Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Grieves


My name is Stephen Grieves, hailing from the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario in the country of Canada! When I'm not pursuing new business ventures and making a go of it in the world of start-up business, I love to be outside in the sun (when we get it!), playing sports and living an active lifestyle.

Why did you pick this program?

Surf For Life was brought to my attention by one of my best friends who works for, a company strongly rooted in involvement with charitable initiatives and a corporate partner of Surf For Life.

Learning about the mission of Surf For Life and the structure of the trip, I couldn't help but get involved. I felt a strong connection in being able to help build a school that would allow the youth of El Paredon to continue their educational journey.

Of course, being able to surf a few days during the week was an AMAZING add-on also!

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Well not the most important thing I learned, but something I thought was funny nonetheless was that no matter how old you get, afternoon story time can make anyone start to nod off!

While we were reading Dr. Seuss in Spanish with the kids a few of the young ones started to doze off and nap. At the same time, I noticed a few of the volunteers on our group (me included) getting heavy eyes as well!

Different ages, different backgrounds, different languages, SAME RESULT!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

To everyone that asks, I tell them that experiences like the one I had in Guatemala with Surf For Life will absolutely change you as a person.

From being able to see how gracious the entire village was by our being there, to how excited the kids were to have a school being built for them, to the culture we were able to experience by being in a remote Guatemalan location, each aspect of the trip was an eye-opening experience in its own way.

I thoroughly believe that everyone should experience something like this at least once in their life.

What made this experience unique and special?

What made this experience special to me was the relationships built with everyone we were on the trip travelling with and those we met while traveling.

While we started the trip as a few groups of strangers that didn't know one another very well, by the end we were one big family that had connected throughout the week.

From our inside jokes to our roles on the worksite to the chats we were able to have with one another in our downtime, the connections built will always have a place with me.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Living in an open-concept hut and waking up to surf the Pacific Ocean every morning!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open and enjoy every aspect of it because when it ends, you'll miss being a part of something so special.

Would I go back and do it again?