an experience that will never be forgotten.
I came back motivated to continue working in International Development and looking for ways to serve others. It helped me on the path to finding my passion and has led to incredible new adventures in my life that I had never dreamed possible.
I’m forever grateful for the community of people that embraced me and made me feel welcomed during those 13 weeks in Mexico. Each one of them has left a mark on my life that inspires me to this day.