Skip to main content

Earth Day 2020 – Guest Post on Climate Change

earth day 2020


Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day around the world. While we may not all be able to go outside and participate in ways we have in the past, there are many ways that we are all connecting, contributing, and digitally working to remove our carbon footprint.

Bri Thompson from New York is a cast member of A 2020 and Yassine Chentouf from Bermuda traveled in both B 2019 and A 2020. Their tour was cancelled early due to COVID-19. (Learn more about our Up with People Emergency GoFundMe here). In doing their part to be a part of a larger conversation, they have opened up a dialogue based on a recent question that was posed to the cast from one their own travelers:

How can we come out of the coronavirus more environmentally conscious?

As part of our program, we hold various workshops to help encourage young adults to find their voice as a positive agent for change. We empower our travelers to be able to have conversations about their own beliefs in thoughtful, constructive ways. We enable every person the opportunity to speak their mind freely while remaining respectful towards others who may not necessarily agree. Because let’s face it, at the end of the day, not everyone will agree. But we provide a safe space to grow, learn, and experiment with their thoughts, views, and experiences as they adapt to various changes throughout their life.

Now, we are providing an opportunity to let Bri and Yassine to share their voices from two different parts of the world on the subject of climate change and how they believe we can better the environment after quarantine is over.

So, let the conversation begin.

Guest Post from Bri Thompson, New York, Cast A 2020:

Right now, our world feels like it is coming to an end.  Everything that we consider “normal” or “safe” has been stripped away.  Every movement and touch is in question, every piece of food is in limited stock, and every available job is praised and wanted and feared in equal part.  Everything is harder.

What’s worse is we can see the positive impact our absence is having on this world.  Don’t get me wrong, it is incredible to see wildlife creeping back in, emissions dropping, and the world blossoming.  But there is something a bit disheartening about seeing good things coming from me staying at home, because I know it will eventually end.  One day, whether it’s far off or very near, I will be back at work, back at school, and back at the places that tear up our planet bit by bit.

In my life, I try to do good for the world around me.  I try to reduce, reuse, recycle.  I compost.  I do my best to avoid buying things I don’t need, but it never feels like enough.  Even now, even as we stay home, ice caps are still melting at an insane rate, weather patterns are all out-of-flux, and droughts and other natural disasters are on the horizon.

Climate change is right around the corner, and I’m not even sure it can be stopped anymore.  Not fully, at least.

This leads to feelings like hopelessness, despair, and guilt.  These days, that feels like all there is, anyway.  Just thinking about the scale of the catastrophe that is looming above us and our planet terrifies me.  It would be worse than coronavirus.  It would be worse than anything we as a species have faced before, and it might very well destroy us.

Climate change has the potential to isolate us within our own homes, permanently.  Without the resources to travel freely, our temporary quarantine could become fixed in place forever.  Now, more than ever, we are seeing what that kind of isolation can do.  That’s not even to mention the destruction of our planet’s current ecosystem and of civilization as we know it, as well as the loss of essential resources for many people around the world.

Now, you’re thinking: Wow, Bri.  Thanks.  I feel so much better now.

Yeah, me too.  But I want you to take a breath and bear with me here.  I am the child of two professors who got degrees in ecology.  This provides me with dinner conversations that range from depressing to extremely depressing, but a much more hopeful discussion occurred this Monday.  I was talking about what I wanted to write here on the Up with People blog, and I was just plain stuck in a rut about how hard it is to find the right thing to do when it comes to our environment.  It doesn’t feel like there is anything we can do, sometimes.  All the solutions seem too small to stop this wave of change, like watching a tsunami rise up out of the sea and only having a few sandbags built up to stop it.

But my mom had a lovely insight, and I want to share it with you all, as well.  She said that the problem lies both with our guilt and with our hatred of ourselves.  Our guilt about the state of our environment paralyzes us, freezes us in place and makes us want to look away from the problem.  Away from the pain it sparks inside of us.

