Faze Magazine Article – Legacy

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“What do you want to be remembered for?”

Joy was prepared for a lot of other questions from her leadership teacher, but not that one. She had to come to terms with everything, to look herself in the eye, and to be willing to give herself an honest answer, no matter how hard it was to do that. Could she do it?

Her Mandarin name is Yi-Ting Yu and it means, “Happy Family”. In English, her name is Joy, and if you have ever spent five minutes with her, you will know why. She is a mixture of crazy antics, laughter and energy, all wrapped up in an itty bitty living space.

She was 7 when her family moved from Taipei, Taiwan to Canada and settled into life in Richmond, B.C. Moving to a new culture is challenging, but for her, the move also held a lot of other difficulties. Her dad had a temper and it often resulted in violence in their home. When pressure mounted and he exploded in anger, Joy often got the brunt of it. Many years of long sleeves and keeping things hidden had given her the ‘ability’ to be a bit of a chameleon, blending in with whatever social group she was with.

On the outside she was outgoing, fearless, even sometimes almost cruel and careless. But on the inside, she was scared, lost and frustrated with her life. She wanted to change and she wanted to get free from all the pain, but didn’t know where to start. One night it all changed. Her best friend, her leadership teacher and her high school vice-principal showed up at her door, and pulled her out of a dangerous situation. Their kindness forced her to realize the worth of her own life and what she was capable of becoming. In the end, their kindness changed her entire life.

A few months later, with their help, Joy found herself in Dominican Republic with LiveDifferent’s Hero Holiday program. Day after day she experienced compassion and love in action, as she played a part in bringing hope to people who were desperate for the help. But while everyone else was inspired and empowered by the experience, she wrestled with the injustices of life and didn’t know how she was going to return home and continue to stay strong in her resolve to not go back to her old habits and ways of dealing with things through violence, anger and pain. One day, her leadership teacher sat her down, looked her in the eye and asked her the question that changed her perspective.

“What do you want to be remembered for?”

After thinking about it for a while reflecting on what she had learned through her experience, she came to some conclusions. She didn’t want to be defined by the pain anymore: “I want to be remembered for always making people laugh, for being amazing with kids, and for always being there for my friends.”

Joy is my friend, and she now works for us in LiveDifferent. She has shared her story with hundreds of thousands of students across Canada and she has been an integral part of our Hero Holiday trips all over the world. If given the opportunity to describe her, many of her friends would probably use words like outgoing, energetic, bubbly and determined. But that is just her personality. While it may paint a picture of what to expect when you meet her, it doesn’t clearly prepare you for the strength of character that makes up who she really is. I believe she will be remembered as someone who chose, every day, to reach out and make a difference in the world around her through compassion and kindness.

We often try so hard to fit in that we can forget that there is a memory of us that is left behind. It can happen as soon as we leave a conversation or a room, or it can be years, decades, centuries later. Like the image of a bright light left in the darkness, we leave behind a memory, whether we want to or not. So, the question for you and me is what do we want to be remembered for?

– Christal Earle – Co-Founder of LiveDifferent

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 28th, 2012