Yassine is 17-years-old and is a first semester traveler in the Up with People gap year program from Bermuda. Yassine shared about his experience coming from a small island, to traveling the world for the very first time.
“Coming out of high school and coming out of a really small island, I wanted to experience more of the world. But now that I’m here, I’m here for so much more than that.”
What has your experience in Up with People been like so far?
“My experience in Up with People has given me a much broader world view. It has developed me and I feel that I’m more mature now than when I first arrived. It has given me a sense of accomplishment from hard work, something I never got out of school.”
Why do you believe programs like Up with People are important?
“Programs like Up with People are important because there aren’t many of them. I feel like they offer development in a completely different way then other gap year programs. The ability to not only grow their students, but impact the communities they stay in, it’s worth every penny.”
“Oh, the earth is movin’ underneath our feet,
And thing’ll never be the same up and down our street
‘Cause we’re livin’ in a world in motion.”
Meet Scott, a 1st semester traveler in Up with People from Longmont, Colorado!
Why did you decide to travel in Up with People?
“I decided to travel in Up with People because of all of the experiences and stories I’ve heard from other people that have traveled.”
What was your first week like after you arrived in Denver with the rest of the cast?
“My first week, it’s very, very much go-go-go. Here at Up with People, they keep you very busy, but everything has a purpose and I think everything that they’re teaching you, they do for a reason. You can take something out of that.”
What do you hope to gain out of your experience in Up with People?
“What I hope to gain out of Up with People is to learn something about everyone here and everyone that I meet. I feel like everyone has something to offer me, to further my knowledge of the world and to help my community.”
What are you most excited about for this upcoming tour?
“I am most excited about getting to meet new people, getting to travel the world to see things people my age would never get to see, and do things they would never get to experience. Doing that with a group of your closest friends that you’ve met and performed with, I think that part is going to be one of my favorites.”
“You’ve got a song that the world should hear,
Don’t keep it to yourself, don’t keep it, don’t keep it.
You’ve got a love that the world should feel,
Don’t keep it to yourself, don’t keep it alone.”
Elena is a first semester cast member in Up with People from Switzerland. She is excited to announce that she will be traveling for a second semester in Up with People for the Fall, 2019 tour!
What did your life look like before coming to Up with People?
“Oh boy, it was pretty average. I was working and working and working. I worked in a cosmetics store in sales. I also have been dancing since I was 9-years-old.”
What is an issue that you feel really passionate about?
“What I am most passionate about is human rights. Everyone should be able to live as who they are and what they identify as. There is a lot of inequality in the world and a lot of smaller social groups that are being hated on and disrespected by government officials. The government should ready to accept everyone for who they are instead of standing in their way.”
What is something you have seen yourself grow in during Up with People?
“I’ve grown in a lot of ways and definitely as a performer traveling abroad. I didn’t perform a lot before even as a dancer. I learned a lot about stage presence, giving it your all and having top energy even though you are exhausted. As an individual, I’ve grown a lot too. I am more open to diversity, more open to learn and more open to fail.”
What is your favorite part of the show and why?
“The end! We are having a good time and partying on stage. It’s the best part because it’s just us hanging out and being ourselves before we close the show.”
What do you think is the most impactful or empowering song in the show?
“There are so many! My personal favorite is Home. It makes me cry and is such a great song. The environment is another thing I am really passionate about and Home is a song where I can basically tell my cast how much I love and care for the world, and for them. My favorite lyric from the song is ‘Everywhere is home.'”
What is the first thing on your bucket list?
“The first thing on my bucket list is seeing a full circle rainbow.”
What would you like to do after Up with People and what will you take with you?
“Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be more open to failing and realizing that every failure is a lesson. I can learn from it and it’s not that bad to fail. I will be doing a second semester in Up with People. After that, I definitely want to continue traveling the world.
Do you have a quote you live by?
“Live simply, so others can simply live.”
“Everything you see everywhere you look around you you are home.”
On this week’s Meet the Cast Monday, meet James from South Dakota and the lighting technician for Up with People. His internship in the program helped him gain new skills towards his future career. See what he has to say about his experience in the program.
What did you do before joining Up with People?
