Photos: Derrick Shaw

Derrick Shaw watches a kite being flown by one of the relentlessly cheerful local kids he met on a recent trip to Mexico. A very appreciative family upon receipt of their new house, built by partcipants in a Live Different Build in Mexico. The youngest boy in particular was thrilled to have a bed of his own.

By: Korie Marshall

A group of young team members and musicians who “Live Different” have been coming to McBride for four years now to perform and share with students their philosophy on caring for and connecting with people. So far, Principal Derrick Shaw hasn’t gotten enough interest for the Grade 12 students to choose one of the organization’s “Hero Holidays” as their traditional trip. But now that Shaw has gone on one of the organization’s public trips himself, he thinks that Grade 10 students would get even more out of it.

Shaw says he’s been impressed with the Live Different organization, which he thinks is really more like a philosophy or a movement. They teach active caring, random acts of kindness, practicing the golden rule, and he was intrigued by the trips to countries that are generally less fortunate that us in Canada. Now called “Live Different Builds,” these trips see volunteers helping to build a home or a school or other much needed projects for families and communities in places like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Thailand, and in the process, help create change and realize that life is about people, not stuff.

Shaw says he’s always thought it would be an amazing thing to do with students, and each year there was some interest. But he’s gotten many questions about the trips from students and parents, all the sorts of questions he himself would ask as a parent, and he didn’t know many of the answers.

“So I thought – I am going to go find out,” said Shaw. He made a 10 day trip in August to help build a home for a family with five kids in Mexico.

“It is a very cool experience, and I think the younger you are the more of an impact it will have.” Shaw says he is 44 and has seen poverty in the past, though not to the same extent as what he saw in Mexico, and it had an impact on him. But he thinks the impact was even greater on the 20 kids on the trip, all between 16 and 22 years old, even though they had all been on another trip before joining this public one.

Even at his age, his trip to Mexico has changed how he thinks about his purchases, and he thinks there would be an even greater impact on Grade 10 students. He knows many Grade 10 students in McBride have had jobs, and know how hard it is to earn a dollar, and how far a dollar goes, and are also old enough to deal with the emotions they will inevitable feel on a trip like this.

“Kids down there (in Mexico) are amazing, they have absolutely nothing, and they are smiling 24/7,” says Shaw. It can be very shocking to see the kind of poverty they were living in, and he says the Live Different organization does a great job of debriefing each night – they understand people are impacted differently by experiences like this.

To go on the trip, Shaw says you have to raise $1400, which pays for your accommodation and travel while in Mexico, and some of the building supplies for the home, and you are responsible for your own airfare to San Diego, where the road trip starts.

It’s not about giving everything up, Shaw says, but about recognizing that there are less fortunate people in the world, and recognizing that you can act to help other people.

A group of eight Live Different team members are traveling with their instruments in a bus to communities across Canada, and will be stopping in McBride on Oct. 27th. Shaw says this year’s theme is Courage to Connect. They want to help other kids discover and embrace their ability to overcome negative mindsets and pressures, connect in meaningful ways, and care ethically for everyone around them.

“It is powerful, seeing groups of young people doing this of their own free will,” says Shaw.