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Top 5 Summer Vacation Spots Around the World

Summer is finally here! In Colorado, where the Up with People World Headquarters are located, the weather has been warming up and the mountain snow has slowly melted away bringing more hikers and bikers to the outdoor scene. It also means that it’s time to start taking advantage of your summer vacation! School is out and all of your saved up vacation days can finally be put to use.

Maybe you’ve just graduated from high school or you’re taking a break from college and want to travel. Whatever your reasons, we’re here to help.

Here are the top five summer destinations around the world to explore!

Best Summer Vacation Spots 2019

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

These Bolivian salt flats have been heating up the travel scene, especially amongst backpackers across South America. The salt flats look like the world’s largest mirror, as they reflect the image of the sky onto the ground. The landscape is a result of leftover salt from ancient lakes. The reason why it’s becoming more popular now is that there is a new lodge in this remote part of Bolivia called Kachi Lodge which opened in May and has luxury dome tents for visitors to enjoy.

Fun Fact: A “Last Jedi” battle scene was filmed at the Bolivian salt flats, which are also the Earth’s largest salt flats to date.

Man standing on the Bolivian Salt Flats for Summer Vacation
Photo Courtesy of: Bernhard Huber/Flickr

Banff National Park, Canada

Established in 1885, Banff is Canada’s oldest National Park. If you think you’ve seen some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, just wait until you see what Banff National Park has to offer. Banff’s untouched ecosystems, including mountains, lakes, caves and glaciers, are the northernmost part of the Rocky Mountains that spread over 3,000 miles north to south.

Fun Fact: Up with People is headed to Canada! You heard that right! Our Fall 2019 tour will be making stops within the beautiful country of Canada.

Banff National Park in Canada
Photo Courtesy of: RBC Royal Bank

Colorado, United States

You read that right! Colorado has landed on many of the top best vacation spots lists for 2019 and we couldn’t agree more (though we may be a little biased). From guided treks with llamas in Vail to throwing your tubes in Boulder Creek and floating for miles in the sunshine, you’ll always find something to do here in Colorado in the summer time that is perfect for every member of the family.

Fun Fact: The Up with People World Headquarters is located in Denver, Colorado!

Garden of the Gods in Colorado
Photo courtesy of: Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center

Puerto Rico

Since the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico’s tourist industry has picked itself up and is ready to welcome you to their homes and beaches! Not only can you enjoy the sunny weather, you’ll also be contributing to the regrowth of Puerto Rico’s economy. You can ride horses along the beaches in Aguadilla or walk the old city streets in San Juan. The best part is that it’s only 90 miles from one end of the island to the other, so you can rent a car or take a bus to explore any region of the island in just a few short hours.

Fun Fact: Puerto Rico is home to the largest living reptile, the leatherback sea turtle.

Sea turtles in Puerto Rico
Photo Courtesy of: Media Source


From the heart of Rome to the hills of Assisi, Italy is absolutely stunning during the summer time and is becoming an incredibly popular spot for people of all ages to visit. You can visit the coast near Positano or head to Venice to explore the canals. You’ll want to see them before they’re gone! A recent climate change report showed that Venice could be completely underwater as early as the year 2100 due to global warming.

Fun Fact: The Fall 2019 cast of Up with People is heading to Italy! Viva la Gente!

tourists in Venice, Italy in the summer
Photo Courtesy of: Culture Trip

This world is a great big place and summer is now in session! Where will you go explore this year?

“Winter whispers good-bye,
Tears of hope are in our eyes.
Could this be the rhythm of the world?”

Rhythm of the World © Up with People

Just One Thing: A Message from Dale Penny

Scene from the movie “City Slickers

Curly:   Do you know what the secret of life is?                                                                                            

Mitch: No, what?

Curly:   Holds up one finger) This.

Mitch:  Your finger?

Curly:   One thing. Just one thing.

Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?                                                                           

Curly:   (smiles)  That’s what you have to find out.     