“Before Up with People, I was in high school where I competed in speech and debate, participated in show choir and in plays, and always found ways to keep myself busy in after school activities.”
What is an issue you’re passionate about?
“I educate myself in politics involving different political systems, especially in the United States. I’m extremely interested in bettering our political system and finding ways where we can find compromise between the divide.”
What’s something valuable you’ve learned from your Up with People experience?
“I’ve definitely learned how to be open to new experiences, new foods and really new anything. The program helped me get out of my comfort zone into my challenge zone so I can have the ability to conquer anything that life brings me. I also value everything I’ve learned throughout my internships in lighting, sound and tech. It’s what I want to do with my life and the experience I’ve gained in Up with People is extremely beneficial for exactly that.
What is a quote you live by?
“‘It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that as you get back up, you rise just as the whole damn fire.’ I think to believe that you are always on top of whatever you want to achieve, you will only set yourself up for frustration and failure. But if you can recognize that there are going to be times where you fall down and accept that it’s perfectly okay, you’ll be ready to get back up and give it everything that you’ve got.”
How did your internship help you with your current position?
“My internship is what taught me enough to be able to get into working as the lighting technician for Up with People. I knew that I wanted to pursue theater production after traveling in the program, so I tried to learn all that I could. I was able to learn from someone that was very knowledgable in the field. He allowed me to go to him with almost any question to either be given the answer, or be able to find the answer.”
What advice would you give to people who are considering to join Up with People?
“There are many different reasons to join Up with People and there are many different programs that you can join. To me, Up with People is an all encompassing organization. If you love to perform, if you love to do service, if you love to meet new people or gain new experiences, it wraps it all into one amazing program. Even if it’s something you might not necessarily love, there is so much of the tour that is still for you. Plus once you start traveling, something you may not have loved before will all of a sudden become the reason why you’re still traveling and why you want to continue to travel.”
“Life was knocking at his door, sayin’ Open up to so much more Raise your hand, Take a stand Come on and see The truth should set you free Who will you be?”
This week on our Meet the Cast Monday series, we are thrilled to have you meet Momo, the dance captain for Up with People!
What are some of your interests and passions?
“My passion is to dance, as well as education for kids. I believe everyone around the world should have equal access to a good education and have the freedom to dream.”
What were you doing before you came to Up with People?
“I was studying education and English in college for three years. I decided to take some time off because I thought I needed to take time to do something in my life that I enjoyed doing. I had always wanted to learn English at an early age of about 5 or 6. I wanted to be friends with more people than just people with a Japanese background. At that time, the only way I could think to be able to study somewhere else other than Japan was to go study and be a part of an exchange program.”
How did you become involved with dance?
“Once I came to travel in Up with People, we had something called modules. They put the participants in groups to see what talent there was throughout the cast. I had been put in one of the dance line workshops and really liked it. When I first joined, I couldn’t speak English. I found dance as another language that I could speak even with the language barrier. I eventually became dance captain at Camp Up with People. It was a little scary because I didn’t feel good enough at first. It was after my year of traveling in the program and I couldn’t believe they chose me as dance captain. I ended up being dance captain three years in a row at the camp and was able to train myself a bit more, especially with having such a great mentor. I tried coming in every year with the hopes of becoming a better version of myself and I worked really hard while I was in Japan to continue dancing whenever I had the chance. When I came back to Up with People, I felt like this was where I was supposed to be.”
What is an issue you’re really passionate about?
“Freedom for children. It’s really sad to me that I see young people in Japan commit suicide. I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-olds view suicide as an option in their short lives. I really care about how they think and how they can express themselves outside of the box. I want them to feel like they can always be themselves, which is something I’ll always be extremely passionate about.”
What is your favorite moment in the show?
“The first song, It Begins With Us. The moment the whole cast comes on stage and everyone is singing the line ‘When truth becomes our common ground, we won’t give up, we’ll never back down.’ I feel the power within the cast because that is the moment that we live in. We are the future of this generation and every time I sing that song, I think about my brothers and sisters. I think about the people in the cast who are going to go do great things after Up with People. I just believe that is truly such a powerful moment.”
What is the next thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?