And as for our self-hatred, honestly, as a worldwide community and on the individual level, we hate ourselves to a concerning degree.  We judge ourselves harshly for any mistakes we make, we expect perfection and more from everything we do, we shy away from the idea of being bored or doing nothing because it would mean being alone with ourselves and our thoughts for too long.  I’m not writing this as a judgment; neither was my mom.  Personally, I’ve worked really hard to be okay with myself, and I know many others have, too.  But it can feel like an uphill battle, just like climate change.  That niggling voice of doubt always creeps in, criticizing all your actions, your blunders, your faults – and it is persuasive.  It’s hard to shake it, especially when there is so little encouragement in this world that tells us to recognize the beauty that exists within ourselves.  The beauty that exists all around us.

So, we fill the void with stuff.  Empty, meaningless things that barely manage to sate our hunger for distraction.  And that’s okay.  I’m not saying you can never buy a cute Lego set again.  But if, collectively, we were all a bit more conscious of our self-hatred and were able to turn it into self-acceptance… if we were able to stray from the things that only make us lonelier within ourselves and were able to feel comfortable just existing… We could help.

Not a lot, not a revolutionary amount.  We as individuals are powerful, but we don’t have the power to turn the tides (literally) of a worldwide disaster.  But as a collective, as an international network of people, we have the power to work together to slow and maybe even stop this infectious disease of self-hatred, of endless consumption, of trying to fill the void in our minds, hearts, and souls with things we don’t need.

And maybe, just maybe, we could stop climate change like that as well.  By not supporting the industries that try to convince us that stuff is what will fix the problem.  By not supporting the corporations that destroy our world one splash of acidic rain at a time.

At the very least, taking a moment a day to just appreciate yourself and everything that has led to your existence (in the least egotistical but most self-loving way you can) would both improve your life and the lives of those around you.  Not to mention that being comfortable with yourself gives you so much more time to sit back and love the world around you.  The flowers that bloom by cobblestone paths, the trees that tower and curve into the sky, the clouds that float by and create stories we can only dream of interpreting.  The stars that can become muffled by the pollution in the air but which sometimes you can see clearly – an image of the past that has traveled so long and so far and now is being seen by your eyes.

The roar of waves on a shore as the sun sets and glints along their white caps, the snow as it melts on your face, the glow of the sun as it nourishes the ecosystem around you, the ducks in the pond secretly plotting your death.  Most of these things are around you every single day and simply taking a moment to respect them is an opportunity to both positively restore the environment and to restore your mental health.  Maybe build a garden that you can fit in your tiny apartment.  Maybe build a compost pile or find one nearby.  Maybe don’t buy that new car.  Whatever you can do, even if it is as small a thing as giving your appreciation or adding your voice to the movement.  Anything.

When the world restarts, when we all go back to doing things that unintentionally carve away bits of our planet, don’t lose hope.  Just do what you can.  Do your best to care for this planet as it has cared for you but don’t judge yourself for your mess-ups.  Don’t feel angered or hopeless about the things you can’t stop or change.  Instead, try to do a little bit better every day but feel satisfaction for what you have done already.  Growth isn’t nurtured by guilt.  It is nurtured by the acceptance of where you are and the desire to go farther.

So, most of all, allow yourself to love your being and love the world and the people around you.  This is a crisis that we are only seeing the tip of, but we will get through it exactly like we will get through coronavirus.  By doing what we can, even if it feels like too little; by not losing hope; and by supporting those who are doing the same.

Together, we can do this by all collectively doing what little we can.  You’d be surprised by what a towering wall of sandbags can do against a tsunami.

Guest Post from Yassine Chentouf, Bermuda, Cast B 2019 & A 2020:

The natural beauty of Bermuda can never be ignored. Whether it’s from a window, on a nature trail, or a beach, Bermuda is built with nature intertwined with human creations and architecture. The flora and fauna of Bermuda is consistently present no matter where you go on the island. So when I returned home (due to the cancellation of tour in light of COVID-19), Bermuda’s nature provided a comforting presence in the midst of a sad and unfortunate experience.