In the 1991 movie starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance, the grizzled cowhand advises the young city slicker to find his most important thing in life. I’ve been thinking about that recently as I look at the most important issues in the world right now. If asked, each of us would have our own list – climate change, terrorism/security; human trafficking; opioids; economic disparity; lack of water/sanitation/education for millions; refugees/migrant populations – and I may not have hit yours yet. But is there “just one thing”, just one overarching issue that we could all agree must be addressed before everything else?

I think there is – It is our inability to find respect, empathy and trust for the “others” of different races, religions, nationalities, lifestyles or ideologies, and to bridge those divisions. I know that sounds too naïve, trite and simplistic to be taken seriously, but I believe it is true. The only way we are ever going to address the big issues, whether at a global, national or local level, is first to build a sense of trust. Trust comes from understanding…which is the result of empathy…which is reached through curiosity about each other…which only occurs from a mutual desire to find common ground. That process is not naïve. It is not trite or simplistic. It is the hardest work we can ever do. And it is the most important step we can take if we are to make progress as a human family and sustain our world.

The cast of Up with People volunteers abroad in Mexico helping children in elementary schools

Up with People was formed in the 1960’s in the midst of another divided and troubled time in the world. The founding beliefs were:

  • Young people can and will create positive change if empowered and supported
  • Music is a powerful instrument for creating social change
  • Through music, travel and social action we can and will build respect, understanding and find common ground with people unlike ourselves

Since then over 22,000 young adults and teens have shared the experience of traveling in a cast, living with host families, giving back to the communities they visit and learning the skills for global bridge building. As alumni they have continued working to address some of the most important issues in their families, work places, communities, nations and world. And today more young people see Up with People as their platform to learn about the world and find their paths to being leaders for positive change. Each of them has found her/his “one thing” that will help them live with the perspective and commitment to be global citizens.  If you are a young person of university age, please consider being a member of a cast. If you are beyond cast age, please support today’s young global leaders through a scholarship gift for deserving students.

Thank you.

BTW, Mitch did discover his “one thing.” I recommend the movie.


What I’m feeling now,
I could do something
Really listen,
Open up my heart
All I have to give
I can bring hope and live for others
I’m not afraid to start
I can do something, right now
With what I’m feeling now

What I’m Feeling Now © Up with People

1-4-3 Day: A Day of Good Deeds and Love

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” – Fred Rogers

In Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, kindness and compassion have resonated through his television show to millions of public viewers around the United States. For those of you that have never heard of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, it was a half-hour educational television series for children hosted by Fred Rogers. He discussed various issues through music, crafts and puppets to help young children learn about self-love and acceptance at an early age.

Up with People cast volunteer abroad in EuropeWhat is 1-4-3 Day?

Fred Rogers used ‘143’ as a special code for “I Love You.” This is based on the number of letters in each word. As a way to encourage residents to perform random acts of kindness and spreading love towards their own neighbors, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared May 23, 2019 as the Inaugural celebration of ‘1-4-3 Day’ since it is the 143rd day of the calendar year.

What better place to ignite this movement of good deeds than in the hometown of the television show that inspired it?  As a statewide campaign, community members will encourage one another to share their stories, photos and videos on social media using #143DayPA.

While you might not live in Pennsylvania, you can participate in #143DayPA anywhere you are in the world. The cast of Up with People is doing just that.

Good Deeds From Up with People

Throughout the tour, the cast of Up with People visits various cities around the world for a full week. They spend time during that week to bring volunteer work and intercultural education to the people of that community.

In Metepec, Mexico, the cast of more than 100 people from various nationalities came together to help clean up a river to allow clean water to flow through the town. In Naucalpan, they led workshops for youths and adults to help educate them on cultural diversity, tolerance and how to have civil conversations on difficult topics.

In their upcoming European tour, the cast will continue to perform good deeds in Belgium, Denmark and Germany. This week, the cast will work with Sint-Godelieve, a residential care center that offers services for the elderly in Gistel, Belgium and the surrounding areas.