“I want to live happily. I always need to be honest. Even though I may not have all the things I need to do the things I’d like to accomplish, I always want to make sure I’m honest and kind to others. That’s something I feel like that could bring some good fortune to me. The first thing I’m going to do once I’m out of Up with People is see my family and tell them how much I love them.”
Who is an idol or someone you look up to?
“One person I look up to I’d say is my mother. She’s so strong, wise and independent. She always loves first and allows us to be who we want to be. She’s not scared to let her kids explore the world and that’s something I can’t appreciate enough. I have so many role models, but another person who has inspired me is my friend Miguel. He traveled in Up with People and he was someone who taught me and brought out more passion in me. He guided me so much through showing me how capable I am. He taught me how I can always do more even when it was hard to imagine the power I had in me.”
“I’ll talk to people I’ve never known before
We’ll travel countryside on distant shore
Plantin’ a spirit that you can’t ignore
I’ll give all I have and more”
We had the chance to sit down with Carson, a cast member in Up with People from Montana, to learn more about his life before and after traveling abroad in the program.
What are some of your interests and passions?
“I really enjoy singing and performing. Being outdoors is very enjoyable to me whether it’s working, playing sports or camping with friends.”
What is your role in Up with People?
“This is my first semester traveling in the program. As far as a role, I’d consider myself as an ally and a friend to those around me. If anyone needs advice or any help, I genuinely offer it to them.”
What did your life look like before Up with People?
“I felt like I was stuck in a routine. I just graduated college and I wasn’t working the most entertaining job. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do with my life and the opportunity to travel came to me and I figured I should give it a shot.”
How has your experience in Up with People been so far?
“It’s changed me a lot as a human. I’ve noticed my growth and have loved being able to meet so many different people. I also have expanded my horizons when it came to my perspective on the world. I’ve been able to see through other people’s eyes, different cultures, and help people in the communities of those people.”
What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago?
“I can sing pop music and have the stage presence to do so. Up until now, I’ve been so used to classical music and musical theater where I had to play a different character. With this music, I’ve realized you have to be more of yourself and make the story more of your own. It’s a different experience for me to be myself on stage versus playing a character given to me.”
What advice would you give to people who are considering to join Up with People?
“I’d say to do everything possible to take advantage of this experience. Do all you can do to come here because it is honestly such a worthwhile experience. The growth in the people that I’ve traveled with is so valuable and unforgettable. We do different exercises and workshops that help make you grow so much as a human. You get to experience the world and what the people in it are like.”
What is an issue that you are passionate about?
“I care a lot about the rights for people in the LGBTQ+ community as well as the environment, and refugees. This program really opens your eyes and exposes you to a lot of different issues and topics around the world. I feel more confident in knowing what is happening around the world now than I did before coming to the program.”
What is a culture shock you’ve experienced on tour?
“Going from Mexico to Europe was a huge change to me. The food caught me by surprise since I had been so used to the spices and the lively flavors. I’m slightly missing that from Mexico. In regards to the actual culture and people here, they’re both very accepting and I’ve experience small bit of language barriers in both.”
“Here we are And now the story’s changing Can we hear Beyond the words they are saying Maybe when all sides Can rise above the noises We’ll listen to the voices Of the world”
In This Week’s Meet the Cast Monday, Meet Nicole, A Cast Member in Up with People from Bermuda!
What were you doing before you joined Up with People?
“I was working at a retail store called ‘Making Waves.’ I had just graduated high school this past May.”
What have you learned from your experience in the program so far?
“I have learned that there are a lot of different ways to look at the world and you have the choice to choose whether it is positive or negative. I like that people here choose to look at the positive side more often.”
How have you seen yourself grow while traveling so far?
“I feel like I’ve gotten better with handling conflict. Previously, if I were to disagree with someone, I would just leave the conversation. Now, I believe I have gotten better at being able to actually talk to the person about it and come to terms with it. It’s better to have an understanding of their point of view rather than to allow the frustration to continue. I have also grown with my social skills with meeting new people. Before, I would choose to not go out to meet people and stay comfortable. Recently, I have been able to have conversations with new people more often.”
What is your favorite part of the show and why?
