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!