Through sharing their international traditions and music, the cast will be fully integrated for a full day of cultural celebration. They will also be sharing an international soup recipe withe the entire care facility.

Participate in 1-4-3 Day

There are many ways you can be an active participant in your local community, school or workplace on May 23. Not sure what to do? We have a list of  random acts of kindness here that you can use to get you inspired to spread the love.

The 1-4-3 Day website also has a “Kindness Generator” which will generate new ideas of kindness when you click the button ‘Show Some Love.’

What will you do to show love to your fellow neighbor?


“The further we reach out, the closer we become.”

The Further We Reach Out © Up with People


World Day for Cultural Diversity

Up with People diverse cast of boys and girls traveling abroadWorld Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a internationally recognized holiday created by the United Nations. In November of 2001, The United Nations General Assembly decided that this day would be recognized every year on May 21. The day is meant to promote education and awareness surrounding major global issues.

What is Day for Cultural Diversity?

Also known as Diversity Day, this day was created to help communities all around the world understand the current issues surrounding the cultural divide in our world. It is also a day to educate others on the value of cultural diversity and development so that we can all learn to live in a more peaceful and trusting world. Does this sound familiar? That’s because it’s the vision of Up with People.

“To create a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world.” – Up with People Vision

How Does Up with People Support Cultural Diversity?

One of the core components of Up with People is developing young people into global citizens. Through music and action, we empower youth who travel in our program to become positive agents of change.

From day one, young adults in the program are immersed in a community of over 100 individuals from all over the world. In many cases, they will meet people from countries they have never travelled to or from cultures that they have never interacted with. The cast will not only live with one another throughout the semester, they will also live with local host families from the countries they visit instead of staying at a hotel. This allows each person to see the world from a new perspective and experience a life completely separate from their own.

Our youth also participate in several workshops, seminars and other educational opportunities throughout the semester. Our team of educators and other professionals use these programs as platforms to teach new ways to bridge the gap between cultures. These programs teach young people how to create an open dialogue between different cultures, religions and backgrounds.

Up with People young adults volunteering in Europe

How is Cultural Diversity Affecting Our World?

Cultural diversity is a driving force of development both economically and for overall quality of life. At all seven of UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Cultural Conventions, there is a strong promotion of cultural diversity, and exploration into the ways that cultural diversity can help us achieve more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual lives.

According to The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), more than three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Even if you bring it down to a smaller scale and focus on diversity in schools or in the workplace, there is still room for more education and awareness-building.

Many businesses struggle in this area due to a lack of trust that stems from a poorly built foundation. However, different cultures have different ways of building business relationships, participating in negotiation, or communicating within the workplace. In China, for example, it is customary to start a strong network of trust by spending time together around a dinner table having food and drinks. This type of relationship is called ‘guanxi.’

How Can I Participate in Diversity Day?

Some of the common ways to participate in Diversity Day include attending seminars or workshops by keynote speakers that promote these ideals. However, there are also things that you can do in your local community, school, or workplace.

  1. Get a group together to talk about different cultural values.
  2. Support minority vendors and minority-owned businesses.
  3. Listen to music from another culture.
  4. Watch a movie that involves a different country than your own (don’t worry, subtitles will help you!)
  5. Have an international potluck with your friends and family.
  6. Visit a cultural arts exhibit.
  7. Expand your understanding of diversity by educating yourself with resources through the National Center for Education Statistics
  8. See what types of corporate diversity programs are available at your job, school or university.
  9. Organize a family reunion.
  10. Talk to your teacher or employer about taking a field trip that features a particular culture.

There are many ideas that are available when looking for ways to participate in Diversity Day. The best part is that you don’t have to stop at just one.

Click here for a full list of 88 ways to celebrate Appreciate Diversity Month.


“There is a common beat
That connects us all.
The sound of a constant wind
Blowin’ down the walls.
It sings like a mighty song
A symphony with many parts.
A human melody playin’ in you in me
A common beat of our hearts.”