“The international medley is definitely one of my favorites! It is really fun to watch, especially Gumboot. Gumboot is a dance in the medley from South Africa, and the performers are so great and so into it. Also, our Korean song and dance; the moves and the formations are so entertaining.”
What is an issue that you are passionate about?
“I’d say LBTQI+ rights. In Bermuda, I’ve noticed it’s something they are struggling with. For me, I feel like it is a basic human right to be able to get married to the person you love. I believe it should be allowed everywhere.”
What would you like to do after Up with People, and what are you going to take with you from what you have learned in the program?
“After Up with People, I will probably be studying economics in Brussels, Belgium. I want to try to help improve my country because by choosing to study economics, I can make a change in the workplace and hopefully beyond that. I would like to work in human resources, or something similar to it, and try to prevent sexism and contribute to improving any similar issues.”
“If you can’t remember
How to say what’s on your mind
Find a way to show it
Way before you run out of time
Don’t forget to make a stand
Before this groove gets really out of hand… yeah”
Meet Daniel, A Cast Member in Up with People from Mexico!
What made you join Up with People?
I had hosted Promotion Representatives when Up with People came to my city a year ago in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I found out that Up with People was working towards issues that I found important and I wanted to work on myself. Traveling has always been a must for me in the sense of having a deeper understanding in certain issues and really internalizing different ways of thinking.
What has been your favorite part of the program so far?
Above all, my favorite part has definitely the host families. I feel like that’s when we really get to indulge in the cultures of the places we encounter. It’s always a little surprise because you never know what kind of people you’ll be living with for a week. Sometimes you can get some really common people and other times you can have these absolutely amazing people that you wouldn’t have expected.
How does it feel to be in the band for Up with People?
I feel like it’s a cool little group that not a lot of people get to experience. If anything ever happens and something goes completely wrong, you always know your bandmates will be there for you. I guess you can say it’s an instantaneous friendship and bond with some good company.
What are some challenges that you have had so far in the program? How have you overcome them?
For me, I’d say being proactive and trying to be okay with things that you may see unfit or unfair in the program, and working around them. I’d say I’ve overcome them by approaching the people who I find inspiring, most knowledgeable or the best at executing their own traits and talents.
Do you think having a problem with your leg has impacted your experience here?
I think having that issue just changes every experience all together. At some points I realize that it’s helped me gain a lot of different skills, like patience and gaining a perspective of acceptance towards limitations of something that I couldn’t do much about. It does make some aspects of the program a little harder to accomplish. I feel like at this point, it’s a lesson that I’ve already gone through.
Do you think that has made you act differently in the program?
I honestly don’t think so. One thing it does give me at times is inconvenience. There had been times where I was in a lot of pain and had to stop walking to lay down and raise it in the middle of the street. At that point, I can’t really give up my satisfaction or my relief from the pain for someone else’s comfort. It helped me become more okay with myself and allowing myself to have opinions and being on the unpopular side.
What is something you would tell a future Up with People participant?
I think flexibility is undoubtedly the utmost important skill you can have. Not so much in the sense of working, but more so in being willing to learn something from each and every experience. Even if it looks terribly uncomfortable, I think the moment you start to realize that life is so much more than your comfortability, that’s when you can start to fully experience the program.
It has been such an exciting time for the cast of Up with People. After several weeks in the United States and another few weeks in Mexico, the cast has finally made their way to Europe!
The arrival of the cast in Mexico was long-anticipated thanks to an overnight flight delay on their transition from the United States. The cast arrived in Celaya around 9:00 PM and was swept away by the enthusiasm of their host families. The following day, the Club Rotario Celaya sponsored a taco stand and mariachi band to welcome the cast with singing, dancing, and overall merriment.
Volunteering in Mexico
While in Mexico, they were involved in several community action projects to benefit each of the cities throughout the tour. In Celaya, the cast planted 600 trees and painted a mural for Servicios Municipales. They also set up a temporary food bank and distributed food for Fundación Nutrición y Vida A.C. In Metepec, the cast partnered with Rotaract de Toluca in their “Basura Challenge” to help clean up a ravine to allow clean rainwater to flow through.
