Many students take a gap year between high school and university to get acquainted with the working world they will inherit after university or college.
This summer Carina Mutschele embarked on a gap year with a non-profit organization called Live Different.
After graduating in June, Carina was all set to go to the University of Victoria in the fall.
But on short notice she was invited to participate in a nine-month volunteer sojourn with Live Different/Hero Holidays (livedifferent.com) based in Hamilton, Ontario.
Live Different is a movement aiming to empower youth to realize the significance of their lives.
Within a couple of weeks Carina made the decision to use her savings to help fund her participation.
The first part of the Live Different program involves travelling across Canada with her team for four months giving presentations in high schools throughout the country.
These motivational assemblies focus on allowing students to understand the value of their lives and getting them to realize that they have the power to make a difference in the world.
The theme of this year’s show is called Something’s Gotta Give.
The presentation focuses on getting students to realize that they are not alone, and that no matter what obstacles stand in their way they have the power to do something significant with their lives.
The presentation also focuses on volunteering abroad in Thailand, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, building houses and working in children’s homes.
“Live Different is a youth movement challenging ourselves and others to consistent acts of love, hope and change – both large and small. We believe that a changed heart can truly change the world,” Carina says.
After Christmas, Carina and her team will travel to Baja California, Mexico for four months to work in the community, build homes, help with the Hero Holiday trips, and teach English in schools.
Carina knows that she wants to work in the humanitarian field after her post secondary education and feels that this year will help her get a better idea of what she wants to do.
She will be attending the University of Victoria in the fall of 2013 to study the social sciences.
Carina has been on the road, doing the presentations in high schools for about a month and a half now and it has already changed her life completely.
She loves having the incredible opportunity, every day, to inspire students across the country.
“I absolutely love this program and there’s nowhere else I would rather be and nothing I would rather be doing,” Carina says. “It’s such an incredible experience to be able to inspire other students across Canada. I have never been happier and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have this incredible opportunity.”
Carina heard about Live Different in a presentation she had seen at Columneetza Secondary School a couple of years earlier and from some friends who told her about their experiences with Live Different/Hero Holiday.
She was so inspired by the presentation that in the summer of 2011 Carina went to Trujillo, Peru for a month on her own to volunteer at a school in the slums of the city with an organization called Bruce Peru.
Live Different team members are expected to contribute $8,000 each toward the cost of their volunteer work to help defray the cost of travel, housing and food, and the purchase of building materials for the houses in Mexico.
Carina was able to pay for about half of it with the money she earned during high school babysitting, working at a gas station in Horsefly and at Laketown Furnishings in Williams Lake.
So far she isn’t sure whether she’ll be able to complete the second semester of the volunteer program due to the expenses, and so she is asking the generous and supportive community of Williams Lake for donations to help fund the second half of her volunteer mission. Carina would gratefully accept donations of any sort, whether it be Airmiles (to help pay for flights to and from Hamilton) or money, etc.
“I am in awe of my daughter’s enthusiasm and determination, and it’s inspiring to see how she is following her dreams,” says her mother Carmen Mutschele. “Carina has always been able to see the bigger picture and has a strong sense of social justice which drives her desire to help those less fortunate.
“Carina just told me the other day that she created a vision board in one of her high school classes last year, showing an image of herself speaking on stage to a room full of people, and she was dumbfounded to realize after her first presentation at a high school in Kitchener, that the picture on her vision board had become reality.”
People can contact Carina for donations through her family at Horsefly at P.O. Box 364, Horsefly, B.C. V0L 1L0 or by calling 250-620-3789 or by cell at 250-267-9943.