Greetings from the Netherlands!

Jenn Gifford - Friday, November 21, 2014

By Alicen, USA

Last week eight of us said goodbye to the cast in Eupen, Belgium and traveled as a spinoff crew to beautiful Maastricht, NL. During our week away, we had the opportunity to work with a Dutch organization called Global Exploration. The program sends high school students with teachers and youth counselors to different parts of the world for three weeks during their summer vacation. The students do service work as well as regional and cultural learning that focus on the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to end poverty. Global Exploration was the brainchild of Alexandra Smeets, an Up with People alumna from 1996,.

Facilitating workshops in primary and secondary schools is one way we engaged with youth in each community. In one workshop, my new Global Exploration friend Derrick from Tanzania taught the students how to “kill” a lion with a spear and I taught part of the African dance “Gumboot” from our Up with People show. In another, my cast mates played international trivia with the students and helped them create their own personal flags. The chairman of Global Exploration invited us to his house for lunch one day where we shared a meal with teachers from Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Tanzania, and the Netherlands. Food really does taste better with a generous serving of international diversity.

The cast joined us on Sunday for the Global Explorations-sponsored World Festival. We performed international songs and dances as well as presented some of our countries at the fair. The final event was a candle-lit peace ceremony at an outdoor theatre where members of the local community, Global Exploration and Up with People shared what peace meant to them in their native languages. Our cast opened the event with a flag procession to the Up with People song “Where the Roads Come Together” then sang “Can We Sing a Song of Peace?” and closed with “Voices”.  As I saw the friends I had met that week with the ones I have been traveling with for six months together, glowing in the candlelight, it struck me that we live this international peace every day in Up with People. We spread it wherever we go. This week it’s Maastricht- Aachen, you’re next!

Naestved, Denmark

Jenn Gifford - Friday, November 07, 2014

By: Paty from Mexico

Naestved is the Danish town that hosted us this past week. Its history stretches back to the early Iron Age and today it is one of Denmark’s largest provincial towns. It is a midlevel age town full of welcoming people.

As in every city we visit, we got the chance to support Naestved with a project to improve their community; we worked with The Naestved Zoo. The story behind the zoo is someone realized that all the attractions from Naestved were being moved and they were losing tourists. He decided to build something to make Naestved a special place, attracting people to visit. The Naestved Zoo was first a dream and now it’s a reality. We had the chance to volunteer there and help the owner rebuild the zoo. In general, he inspired us to all do what we love because of his story. He decided to buy the zoo just because he loves animals. Now he is really working to make it a better place for them and to attract people to the city.

There is a lot of work to do when you are trying to make things better, so he was very thankful that we were there to help. There were a lot of different jobs to do; some of us were helping with the fence, others were taking off the dry paint and another group was planting trees. By the end we all helped by planting trees. We planted 97 trees! For me, it was such a unique experience to volunteer at a zoo, working in cold weather and getting to see the white tiger less than half meter away from me!

On or second volunteering day, we got the chance to serve in the Herlufsholm Boarding School. The school was founded in 1135 as a monastery for Benedictine monks. Nowadays, it is one of the most prestigious schools in the Scandinavian area. The middle school students had prepared workshops for us instead of facilitating for them, so we had the chance to receive the experience from them. In the high school, we talked about values from a world leader perspective and what should be the most important values for the world. It was such a cool experience to see what the Danish youth have to say and what they thought. I felt that even though we were all from different countries, the barriers between us all disappeared. We felt like we knew each other from a really long time ago. We were all comfortable with each other; open to share what we think and ready to build bridges of understanding.

Cast B 2014 in Cuba

Jenn Gifford - Tuesday, November 04, 2014

By: Swikriti, Nepal

Up With People in Cuba for the first time! It was an astonishing opportunity for Up with People and for Cast B 2014. Cuba, the land of terrific blue oceans, old buildings with magnificent history, and joyful people that find their happiness for life in music, dance and art, was a country we all fell in love with. We were living a simple life with no source of technological entertainment or the fancy, packed food we get in our countries. Neither was found anywhere near this beautiful land.

Landing in Paris, France, after soaking up the heat in Cuba, many of us tucked ourselves in with all our warm clothes. After getting off the plane, most of us had our cell phones and laptops out trying to connect to the Wi-Fi. I realized that our world is indulged in the internet. After Cuba, without access to internet, the enjoyment of the company we shared with each other was slightly changed when we got back into the cyber world.

After the Caribbean rice and beans, we entered Europe, the land of bread and potatoes.  It was crazy to think and hard to believe that we were in Latin America just a few hours before.

Cuba, as we were told, is different. It was a glorious moment for me to be a part of the Cuban culture, their community, and to reach their hearts as they reached mine. Now we are in Europe.  It has always been a dream of mine to travel to this part of the world and it is my first time. Our journey in Europe began with cold weather, cozy houses, with different CI´s. I´m living the experience of lifetime from Latin America to Europe!

