By Korie Marshall
Grade 10 student Caitlyn Dube has never been to Mexico, and she is excited to help the less fortunate in a community there, while still getting a bit of a vacation.

“It’s a better way to spend your March break, be productive,” says Dube, a McBride Secondary student. “But we’ll still get to spend a day on the beach.”

Dube and her mother Karen are two of the participants planning a Live Different Build over March break in 2016. Derrick Shaw, principal of McBride Secondary, went on a Live Different Build last year. He thought the trip would be a great experience for his students, but before his trip he wasn’t able to answer a lot of the questions he was hearing.

Live Different is an international charity that started in Canada and it has done presentations at McBride Secondary for a few years now, bringing music, activities, and sharing a philosophy of caring for and connecting with other people. They teach active caring, random acts of kindness and practicing the golden rule. The Live Different Builds involve volunteers helping to build a home, school or other much needed projects for families and communities in places like Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Thailand. In the process, they help create change and help participants realize that life is about people, not stuff.

Shaw was very impressed with his trip, and says there were more than enough originally interested in a group trip when he started organizing it last spring. There are 14 students between Grade 10 and 12 planning to go, plus four adult chaperones and himself. The group will be leaving on March 19th for 10 days in Mexico, plus their travel time.

Each participant has to raise or pay their own $1495 registration fee. That pays for accommodation in Mexico and transportation across the border once they reach San Diego, as well as some of the supplies.

They also have to fundraise for the $14,000 or so it will cost to get the group to San Diego and back. Shaw says the school board’s bus company, Diversified, is letting him use a bus to take the group to the airport in Edmonton, and other businesses in the community have offered to help. This past weekend students started filling 1000 sandbags to sell to the local service stations, and proceeds from movie nights at the school are going toward the transportation costs.

“The students are thinking of this as an adventure,” says Shaw. “They don’t know yet how they will be influenced, and everyone experiences it differently.”

Having gone on a build himself, he knows the Live Different team does a great job of debriefing each evening to help people process and deal with the poverty and other issues they will encounter. But they also treat it as a holiday, and do some fun things on the trip, which also helps build the economy of the places they go to for these builds.

“We’ll be buying local food and souvenirs,” says Dube, though she says some people had qualms about the food trucks there. She is looking forward to interacting with the local community, and also with another school group from Vancouver Island doing a build nearby, who will be staying in the same gated house.

Dube says she is looking forward to seeing how the experience will change how she looks at things when she gets back home. Mr. Shaw told them he now looks at things like leaving the tap on differently, because water is so precious in that community in Mexico.
“It makes you realize all the little ways you can help,” says Dube.

Her mom Karen says everyone is expected to participate in the fundraising as well, which is also team building and hard work, and is an important way to help ingrain the values of volunteerism and compassion.

“I am very proud of the kids who have stepped forward to fundraise to make this happen for the people in Mexico,” says Shaw. “They are already leaders. I couldn’t have hand picked a better group.”

Live Different will present at the McBride Secondary again Nov. 4th.