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Why choose LiveDifferent?

Established in 2000, LiveDifferent is a Canadian charity that exists to engage and empower youth in a lifestyle of compassion and service. We help young people explore and instill important values, build stronger relationships and get activated in compassion within their communities and abroad. Our signature programs are designed for long-lasting impact on youth—so they can reach their full potential as kind, compassionate and resilient human beings.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience!

I participated in my first Live Different build at the age of 14 and the experience was so eye opening and educational it changed my life. I remember getting off the plane that July in 2010 and not knowing too much about what I was getting into, where I was going, and the impact this trip was going to have on my life.

After a few days of getting used to our accommodations, we got to work. We began building a home for a wonderful lady named Mystica. The construction work consisted of mixing bags of cement with rocks and sand, stacking bricks, and tying rebar. With plenty of opportunities to take a break, get to know the community, and enjoy the experience. The community we worked in was very accepting to all of the volunteers and treated everyone exceptionally.

Our final day in the community we presented Mystica with her brand new concrete, sturdy, and safe house that she would be proud to call her own. I've often said to my friends that the hug and thank you received on house dedication days are most powerful and heartwarming exchanges of humanity I've ever experienced.

Since my first build in 2010 I have completed 3 more and am planning on going back for my 5th in the summer of 2019. The experience never changes and holds a special place in my heart. You will not regret going on a Live Different Build!!

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Yes, I recommend this program

An Experience of a lifetime

To say that the Live Different Academy was a meaningful experience is an understatement. This program was one of the MOST meaningful things I have ever done in my life. From the people I met, and the opportunities I had during my three months I was able to grow so much as an individual. I learned a lot about myself, and about my goals and passions in life. The program helped give me a broader understanding of Mexican culture, the way people live in a developing country, and the overwhelming challenges they are faced with each and every day. It opened my eyes even more to the ever growing need in the communities that we worked in. I met so many incredible people, children, mentors and friends. Each person I met helped me along my journey and had an impact on my experience in some way. I am grateful for each one of their guidance and support during my time in Mexico. This program is perfect for anyone who isn't sure what they want to do with their life going forward, it is perfect for anyone interested in giving their time, energy and heart to those in need, it is perfect for anyone wanting to pursue social justice, or international development as a career, it is perfect for anyone looking for their purpose, or passion. If you are even slightly considering this program, you need to stop thinking and REGISTER, because I promise you that you will never regret the time you spend in Mexico, and it will be most meaningful three months of your life.

What would you improve about this program?
No program is perfect, however I have nothing negative to say about this experience, Live Different dedicates themselves to supporting and empowering youth, and working in these countries to make change and help those who need it most. They have created a flawless program that helps immerse you in their work, and their vision. I wouldn't change anything about the program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

LDA Academy

In my experience completing the Live Different Academy was one of the best things I could have done at that point in my life. In my grade 12 year I knew exactly what school and program I wanted to do in University but something inside me told me I was meant to be doing something else. I had previously volunteered on Live Different builds and I had formed a strong connection with this organization, so I decided to go for it. I found that I got so much more out of the academy experience than I ever could have imagined. I gained experience volunteering abroad in old age homes, a women's shelter, an after school program, and I had the opportunity to teach English twice a week. Beyond this I was able to learn so much about myself through living in a different country in a new culture. I found that Live Different did an amazing job facilitating this experience through their strong communication skills prior to the academy and the level of safety that Live Different provided ensured that we all felt safe and comfortable throughout the experience. I also found that the Live Different staff throughout my experience did an exceptional job explaining the things we were doing, why we were doing them, and how what we do impacts other people. The biggest thing this experience taught me is that life is more important than the things you own, it is about who you are and the people you surround yourself with. My biggest take away is that there's always an opportunity to be kind to others, and do what you can to help those around you.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My LDA experience