A Common Beat II © Up with People


Where Are They Now? Interview with Alumna Jill Teas

Jill Teas Up with People Alumna and founder of Voices Rock in Colorado

Up with People Alumni all over the world are taking their experiences in the program and applying them to their personal and professional lives. Just like Jill Teas, the co-founder and musical director of Voices Rock, Denver’s original adult rock choir.

We had the chance to talk to Jill about her time traveling on tour and how it has impacted her life, in more ways than one.

Where are you originally from?

“I am originally from Lewiston, Idaho.”

When did you travel in Up with People? What was your role?

“I traveled in Up with People as a cast member in Cast A from 1988 to 1989. I also traveled as a cast staff member as the vocal coach in Cast C from 1991 to 1992.”

What is your current position? What does that entail?

“Currently I am the co-founder and musical director of Voices Rock, Denver’s original adult rock choir. I direct a group of 180 singers weekly and manage two other choir directors who are also Up with People alumni. Voices Rock is a non-audition rock choir offering three to four 10-week sessions per year. Our mission is to build community through singing.

“Voices Rock has had incredible performance opportunities such as opening for Lady Antebellum at Red Rocks, singing as the finale for TedX Cherry Creek Women 2018 and performing multiple sold out shows at the Oriental Theatre. We also sang for numerous community outreach performances such as the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary Gala, AIDS walk, and Alzheimer’s Walk. This summer we will be singing the National Anthem for the Colorado Rockies vs. Dodgers game in June.

Tedx Performance by Voices Rock in Cherry Creek, Colorado

“I also teach middle school choir at Stanley British Primary school in Denver, operate a private voice studio and perform throughout Denver in an acoustic duo.”

How did traveling with Up with People prepare you for this position?

“Up with People gave me the performance experience as well as the teaching experience that was the foundation for a lifelong career as a music teacher and choral director. It gave me the presentation and communication skills necessary to launch a business and work closely with the broader community.”  

How did Up with People impact your life both personally and professionally?

“Up With People impacted my life in more ways than I can count. Personally, it was education way beyond what my college degree gave me. It was experiential learning with many components of travel. Better yet, I developed a deeper understanding of other cultures from my fellow cast members that I traveled with as well as from my host families. I made some of my lifelong best friends in both of my casts, and I still travel with many of them every year.

Professionally,  Up with People developed my confidence as a performer, and I will take that with me for my entire career.  I also learned everything I know about show production from Up with People, which enabled the launch of Voices Rock.”

What advice would you give our youth in pursuing their passion/career?

“My advice would be to get all the experience you can in what you love and then pursue that dream! You may get turned down for the job or part several times, but that’s okay. You can make anything happen if you work hard enough and don’t give up!”

The cast of Voices Rock performing in ColoradoDid you always know that this is what you wanted to do?

“I always knew I wanted to teach, direct choirs and perform. I always wanted to have an impact on children and instill a love of music in them. I never imagined that I would be able to do the same and more for adults by creating a choir where people could find their voice again and build community.”  

What are your favorite moments from traveling in Up with People?

“Some of my favorite moments were performing at the International Festival in Jordan, swimming in the Dead Sea and crossing the desert on a camel. It was an experience beyond words!”  

What would you tell someone who was considering traveling in Up with People?

“I would tell anyone considering traveling in Up with People that this will be one of the most important things you will ever do. It will change your life in amazing ways.”

What are the top 3 things you learned during your experience in Up with People?

  1. Having a better understanding of cultures
  2. Understanding differences and perspectives and how to apply that to everyday life
  3. Gaining the confidence I have as a performer and teacher

How do you keep hope alive?

“I keep hope alive by igniting a passion for music and community in the adults and children I have the opportunity to work with. Up with People was the impetus for building my personal mission and moving that forward throughout my life.”

“It’s an unfinished world
And it’s still in the making.
It’ll take all we can give
‘cause together we all live
In an unfinished world.”

