Michael Morrow – Washington, USA
It’s been an amazing week so far here in Vejle. Tuesday was an internal day filled with workshops, traveling, and a feeling of closure in a sense. On Wednesday, we hosted a culture fair at the Bryggen shopping center. While we had a smaller crowd, those that visited were enthused by our descriptions of our home countries and, overall, we had a blast. We experienced a hurricane that caused Thursday to become a half day. Which, looking on the bright side, allowed us to spend the rest of the day with our host families! I’m looking forward to two great show days at DGI Huset; knowing it’s our last opportunity to perform should bring an even greater performance. This coming Monday we will be our final banquet: a time for Cast B to come together and celebrate a truly amazing semester.
Last week in Cast B 2013. The words are bittersweet, with an emphasis on bitter. Although I will be going on to become a member of Cast A 2014, I now see how difficult it will be this time next semester. It seems there’s no denying it; UWP leaves you wanting-no, needing-more. More time with cast mates and staff that have become family, more chances dancing gumboot, more host families to connect with…just more. With each end, however, comes a new beginning. I know each member of Cast B 2013 will go on to start a great new beginning thanks to this amazing experience.
Yuxuan Shen – China
Although Cast B 2013 did not go to Mexico City as a part of our Mexico tour, having to go there to apply for my visa to Europe gave me a great opportunity to explore the great city. Having heard that Mexico is a really diverse country, which even has cultural differences between states, helped me prepare for a totally different city. However, I was still shocked when I actually saw the city. The first thing I noticed was how big the city is! Even coming from China, to me, Mexico City was still very big; especially compared to other cities we had traveled to as a cast. Crowded streets, people everywhere and tall buildings make Mexico City such a big and busy city. However, staying there for a week and a half made me discover it much deeper.
Mexico City is a very diverse city ready to be explored. As a city that has the most museums in the world, you can definitely expect the city to be rich in history and full of amazing historical sites. But, it is also true that Mexico City has wonderful modern buildings and metropolitan lives. There was a day that I was taken to a luxury mall by my host family—with a stream of water accompanied by beautiful flowers and trees in the middle, the mall was full of high-end products and popular brands across the world. All the shops were so fancy and had great designs. However, despite the fact that Mexico City is host to amazing historical sites and international metropolitan lives, it also has a great amount of people living in poverty. One day, on our way to an upscale area of the city, we passed several mountains that were covered by little houses, and my host mom told me that people living in those houses do not even have enough money to paint their homes. But just a few minutes later, we were driving past huge houses and golf courses. This kind of extreme economical gap is not uncommon in Mexico City. In fact, Mexico, along with other developing countries, suffers from unbalanced economic situations between the rich and the poor. I was really thankful to really be able learn about the city on a much deeper level than a tourist.
Being able to spend Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico City was another great opportunity I got. Walking throughout the Zocalo (city square) before Dia de los Muertos gave me the opportunity to see the preparation of the wonderful market for the festivities.
In fact, seeing all the sculptures and pictures of skulls in front of the national cathedral and the national palace was shocking. In China, death is typically a bad thing to talk about. People really avoid any mention of it during conversations-even joking about death is not acceptable since people think that will bring bad luck. However, in Mexico, people really celebrate death and those who have lived before. They make what could be a very negative and sad thing into something fun, positive, and colorful that can be celebrated. I believe this positivity is rooted in the Mexican culture and being a part of this celebration really helped me to appreciate this colorful and bright culture.
Since I was in Mexico City, I also got the chance to visit the pyramids and the National Museum of Anthropology. Standing among the pyramids and seeing all the great work that ancient people accomplished without any modern technology was really amazing. I was very impressed by their imaginations which were expressed through their amazing sculptures and paintings.
The last amazing thing I got to do in Mexico City was to participate in the filming of a Mexican movie as an extra.
Because my host sister was an actress, my roommate and I were invited to join her in a movie as extras. We played the roles of two public school students. Although we were shooting just one scene that may only be in the movie for just a few seconds, we spent the entire morning shooting it. Standing in the cold doing the same thing again and again helped me really understand one sentence that my host sister told me—“cinema is made from love.”