While we’re in quarantine, nature gives us something to look forward to. While the human world has stopped, the natural world keeps moving. Every morning, I look out my window and at my neighborhood. There’s always something different. The snails climbing on my house, the way the water looks that day (which you can see from almost anywhere on island), even what the sky and the clouds look like. When I go on my runs through the nature trails, I can see the trees growing, the lizards moving, and the plants thriving.

The beauty of nature, during a dark time like this, provides hope.

So in this time that we are all inside, we can all strive to be more environmentally aware. Most of us are glued to technology during this time, and reliant on the electronics and appliances within our house. There is truly nothing wrong with that, as we don’t have much else to do. So for me, part of being environmentally aware is trying my best to watch my energy consumption, and note when I’m being excessive.

Being environmentally aware also looks like interacting with the environment around me, and being appreciative of it. A statement which may sound rather hippie-ish, but after all I am an “uppie” through and through. I try to make sure I take a daily run or walk to enjoy being in nature, absorbing sunlight, and getting some exercise. All of those are activities are beneficial to your mental health, and make lock down just that much easier.

Exiting this period, I will continue my appreciation for the world around me. I will also keep watching my energy consumption at home, a habit which if built now will serve me well in the future. I encourage anyone reading this to take this time to look at the beauty of what could be just outside your door. Become more aware of the environment around you, and the way you interact with it. And make sure you’re respectful and loving of the world you inhabit. It will continue far after us.

I hope the members Up with People community and beyond are doing okay in the midst of this global crisis. This is a trying time for many, and I send love to you all.



“Home no matter who you are no matter where you’re from
We gotta understand that it’s the only one we got it’s
Home no matter where you are no matter where you go
Everything you see everywhere you look around you you are home.”

Home © Up with People

In Memoriam: James E. MacLennan, 1931-2019

We are greatly saddened to report that James Ellis “Jim” MacLennan, a founding member of Up with People’s leadership, passed away peacefully on November 27, 2019.  Jim is survived by his loving wife Carol of 52 years, son Kent and daughter-in-law Jennifer, and beloved grandchildren Justin, Cameron and Alessandra.  He is also survived by nieces and nephews David Currie, Jill Reeves, Craig Currie, Bruce Carlton Currie, Erik MacLennan and Kristina MacLennan.

Jim was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 26, 1931 to Finlay MacLennan and Grace Barr MacLennan.  Jim was the oldest of their three children, with sister Francis and brother John having predeceased him.  After living his early childhood in Detroit, Jim grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he graduated high school.  During those years Jim spent several summers on his paternal grandfather’s farm in Lochalsh, Ontario, Canada which were formative experiences for him.  Upon high school graduation in 1948, Jim left home to join the international organization Moral Re-Armament.  This adventure took him all over the world with extensive stays in England, Italy and the Philippines, and shaped his worldview and commitment to build global understanding.

In 1964 Jim was part of a leadership group that organized the Conference for Tomorrow’s American on Mackinac Island, Michigan that led the following summer to Sing Out ’65 and the creation of the international educational and cultural organization Up with People.  Jim held leadership positions throughout his career with Up with People including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer where he played a central role in the growth and development of the program.  In 1993, he organized the move of the Up with People international headquarters to the Denver area.

Upon his retirement in 1994, the board of the Up with People International Alumni Association renamed one of its achievement awards as The James E. MacLennan Everyday Hero Award, which continues to be presented annually. In naming the award after Jim, then President of the UWPIAA Paul Woidke, wrote, “For more than twenty-five years, the mission, the voyage, the experience we call Up with People has had a behind the scenes flight director. He was…seldom in the limelight, but his contributions to the growth and success of this program are unquestioned. He is, in fact the prototype of an Everyday Hero.”

Jim spent many happy years in retirement in Colorado and thrived in his role as a grandfather.  One would find him regularly at myriad sporting events, piano recitals and school functions of his three grandchildren with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

A celebration of Jim’s life will take place at Arvada United Methodist Church in Arvada, Colorado on Saturday December 14th at 11:00 AM.  In lieu of flowers, his family would request donations be made to the Up with People scholarship fund in his name (click here).