Unfinished World © Up with People

5 Heartwarming Celebrations for Mother’s Day Around the World

Mother’s Day in the United States is just around the corner, but how do other countries around the world celebrate the wonderful women in our lives each year?

“He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Cast members in Up with People with their host family
Grace, a current cast member in Up with People, with her host mom.

Mother’s Day is coming up fast in the United States. Every year, this national holiday is celebrated by sons, daughters, husbands and wives to express their love and appreciation for the women who brought life into this world. President Woodrow Wilson is recognized as the man who signed a proclamation in 1914 designating Mother’s Day as a national holiday in the United States. It is now held annually on the second Sunday in May. Some of the earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be dated back to Greek civilization in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. This year, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Sunday, May 12, 2019.

How is Mother’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

The United States isn’t the only country in the world to recognize this incredibly special day. More than 40 countries around the world designate at least one day to celebrate mothers. Many countries celebrate it on the second Sunday in May just as in the United States, including Canada, Australia, India, Japan, South Africa and many others.

Other countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland celebrate it on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Most Arab countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the vernal equinox on March 21. You can see a full list of all the countries around the world with their designated annual Mother’s Day dates here.

What you will find no matter where in the world you are, Mother’s Day traditions are usually celebrated the same way. Love is shared through gifts, cards, special meals and other means of expressing pure gratitude.

Mother’s Day in India

Dedicating an entire day to a person’s own mother, however, is something new to India. The Hindus in India have always celebrated the divine Mother Durga and the Great Mother-Kali Ma, also known as Divine Mother, during a festival called Durga Puja in October every year. This festival lasts for ten days as they celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Mother’s Day was quickly adopted into their society because of the immense respect that Indians hold for their mothers. Early traditions in India are in place to strengthen the emotional bond between a mother and her child. It is also an important time to reflect on the pain and suffering a mother endures from the birth of her child until they become an adult. People express their gratitude through cards, gifts and cooking meals.

Mother’s Day in Australia

Australians love their Mums! While this day has become more commercialized, people in Australia still treat this day very seriously. On the second Sunday of every May, you will see people on the streets of Australia wearing carnations as a symbol of the hardships a mother goes through in raising her children. Many others give a gift of chrysanthemums as a popular choice in flowers because they call their mothers ‘Mum.’

In addition, Mothers, aunts and grandmothers are not expected to work on this day and are usually pampered with delicious breakfast in bed or a nice dinner out. There is also a large amount of service events that are held around the holiday. These are meant to help raise money for many women’s causes throughout the country, and the world.

Mother’s Day in Mexico

The first Mother’s Day in Mexico was celebrated on May 10, 1992 and is now celebrated on the same day every year. Because 81% of Mexico’s adult population is Catholic, the holiday has taken on many religious aspects with images of the Madonna and Child being displayed throughout the country.

While it is not a public holiday, it is still taken very seriously by many people. Mexicans are very closely attached to their families. Men and women well into their 40s still live with their parents. It is widely accepted unlike many westernized cultures. 

A popular song, “Las Mananitas” is often sung by mariachi singers in honor of mothers everywhere.

“Despierta mi bien despierta
Mira que ya amaneció
Ya los pajarillos cantan
La luna ya se metió”

“Awaken, my dear, awaken
and see that the day has dawned
now the little birds are singing
and the moon has set.”

Up with People cast members spending mother's day with their host family
Up with People cast members hiking with their host family in Mexico.

Mother’s Day in Egypt

The first official Mother’s Day in Egypt was celebrated in 1956 during the era of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Every year on March 21, Egypt celebrates Mother’s Day in correlation with the first day of spring. This unofficial holiday was said to have first begun through an opinion article written by Ali Amin, an Egyptian journalist. According to the story, Ali’s widowed mother came to his twin brother, Mostafa Amin, with a saddened heart. She had dedicated so much of her life to raising her children, only for them to grow up and leave her behind to live alone.