Although I had to leave the cast for a week and a half, I had a great time in Mexico City and felt that I was really able to experience and explore the city in depth. I have grown to really love Mexico City and the great Mexican culture, and I feel like I took advantage of every opportunity I was given…which is what Up with People is all about.
Katelyn Gill – South Dakota, USA
We crossed an ocean, eight time zones, and have arrived in a new continent. We are finally in Europe, and we’re super excited to be here. We are starting to experience new food, new culture, and we get to break out all of our winter clothes that have been hiding in our suitcases just waiting for colder weather.
For our first cast adventure in Roskilde we got the chance to experience some heritage from this part of the world…Vikings. We had the opportunity to explore the Viking museum where we started off with a tour guide filling us in on the Viking history and of the museum. We then got the chance to explore the museum ourselves. We explored reconstructed Viking ships that the museum crew found in the fjord by the museum. We were also able to try on traditional Viking clothes. The museum also has Viking ships that they have reconstructed outside the museum that you can view. One of these ships was taken on a voyage all the way to Ireland to see how the Vikings sailed the seas so long ago.
Host family day for many people was exploring Copenhagen. One of the first attractions to see was the famous Little Mermaid statue from the Hans Christian Andersen story. Many people know the Disney version but if you read the actual fairy tale, the ending is a little different. But no matter what the ending, seeing her perched on her rock at sea is a sight not to be missed.
The next stop was the palace of the Royal family of Denmark. While there we watched the guards pace back and forth protecting the queen. We were able to take pictures with the guards, but we couldn’t get too close because they were on duty.
Another place to check out is Nyhavn, or New Harbor. There are many restaurants and coffee shops to enjoy. Some of us were also able to get some of our holiday shopping done because it’s just blocks away from Copenhagen’s shopping district.
Now that we’ve experienced Denmark, it’s off to Sweden! We’re all looking forward to returning to Denmark again for the last week of our tour together.
Dani Gutierrez – Mexico
One of the best experiences you can have while traveling with Up with People is being visited by your family and friends. For a few days, both of your “worlds” come together and the people you love can have a little taste of your life on the road.
My family and some friends have visited me a couple of times during the tour. I loved it! They met the cast and finally understood who I was talking about all the time. They saw the show, bought “VOICES” t-shirts and were inspired by the message we deliver every week. Also, after sharing my experience with them, understanding it was a lot easier. Because UWP has many different components, comprehending what it is can be a challenge! There’s nothing like living it yourself. Other cast members were also visited by their families.
Jimi from Montana, USA said the thing she liked the most was the fact that her family could see how she had changed within a month. She also enjoyed that they could experience what she lives on a day to day basis.
Norea from Sweden was visited by her parents in Seattle. She loved that they were able to meet her host family for the week and that they all spent time together. Like Jimi, she enjoyed the fact that her family could see how she had developed and that when she gets back home they will perceive even more changes. She likes that they will understand why she loves UWP and why when it’s done, she’ll miss it a lot.
UWP doesn’t only “bring the world together,” it brings your world together, too.
Michael Morrow – Washington, USA
After a riveting week in Culiacán, cast B brought their talents to Obregón. We were welcomed into the city by our generous sponsor, Irma Arana of APALBA, who invited UWP back to her city after the community impact we made last time we visited. We were ready to do it again!
On Tuesday, part of the cast went to a University to lead a workshop called “Take a Stand” in several classrooms. Throughout the workshops we ask various questions for which the students must pick a side. Some example of questions asked are “Is the image of Mexico positive or negative?”, in addition to “will the world be a better place in 25 years?” and “will you make a positive impact on the world?”. Being able to see the students’ responses allowed the class to clarify how they felt about each topic and create a stronger connection between them.
Later that evening, the cast changed into international costumes representing various countries and led a parade dedicated to Viva la Gente! It was amazing seeing how enthused and receptive the crowd was to our message.