A Global Ecosystem

Post from Up with People President & CEO Dale Penny:

When I left Up with People in 1995, I worked with a national youth conservation service organization (The SCA) for 17 years. Our mission was to develop young environmental leaders through stewardship of the land. College interns and high school volunteers worked to preserve and restore public lands in backcountry and urban settings.

What I came to understand was we weren’t simply conserving the land…we were really working to sustain the ecosystem of the places where we worked. An ecosystem is simply a community of mutually dependent parts — animals, plants, bacteria, soil and water– which interact to sustain life. Each part of that system is dependent upon other parts to exist. Without them it ultimately will die.

At Up with People we are working to sustain the global ecosystem which includes the interdependent community — not only the natural world but also our social structures including cities, nations, businesses, economies and political frameworks — that make up life on this fragile planet. We are all inextricably tied together. Our health, our security and our future depend upon our working together as an ecosystem…a community of mutually dependent parts.

There was a time when humans could build walls around their cities to keep the others out. Oceans and mountains could prevent others from being a threat. But technology, transportation and communication have rendered those protections obsolete…oceans, mountains, even walls won’t work anymore.

Now we simply have no choice but to learn to think and live and act as global citizens. We must find ways to honor our differences, to learn from each other, to take a chance on trusting those who are unfamiliar and to serve those in need. Because In the end, we are one ecosystem with each part dependent upon on other parts to exist. Without them we ultimately will die.

The good news is that there is a great network of nonprofit organizations (NGO’s) throughout the world that offer opportunities to help sustain this global ecosystem. One of these programs is Up with People, a global nonprofit whose mission is to empower young people to be positive change makers in their world. Over 22,000 current and former cast members from over 22 countries share the commitment to break down walls of misunderstanding and help build a more trusting, hopeful and peaceful world.

Home – no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from

We gotta understand that it’s the only one we got it’s

Home – no matter where you are, no matter where you go,

Everything you see, everywhere you look around you, you are home.

Home © Up with People


Young People Unite for Positive Change: Up with People Youth Programs Growing at Record Pace!

Excerpt from speech given by Up with People President & CEO Dale Penny for Up with People Jr. Campers, Parents & Staff:

After the week we’ve had, the troubling scenes we’ve been watching on TV, and the divisive
language that we’ve heard from too many people throughout the country, we sometimes need an affirmation that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. What you’re going to see this afternoon [at the Up with People Jr. Show] is that affirmation. We believe young people are the best voice we have to remind us that with intentionality and with respect for each other we can find common ground, we can build a future together as a people. That is what these young people represent today, that is what the staff represent that have worked with them this week, and that is what Up with People was founded on 53 years ago.

Today, Up with People is more than just a traveling cast of Up with People, it is programs like this all over the country. Our first Up with People Jr. camp is happening in Europe, in Belgium this summer, so we hope to expand these camps throughout this country, throughout North America, Europe and eventually in other parts of the world. We think that’s going to play a part [in making our world a better place]. We also have Camp Up with People for teenagers in Virginia, and we have other Up with People traveling programs. 

More than anything, Up with People today is an international community of people who believe that, as one of our songs in the show used to say, “I cannot turn away, and pretend that I don’t see that what’s happening to you, is happening to me,”

That’s a global community, that’s what these kids represent and that’s what all of you represent by sharing your children with the team here this week.

Read the full lyrics to “What’s Happening to You”  at or listen on iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon. 

Up with People To Visit Kosovo

For the first time in its history Up with People is headed to Europe’s youngest country. Cast A 2018 will arrive in Kosovo in a few days time. Why Kosovo? While Kosovo has made significant strides since her independence in 2008, this post-conflict nation still remains one of the poorest in Europe with over one-third of its population living under the poverty line and over fifty percent of its youth population unemployed.

Working alongside local non-profits in Kosovo, Up with People’s Cast A 2018 along with the ‘Impact Kosovo’ program seeks to bring together and connect young leaders from around the world to learn, act and make a difference!