It was proposed that there should be a day to celebrate our mothers and treat them like queens. “Why don’t we encourage children on this day to treat their mothers like queens, so they don’t let them do any work and instead, perform the house chores on her behalf. But which day of the year should we call ‘Mother’s day’?” Amin wrote in the Al Akbar el-Youm newspaper.

Mother’s Day in Thailand

Thailand chose to celebrate Mother’s Day every year on August 12 to mark the birthday of Queen Sirikit. As the world’s longest reigning royal consort for more than 60 years, Her Majesty was well renowned for her extensive charity work and countless development projects throughout the country. Queen Sirkit is regarded as Mother of the Nation and is celebrated together with Mother’s Day through parades, ceremonies, and private family gatherings.

In the early morning on Mother’s Day in Thailand, ceremonies take place where people will offer food to Thailand’s Buddhist monks as a means of giving alms. Schools throughout the country will hold a special ceremony where children will spend weeks rehearsing special performances. Mothers will come to their school on this day and their child will kneel at his or her mother’s feet to pay respect for all she is done for them. However, most schools, government offices and businesses are closed on this day.

A traditional Mother’s Day gift in Thailand is jasmine, a white flower called “dok mali” in Thai. It is used in worship and symbolizes qualities of purity, gentleness and of course, motherhood.

Celebrating Your Mother Wherever You Are

Above all, no matter where you are in the world, it is always an important time around Mother’s Day to share with your own mother, mum, ahm, or madre. Celebrate them and let them know how much you care this year. Feliz día de la madre!


“Oh, you might be a single parent, you might be a teenage mom,
You might live in suburbia, or maybe you don’t have a job.
But the backbone of the future is in the fam’ly log.
If there is no hope in family, then there is no hope at all.”

Home Foundation © Up with People


What Exactly Is Cinco de Mayo and How Is It Celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo traditions in Mexico

The cast of Up with People had so much to celebrate during Easter week in Mexico, but left for Europe just before another fun and exciting holiday, Cinco de Mayo!

Here’s a question for you: Do you know why people celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Many people mistaken this day for being Mexico’s Independence Day. The real Independence Day is celebrated on September 16 when the independence movement started in 1810. May 5 actually commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 which is 41 years after the country’s independence.

What is the Battle of Puebla?

Benito Juárez was elected president of Mexico in 1861 during a time of the country’s extreme financial crisis. The European governments provided Mexico with a way out through financial support. Eventually, Juárez had no choice but to default on his payments leading to the arrival of naval forces in Veracruz, Mexico from France, Britain, and Spain. Britain and Spain negotiated terms with Mexico and their forces retreated. However, France had something else in mind.

France was ruled by Napoleon III. The French sent 6,000 troops to Mexico to attack at Puebla de Los Ángeles. It’s now currently the fourth largest city in the country. Despite the fact that Mexico only had 2,000 troops and was incredibly outnumbered, the French finally retreated in the early evening after losing nearly 500 soldiers. The country was provided with a sense of encouragement due to the victory of the Mexican troops. It filled everyone with a huge sense of pride for their country.

How Is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in Puebla de Los Ángeles. However, many people join in the festivities around the country. A huge parade of townspeople in the city dressed in French and Mexican soldier attire march throughout the city. There is also a large reenactment of the war. After the Mexican troops win, the city celebrates with music, dancing and vendors serving traditional Mexican food.

The city also hosts the Festival Internacional de Puebla every year on Cinco de Mayo. This festival brings together artists from all around the world along with traditional Mexican dancers and musicians.

In the United States, this day has become a significant celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Large festivals are held in areas with large Mexican-American populations with parades, parties, music, and food.

Boy playing guitar in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo

Want to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Your City?

There are many ways you can participate this year on this festive holiday. Not sure how? We’ve got you covered.