International playlist

Jenn Gifford - Friday, October 24, 2014

Are you tired of the music that you’re listening? Up with People participants recommended songs which are representing different cultures and languages. Find your favorites and update your playlist!

Julien, Belgium
Stromae: Alors on danse

Lotta, Finland
Haloo Helsinki: Maailma on tehty meitä varten

Tanya, France
Edith Piaf: Je ne regrette rien

Viola, Germany
Andreas Bourani: Auf Uns

Momoko, Japan
Ai: Happiness

Monse, Mexico
Pepe Aguilar: Perdono y olvido

Andrea, Mexico
Luis Miguel: Mexico en la piel

Swikriti, Nepal
Kutumba: Pariwartan

Charlie, The Netherlands
Trijntje Oosterhuis- Nu dat jij er bent

Beate, Norway
Ylvis: Truckers Hitch

Adina, Sweden
Avicii: Hey Brother

Manuel, Switzerland
Manu-L ft Remady: Holidays

Maxine, Taiwan
Heartbeat of Taiwan

Carly, Wyoming, USA
Lady Antebellum, Downtown

Ben B, Southwest USA
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top

Miguel, Arizona, USA
Jordan Sparks: No air

A different Regional Learning

Jenn Gifford - Tuesday, October 21, 2014
By Maria Bossius, Sweden

Cast B 2014 had the amazing opportunity to visit the famous candy factory De la Rosa during our week in Guadalajara. We were taken on a guided tour through the factory and got to see all the different rooms were the candy is produced. It was really interesting to see all the machines that make the candy and also how incredibly fast it goes. I think all of us felt like we found a golden ticket and were invited to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!
My favorite room was definitely the room were all the chocolate was made. When we got there, they were making chocolate covered marshmallows and it smelled amazing!

I was surprised by how big the factory was and by all the candy that’s being produced by De la Rosa. De La Rosa was kind enough to give us some of the candy (it tasted DELICIOUS), but they also donated a lot of candy that we will give to the people of Cuba when we go there!

Internships and Assistantships

Jenn Gifford - Friday, October 10, 2014

By Maria Bossius 

There are so many different opportunities to grow and gain experience in Up with People. One of them is to have an internship or assistantship. Up with People offers every student the chance to apply for either an internship or assistantship. The internships and assistantships which are divided into three different rounds and last for five weeks are there to give you a better insight on the organisation.

The internships and assistantships cover every single aspect of Up with People, which include business, admissions, production, education, operations and promotion. I decided to apply for the Sound internship for the first round, and I got it! The internship started right away and I was literally thrown into it. I had no experience of being a sound technician, so there was a lot to learn.

The first weeks I worked a lot together with Darlene, our sound technician and also one of my favourite people, and we talked about my goals and expectations for the internship. As I started to get more comfortable with my internship, I got the chance to be a leader and teach others what I had learned, and also to be more independent.
I decided to apply for the sound internship because I wanted to grow more as a person. I wanted to learn more about myself, what I am good at and what I need to work on. I was also very excited about working with a staff member, and learning about how it is to work for Up with People in general.

My sound internship helped me to grow in so many different ways. It was challenging but tons of fun and I discovered new skills that I never noticed before. I learned how I react in certain situations and how I work together with other people. My internship also opened my eyes for different career options for the future. 

A day in the Shankha Community (Toluca, Mexico)

Jenn Gifford - Tuesday, October 07, 2014

By Lotta Lundell, Finland

On Wednesday five of us from the cast headed to Shankha Community (Comunidad Shankha) to do a community impact project. The community is run by 11 young adults who met in the community that share the same values. Everything in the community is organic and vegetarian and they are growing a big amount of that food by themselves. They’re renting a building to run activities like yoga classes, wood working as well as a vegetarian restaurant and cafeteria. Even though the building is still under construction, Shankha community is opening its doors for workshops and the organic vegetarian restaurant every Saturday.

The reason we were there was to help them renovate their building. We took existing paint off the walls in the cafeteria in order for them to repaint it and make it look nice.

One of the members of the Shankha community said that they’re really making an impact with their values and way of living.  The public response has been very positive; people who visit the community have shown a lot of interest, asking questions and expressing excitement. 

I was inspired by what one of the community members said, “Nothing is going to change in the world if the people of the world aren’t taking action.” For me this message is very important. I believe that every one of us can be that first person to make a positive difference in the world. 

I was happy to see how the members of the Shankha community worked together and shared the belief that everything is possible. We ended the day by sitting in a circle with more Up with People students and community members while we ate the delicious organic vegetarian meal that they cooked for us.

Viva Mexico!

Jenn Gifford - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

By: Cameron Rodeck, Wyoming, USA

Mexico.  Wow, it’s good to be back!   This is such a special place, full of wonderful culture, but even more importantly, full of wonderful people.  As a second semester student, I’ve had the privilege of visiting Mexico City on both of my international tours.  