The Live Different Academy program initially appealed to me as I wanted to travel, but have purpose and value along with it. I wanted to be surrounded by culture, rather than blinded by tourist influencers. Live Different gave me this and more! I could have never imagined how much I would grow personally and mentally through this experience. It was so much more than I expected. I could go on and on about my experience, but the most valuable offering LD gives to each student is the opportunity to not only be immersed in the culture, but the ability to develop meaningful relationships with everyone you encounter. Live Different is established enough to introduce students to local families, where you can spend time building a relationship with a family, inside their own home- an experience hard to come by without an organization like this. If personal development, broad education, and an experience of a life time interests you, the Live Different Academy program is for you! I attended the LDA, while I was 22 and thought I mostly "had myself figured out". In the year prior, I had graduated college, moved cities, lived in my own apartment, and worked my dream career. When I became interested in the LDA program, I gave it all up. LD was able to show me that I was capable of growing more and more and I can confidently say it was worth it!

What would you improve about this program?
My experience with Live Different was incredible and there is nothing I would change. Live Different works hard to continually improve from year to year based off of alumni experiences and opinions.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Mexico House Build 2016

I participated in a house build with McBride Secondary School back in March of 2016. The experience in itself was amazing! Everything from meeting locals, to eating local cuisine, to playing jump rope with the young children was incredible. It truly made you think about how different your life is compared to place in poverty. An incredible moment of the trip was being able to bond with those who travelled with you. Coming home, I talked and socialized with people who I was never close with with. I highly recommend the program to any one. A few tips are to start fundraising early. Although the cost is for an amazing cause, it adds up quickly! For future participants, I just want to highlight that if you go with an open mind and heart, you’re definitely going to leave a little bit of yourself there. I see pictures all over the place of house builds and it takes me back to a time that I will never forget. A place of discovery, happiness and love!

What would you improve about this program?
A more detailed itinerary would be lovely! Just more so what buses you’ll be travelling in. Maybe a picture of where you’ll be staying. Little things to make those travelling a little more comfortable and prepared!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I initially became interested in the Live Different Academy program as a friend attended the program in a past year. I was able to see her social media posts of the program and eventually as a full-time representative of the organization. I was interested in traveling, but wanted to be culturally immersed and have a deeper purpose to my time spent abroad. Live Different's longer 13 week Academy program also appealed to me as I wanted to travel for an extended amount of time.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Live Different was very efficient and organized when it came time to apply for the Academy program. I applied very late, but they were still able to answer all my questions, send me information booklets and forms, and keep me posted on what they needed from me. Through this process, they were very personable and always made sure all of my questions were answered.

Live Different organized the schedule of the program and all accommodations. I was required to complete forms, book my own flights, and submit separate tuition and charity payments. My biggest responsibility was to fundraise the charity portion payment of the program, which was very successful with the help of family and friends.

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

My best advice to anyone looking to attend a program aboard is to listen to the voice telling you to go for it. Leading up to my acceptance and attendance, I had moments of excitement and stronger moments of being nervous and scared. I ignored the negative and pushed myself out of my comfort zone- and I'm so grateful I did!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Live Different always keeps things interesting! The program year to year will slightly change, because of improvements and adjustments from past years. The schedule will also change based on the group's interests and wants. Generally, throughout your time spent there, you'll volunteer and serve at various local charities/organizations.

You'll participate in a home build for a family in need! You will be immersed in the culture in many ways such as spending time with host families and even spending "A Week In The Life" of a Mexican immigrant worker. And you'll take part in excursions and other activities. It's best to check with the organizers for a more specific schedule but also go into the program with an open mind to any possibility.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was being uncomfortable with living abroad for over 3 months. I had never traveled for that long before and I was unsure I could "make it through". Again, I listened to the voice in my head saying to go for it and that it would be an amazing experience. If this is something that fears you, know that there is always an option to go home if required. Live Different representatives offer a strong support system and will help you to feel comfortable in every way possible; even through the hardest times!

What were your living conditions like?

Live Different has a gated compound on site with a few different houses and buildings. The main house consists of large bedrooms filled with bunk beds. All blankets and linens are provided. The house has a large kitchen and common area to relax in. Although you'll be living with a group, there are opportunities and areas to get time to yourself if needed and this is respected. Like anywhere, a new place can be nerve-racking, but once you're unpacked and settled in you'll feel comfortable and it might even start to feel like home!