  • Educate yourself on Mexican history and culture. It’s important to know what it is you are celebrating! Share this post with your friends and family so they can learn more about Cinco de Mayo.
  • Dress up and join in a local festival near you!
  • Go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Better yet, learn to cook your own Mexican-style dishes at home to share.
  • Listen to traditional Mexican music. There are several different types, but just to name a few, you can look up Ranchera, Norteño, Grupero, and Mariachi.
  • Learn more about different organizations that focus on immigrant rights and justice such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
  • Toast with a drink such as paloma or mezcal instead of a margarita. These are drinks that are actually popular in Mexico as opposed to the typical drinks we might think of.
  • Take some time to learn a little bit of español! ¡Sí se puede!

The cast of Up with People may not have celebrated Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, but they certainly will be singing their Spanish-inspired music all the way to Europe!

“Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores
porque cantando se alegran
cielito lindo los corazones”

Cielito Lindo

In Memory of Alumna, Lori Gilbert-Kaye

Lori Gilbert-Kaye
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019. Beloved Up with People alumna from 76A.

Dear Fellow Alumni,

The senseless and tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California on Saturday was yet another in an ongoing series of attacks on houses of worship – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – throughout the world in recent days. Once again we grieve for the killed and injured while we honor those who responded with bravery to stop the carnage. On Saturday, the victim and the hero were the same person, Lori Gilbert-Kaye. And this time she was a member of the Up with People community.

Lori was an alumna who travelled in 76A. She lived in Poway with her family where she was a long-time member of the Chabad congregation. Today we mourn her death and pray for her family. We also honor her valor and act of courage as it was reported that she stepped in to protect her Rabbi. When we heard I reached out to fellow alumnus Rabbi Mo Salth for his guidance. Below is part of his response which I hope you will find comforting:

It is widely understood in Judaism that the most important action one can take is to save another person’s life.  It is called in Hebrew, pikuach nefesh. Lori died as she was trying to save the rabbi and therefore she died in the midst of fulfilling the highest act of goodness in Jewish tradition – and we know saving life is a value Jews share with many religions and cultures throughout the world. When a loved one dies it is customary to say about them – May her memory always be for blessing – in Hebrew for a woman, zichrona livracha.  Lori’s life no doubt will always be known as one that was filled with blessing.

Many of you have posted comments and memories on Facebook.  As we remember Lori and think of her family, it reminds us how important our shared experience in Up with People was in helping overcome hate by forging respect, trust and understanding across the divides of religion, race, nationality and ideology. And we are grateful for the many in our Up with People community who, like Lori, continue to live out those values and build bridges of peace in their daily lives.

Thank you all.

– President & CEO, Dale Penny

Can we sing a song of peace
When they’re knocking down the doors?
Can you hold an olive branch
And hang on to what is yours?
Till the weapons that destroy
Go to join the dinosaurs
Will there still be hope at least
If we sing a song of peace?

Can We Sing a Song of Peace? © Up with People

Up with People Alumni – Where Are They Now? Interview with Charles Henry

This month’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ interview features Up with People alumnus Charles Henry. Charles traveled in the mid-90’s with Up with People. In addition to being a true rock-star in Las Vegas, he has also produced three of our most recent hit songs: Home, Roller Coaster (Won’t Let You Go), and It Begins With Us. We are proud to continue working with Charles, and happy to feature him this month.

Where are you originally from?

“I grew up in Henderson, NV just outside of Las Vegas in the United States.”

When did you travel in Up with People?

“I was a cast member in Cast B 1997 and I also traveled in Cast E 1999 as the Band Instructor.”

What was your role?

“I was the lead electric guitarist in the Up with People band.”

What is your current position now?

“For the past 19 years, I’ve played various string instruments (guitar, bass, zither, Chapman Stick) for the Blue Man Group show. I also run my own photography business focusing on real estate and fashion portraiture.”

What do these jobs entail?

“As for Blue Man Group, it’s pretty straight forward. I play about seven shows a week. I’ve also had the opportunity to tour with the show in the United States, Canada and Australia. We’ve been the entertainment at Nascar, opened up for Miley Cyrus and quite a few other fun things.

With my photography business, I take photos and videos of homes in the area for about fifty different realtors. I also do fashion portraits for artists, models, families and the occasional wedding.”