I must confess that prior to my involvement in Up with People, I was apprehensive of traveling to Mexico.  My view of Mexico had been clouded with stereotypes – many of them negative.  However, what I’ve come to know, enjoy, and admire is a country full of adventure, enchanting culture, and rich hospitality.

There are so many adventures to be had in Mexico City.  With over 20 million people in the Mexico City metropolitan area – there is lots of action – everywhere!  Whether you’re riding in a car with a host family, on your way to a volunteer site via bus, or navigating the subway with the whole cast to experience a regional learning activity – there are always adventures to be had in colorful Mexico City.  With shops, street performers, and sidewalk vendors in abundance there is much to see and experience.

Mexico’s historic and cultural heritage is amazing as well.  The Cast visited the Castillo de Chapultepec for regional learning – this incredible museum provides a beautiful glimpse into Mexico’s rich history.  The view from the Castillo is stunning as the panoramic scene from the black and white checkered patio overlooks modern skyscrapers and stone monuments.  The Cast also had the opportunity to visit the Pyramids of Teotihuaćan – much of their story and culture is unknown, but the view from the 63 meter-tall Pyramid of the Sun is breathtaking, both because of its beauty and because the steep incline of stairs is a keen reminder of the high altitude.  After exploring the pyramids Cast B enjoyed some authentic Mexican cuisine at a colorfully adorned restaurant nearby.  The stories and lore of Mexican history along with all the bright colors, ancient and modern architecture, and festive food create a culture of enchantment.

In addition to having an enchanting culture, Mexico knows hospitality!  I was welcomed to Mexico City by a wonderful host family – they truly went above and beyond to make the week a special one.  Most host families plan special activities for host family day; however, my Mexican host family planned special activities throughout the week in addition to planning an amazing host family day.  I enjoyed their favorite ice cream, Beso de Angel, in the historic Coyoaćan Park and visited one of their favorite restaurants, trying a plethora of Mexican cuisine.  I experienced a bird’s-eye view of the most populous city in North America as they took me up 42 floors in the Latin-America Tower.  Somehow, we also managed to visit the Cathedral, had dinner overlooking the historic center of Mexico City, visited the “magic town” of Malinalco, climbed through a sub-tropic forest to some ancient ruins, and visited UNAM - the oldest university on the continent.  It was a fast-paced, fun-filled week of Mexican hospitality at its finest.

Whether it’s exploring the Pyramids, riding in the Mexico City Subway, trying new foods with a wonderful host family, experiencing a Castillo, or learning how to communicate in a foreign language to students during a classroom workshop – Mexico has so much to offer as a reward for those who accept the challenge: Step away from the stereotypes and towards exciting adventures, robust culture, and true hospitality.  Viva México!

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Jenn Gifford - Thursday, September 25, 2014

By Joram, Belgium

After almost two months from the beginning of our tour, we left Plymouth MA for our first long travel day to our last city in the USA, Harrisonburg, VA. We left the beautiful town around 6 AM, all still very sleepy yet exited to meet our new host families. The trip took about 12 hours. It was long, but at the same time it allowed us to get to know each other even better. All of our days are so busy that we don’t always have the time for real in depth conversations, and this long bus ride was the perfect moment to do just that!

Our show took place in the eastern Mennonite school, and the connection with the students was amazing! One of the teachers in the school asked Up with People to give a presentation about the governments of the countries that are represented in our Cast. Together with Emily (Sweden), Manuel (Switzerland), Daniel (Mexico) and Swikriti (Nepal), we talked about our local governments. The students were extremely interactive and asked us many questions. We were so amazed and interested by the governments of our other cast members that we continued talking about the subject even during the break. At that moment I realized one thing: how often do you have the possibility to be in the same room with people from 5 different countries that are teaching you about their government? Yes, indeed in Up with People. Even so, there were only 5 countries in the presentation, which means we still have 10 other countries that we can learn from in our group! I’m so thankful to be part of cast B 2014 and to be able to go back home with so much more knowledge.

We all knew that we had to leave USA one day, but it came faster than we thought. On Sunday we closed our USA chapter with a fantastic campfire, thinking back to the last 2 months, and preparing for our new adventure, MEXICO!

Yet another incredible week for our UWP participants in Laconia!

Jenn Gifford - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

By Tanya Colton, France

Laconia, New Hampshire has not had an Up with People (UWP) show in the last 16 years. This allowed us as a group to both experience amazing audiences that were really excited to see us back in the town and meet wonderful people on CI sites as well as in host families during our week here. 

This week during our Saturday show, I had a great experience meeting a young woman of 14 years that is a very keen potential future UWP participant. She and I had a wonderful conversation on how we, as UWP participants, try to translate our message to our audiences. This young lady told me that she was always hooked to her phone and never really paid attention to the world around her. However, after coming to our show, she understood that she never realized the severity of the many world events that are happening around due to always being on her phone. She then decided to stop and look around more. 

This conversation made me realize how much we impact people while we perform. It's a realization I'm glad I've made. 

We're progressing through the tour and it never fails to amaze me the amount of people who get touched just by what we do. 



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