November 10th a group of strangers flew WestJet south into a world where we spent 10 days becoming a family.
The first morning we spent in the Dominican we went on a tour through Nuevo Renacer, and I spent a couple of hours with a little girl that I will remember forever. Victoria watched me come off the truck, made her way through the crowd, grabbed my hand and with the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen, she restored my faith in humanity. We were supposed to be listening to Anthony (of Live Different) tell us about his community and how much Live Different had helped bring it back to life, but I had to catch the Spark-Notes version as Victoria took us on a tour of our own.
Not understanding a word she was jingling on about, I watched in awe at her curiosity and happiness at how similar we were. I smiled as she touched my cheek, then hers, understanding that there was the same warmth and softness to each of our skins. As we walked she studied me, first tracing a feature on my face, then her own – giggling only when she felt how fair and soft my hair was in contrast to her own. We stopped at the kids club built the previous year by Live Different, Big Brothers Big Sisters and WestJet, and she dragged me out to the playground where I chased her and some of the other locals around the slide. You don’t have to speak the same language to understand laughter, and that’s a sound I recall whenever I need a smile.
The trip is a blur of a million moments and memories of people I grew to love in such a short time, but in such a Big way. The school kids running to the fence to wave to the “gringos”. Hours spent in the pool learning more about each other than we admittedly know about some of our closest friends at home. Coffee breaks with Toby and Felix. Then each bucket of sand hauled up and down the gorge to Cecelia’s… We built a home for a beautiful family alongside a community of amazing people, and it will be that sense of community that I will work to keep for the rest of my time on this earth.
There are so many things I want to share with you, so many moments that mean everything to me, but to explain each one would be like trying to explain what it means to be a Big while a Little changes your perspective on everything you thought you knew.
I know I was hesitant with how much we each had to raise to go on the trip, but by reaching out to my community, I was blown away by how much my people believe in me and how much they trusted me.
Sometimes people surprise you. So if you can, commit to become a Big and make a difference in the life of a child in your community, or go work on a build with Live Different. Take a chance, you never know how much your time can mean when you start something Big and make life about people, not stuff.
start something today >