Charles Henry, an Up with People Alumni, at a photoshoot

Can you share with us a fun story about your work after Up with People?

“Outside of the Blue Man Group, over the years I’ve been a hired to play as sideman playing guitar and other instruments on records with various artists and bands. One pretty cool thing that came from that was being able to play guitar and bass for a favorite band of mine, Third Eye Blind. The band is incredible and has been touring since 1993. Imagine if one of your favorite bands called you up and said, “Hey, we need you to play some shows with us!” They have sold more than 12 million records worldwide, won several different awards around the country and I was able to be a part of that. Talk about an incredible experience.”

How did traveling with Up with People prepare you for this position and in life?

Traveling abroad in Up with People more than prepared me for this position, it prepared me for life. It helped me burst out of my shell and learn a lot about myself as well as interacting with people. I became more confident which has allowed me to do so much with my current careers now.”

What advice would you give our youth in pursuing their passion/career?

“You just go with the flow and don’t stress. Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid if your dreams change along the way.”

Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?

“With both performing and photography, yes. I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted! #BLESSED”

To learn more about Charles Henry, you can visit his website at


If we wanna be the change, gotta do more than just say it.
Believe why we stand is how every revolution began:
With a spark of truth, and the power of youth
Every movement started with somebody saying “take a stand!”

It Begins With Us © Up with People

Unique Easter Celebrations in Mexico

Up with People cast performs in Mexico during EasterAs the cast of Up with People continues their tour throughout Mexico, a special holiday that holds great significance to the Mexican culture is happening at the same time. Easter in Mexico is an extremely important holiday where most people will get an entire week off of work to celebrate, pray and partake in the festivities that go on throughout the country. Schools and often businesses will close as well throughout the observance.

Easter is usually a two-week celebration for the entire country. Why is this so important to their culture? According to World Religion News, 81% of Mexico’s adult population recognizes themselves as Catholic which emphasizes the importance of Holy Week, also known in Spanish as Semana Santa. This is one of the most widely celebrated weeks which begins with Palm Sunday and goes through Easter Sunday. The following week is Pascua, meaning Easter, which begins on Easter Sunday and runs throughout the end of the week.

Passion of the Christ Reenactments

There are many ways that Easter is celebrated in Mexico. One of the unique ways is through a large reenactment of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. With elaborate processions and devout Catholics, these reenactments sometimes go as far as ‘self-sacrificing’ by wearing a real crown of thorns and carrying a cross weighing several hundreds of pounds over significant distances. Others will take their dedication a step further by inflicting penitentes, as a way to repent their sins and prove their faith by real physical pain through whipping or other types of laborious work. This tradition has been going on since the middle ages.

The Burning of the Judases

In some parts of the country, a ritual called ‘The Burning of the Judases’ takes place on Holy Saturday. In the 12th-century, wooden dolls were hung around different town squares representing the Spanish inquisitors who burned people at the stake during the Holy Inquisition. Throughout the years, the tradition has evolved to its current tradition where giant Judases and other political figures made from paper mache are crafted, hung, and blown up by fireworks. Children will then run to take remnants and keep them as souvenirs to remember the day by.

Twelve Churches in Twelve Days

Those who want to go the extra mile in sharing their extreme devotion to the Catholic religion will dedicate themselves to visit twelve churches in twelve days to represent and honor the twelve apostles of Jesus. This is a very demanding tradition that can sometimes be difficult in more rural cities where there is not a lot of transportation or a large amount of churches.

Up with People is honored to be able to share in the cultural and historical traditions of Mexico during these two important weeks. As the cast immerses themselves deeper into the Mexican culture during their time traveling North America, it’s powerful to see such an appreciation by so many young adults who are experiencing Mexico for their very first time.


What color is God’s skin?
I said it’s black brown it’s yellow
It is red it is white.
Ev’ry man’s the same in the good Lord’s sight.

What Color is God’s Skin? © Up with People