On Thursday night, which happened to be Halloween, our cast had the opportunity to sit down to a formal dinner with our sponsor and the mayor of Obregón. After a delicious dinner, an unexpected dance party broke out as cast members and staff alike busted moves for the rest of the night; truly a night to remember.
During the weekend, some of our cast members participated in the Color Run. To get a better idea of what the Color Run is, here is the description from the website, “The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5k on the Planet, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality.” At each 1k mark throughout the race, runners were bombarded with colored powder, leaving them even more vibrant. These types of events are an awesome way for letting off steam after a busy week.
The end of the week came way too fast here in Obregón. Just as we begin to really get to know our host families and the city, it’s time for us to head out for our next adventure yet again. From a spirited parade to running in color, this week was no doubt a highlight in the Mexican tour.
Hannelore Lecocq – Belgium
This evening was a very special evening for Cast B 2013. We got the opportunity to be in a drum circle on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Lame Deer. We were outside surrounded by mountains, fields, wildlife and a beautiful sunset. The sky was red, pink, & orange and you could see the trees on the top of the mountains very clearly. The cast was already together in a big circle while our host families joined us with some food. The master of ceremonies welcomed us and as the tradition goes, the elders went first. After we all got some delicious food provided by our host families, the master of ceremonies told us some stories about the tribe. We then listened to our first drum circle for a cast member’s birthday. A couple of men and little kids sat together in a circle with their drum and one of the men sang this song, which sounded like more of a call. The drums were heartbeats and the singing was the wind. When the birthday drum circle was over, they ignited a fire in the middle of the circle. First, the women and men did a ceremonial dance for us while dressed up in their traditional attire. Our Promotion Representatives had the opportunity to wear them and participate as well. Afterwords, they invited us all to dance in a circle around the fire. The steps were easy and the music was simple, too, but the energy that came from it was magical. We were so connected to each other as well as to the nature around us. This is an experience that our cast will never forget. We were definitely the lucky ones here.
Caleb Reed – Arizona, USA
Up with People, cast B 2013 is on the road! We’ve learned the show, gotten to know our cast mates, practiced our English, and mainly, we’ve begun to understand what it means to be truly tired. Tired in our bones, to the point that we can sleep on a slab of cement. Or a chair sitting perfectly upright. Anywhere really.
Hannelore Lecocq – Belgium
After 4 rough weeks of staging we’re finally on the road! Staging was a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong. The first days of staging were spent searching how to fit in the group. For some people it wasn’t hard, but for others it took a while to find their place. It’s amazing to see how fast we became a group who supports each other, who can have a lot of fun and is also very hard working. The many workshops we had made us really grow as a group. We got to know each other in a lot of different ways and that made us realize that we’re all just normal human beings, no matter where we come from. We have more in common than we have differences.
About the show, to be honest I could not believe that we would be able to know and do the show after only 4 weeks of training. But we did it and it was amazing! A lot of rehearsals, hard work and good motivation showed their results in the last couple of days before the show. It was an incredibly good feeling to know we could do it all together. Our first real show gave us a real kick on stage! The audience was so enthusiastic that they gave us more energy to perform. It felt great to be on stage and to just do our thing!
Now we are in Sheridan, Wyoming. A city where I and I’m sure a lot of others didn’t hear about before they came to Up with People. It’s our first city and we’re so blessed to be here. We were so exited to come here and I think it became even a better experience then we expected. The welcoming was so nice! The mayor and all the sponsors told us how thrilled everybody was about our visit, we got a table full of snacks and a concert of one of the famous country singers of Sheridan. Everybody seems to be very happy with their host families. After every day you hear people talk about the amazing experiences they had and how friendly and welcoming everybody is.
Caleb Reed – Arizona, USA
Welcome to Cast B 2013 of Up With People! Cast number 184, standing on the shoulders of so many alumni before us!
Cast Tour Blog Archive
Subscribe to the blog!
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and recieve email notifications of new posts by email.