The cast also participated in a large amount of workshops including a workshop about giving constructive feedback to one another and building on nonviolent communication techniques learned earlier in the semester. The reflections from this tour will not only continue to impact the cast members as individuals and a team, but it will also positively influence the way the cast impacts other communities moving forward on the tour.
Now that the Mexican tour has ended, the cast has made their way to Edegem, Belgium to kick off their first week of the European tour. “This will be my first time in Europe,” said Marissa, an Up with People cast member from Colorado. “I’m looking forward to all the new experiences that involve all the different people and cultures. I’m excited to visit where some of my cast mates are from and being able to finally experience Europe for myself after hearing so much about it.”
Where Will the Cast of Up with People Be Next?
The European tour will run from April 29 through June 5, 2019. The cast will be spending time volunteering and performing throughout these cities:
“There are many roads to go And they go by many names. They don’t all go the same way But they get there all the same And I have a feelin’ that we’ll meet some day Where the roads come together up the way.”
Have you ever hosted someone from another country in your home? Whether you are taking in an exchange student or have a traveler needing to sleep on your couch for a day, being a host family is one of the most rewarding experiences not just for the family hosting, but for the person being hosted too!
When the cast of Up with People travels during their international tour, each member will stay with a host family as a way to immerse themselves further into the culture. It’s an opportunity to share with each other more about their lives and customs. Speaking different languages, cooking new foods, and sharing new traditions are all ways that both our cast members and host families connect to learn more aboutone another.
Since 1965, more than 800,000 families from all over the world have hosted Up with People cast members. They have graciously invited these young adults into their homes anywhere from a few days to five weeks at a time.
Some of the current cast members shared some of their favorite host family experiences and shared with us what they gained from the experience and what they loved about the experience.
What do you love about staying with host families?
Katelyn from Canada: I really like staying in host families because you get a more authentic experience where you are. You get to have conversations about the culture surrounding you and it’s so interesting. It’s nice knowing you get a new family every week wherever you go.
Marije from the Netherlands: Every week is so special because each week is different from the last. You learn so much from it. Sometimes there’s a chance they don’t even speak the same language, but you can overcome that challenge and learn to communicate.
Larissa from Belgium: It’s the contact that we have with the world. You’re constantly networking and being immersed in the culture. Every time you enter a new family, you truly become a part of it and you feel this great connection with them. One that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a part of Up with People. You begin to feel how small the world really is.
Daniel from Mexico: I think the biggest part this program has to offer is the cultural immersion. It’s a real cultural experience. I love the idea of sharing a home with someone who thinks differently than you. Host families have a variety of ways of thinking, and it’s cool to hear the thoughts of the people you temporarily live with.
Host Family Experiences:
Ivy from Texas: I love the opportunity I have to see all the different walks of life and talking to people with different perspectives. It’s really cool to see people live in different ways than me. I think one of my favorite host family moments was just a couple of nights ago here in Mexico. My host dad was telling us all of these stories about his crazy life experiences and how he met his wife. We talked about being global citizens and it brought me to tears. It reminded me of why I’m here.
Sam from Switzerland: It’s great being able to live their culture and live their everyday life. I’d say a favorite experience would be from my previous semester when we visited Mexico. Both my host parents were climbers and they took a few of us to the middle of nowhere to climb. It was an awesome experience that will be in my memories forever.
Carson from Montana: The overall experience is just incredible. You get to stay with this family who may live in a completely new environment than what you were raised in. You get to experience their culture, their day-to-day life and the food. I love trying new foods so much. I’d say a highlight this semester was in Lacey, Washington. Both of my host families were alumni of Up with People and they came to the shows both nights. On the second night, once they were more aware of when I or one of my roommates were going to be on stage, they screamed our names as loud as they could. They were easily our biggest fans.
Aaron from Colorado: One of my host families from our first few weeks on tour really made it feel like home. They were so nice and made everything so comfortable. They reminded me a lot of being at my grandparents’ house. It’s great having that connection that goes beyond just meeting them. Living with a family breaks the barrier of small talk. Even if there’s a host family I don’t speak the same language as like here in Mexico, it’s more about seeing how each other lives. You don’t really get that anywhere else.