Brad Bungum (Vice President, Managing Director of UWP Europe) says, “The genesis of the Kosovo tour goes back to our relationship with an alumnus of Up with People who runs a nonprofit called New Day Impact. I had the opportunity to join them, to experience what they were doing to help the people of Kosovo. This was the spark that lead to Up with People’s first tour in Kosovo.”

This region is the poorest geographical region in Europe by far and is incredibly isolated. For example, citizens must apply for a visa to go to the rest of Europe. The average age of Kosovo’s population is 28, making it the youngest age demographic in all of Europe.

This is an incredible opportunity for Up with People to fulfill its missionthrough music and action, we empower young people to be positive agents of change for a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world–in such a young country.

Brad explains, “UWP will spend  time with local youth and expose them to the spirit and hope of an UWP international cast. Our CEO Dale Penny talks about how we must go to places of consequence. And Kosovo is a place of consequence. The only way this country is going to succeed long term is because of the youth. So we need to go there.”

Gjakova, Kosovo – City Center

During the visit Up with People cast members will visit local schools, work on New Day Impact project sites, deliver food to families in need, spend time with families who were displaced by war in 1999, and plant trees in the capital city of Pristina in a zone they will be creating called the Up with People Zone.

Arnab Dewan (Tour Manager, Europe) says, “For the cast to get a chance to see Kosovo, with so many youth unemployed, is an amazing and interesting time to visit. Young people meeting young people talking about the future and inspiring others. We will be participating in a social impact workshop with the Jakova Innovation Center (JIC) which the cast is very excited about. The JIC promotes entrepreneurship for young people. They will be giving us real life problems for their citizens and in 2 days we help come up with a real life solution to solve social problems.”

As the cast and staff concludes this week in Bruges, Belgium, expectations and excitement are building for what will be a historic week for Up with People and an incredible life changing experience for all those involved. “This was a just dream two years ago. It is exciting to see it come true and we hope this is just the beginning. I can’t think of a more important region in Europe than the Balkans. I can drive there in about 20 hours from my home in Denmark. On my first visit I remember thinking, ‘this is Europe, but it’s such a different world.’ The poverty and living conditions are extremely difficult. I know this will be a profound educational experience for our cast members and my wish is that we can leave behind a spirit of hope and optimism for the future for the people of Kosovo within our host families, in the schools that we visit and through the  songs in the show.”

For more information on Up with People’s world tour and show dates click here.


When in Rome: Performing for Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica

It’s not everyday you get to perform for the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, but that’s what a group representing Up with People has the chance to do in December when they travel to Rome, Italy to perform on the stairs of St Peter’s Basilica in front of thousands of people as part of the Papal Audience, the pope’s weekly morning address.

“We know that it’s exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our cast members,” says Tim Lane, Vice President of Human Resources and Alumni Engagement at Up with People. “While Up with People is not a religious or political organization, performing on the steps of the basilica before Pope Francis and those in attendance is an extraordinary honor. It helps us get our mission across while providing an incredible experience at the same time.”


Our group will perform before Pope Francis begins the service. Songs will include an international medley, featuring “What Color is God’s Skin?,” an Up with People classic, and “Viva La Gente,” our theme song.

Each Wednesday, to start the Papal Audience, the pope greets everyone in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and sometimes other languages depending on groups that are visiting. He also gives mention to the visiting musical groups. The Papal Audience consists of small teachings and readings. At the end, he prays with everyone in attendance and blesses the crowd. After the address, Pope Francis will come down to the audience. It’s up to him if he wants to shake hands or lay his hands on their shoulder. “It’s quite an intimate opportunity,” Tim says.


Among the thousands of people in the crowd will be Up with People alumni and eXperience program participants. We will have special seating at the base of the stairs, in front of those who have to stand behind a barrier.

Our eXperience program gives alumni and members of the public from around the world the unique opportunity to travel. When plans align just right, the eXperience program travels to a location on the touring cast’s schedule. Trips are either funded by a sponsor or are paid for by the cast and eXperience participants. Our eXperience program has traveled to Manila, Cuba, Israel, Amsterdam, Paris, and Florence. This year’s trip, December 3 through 10, welcomes anyone who performed in “The Journey,” a show we launched in 2015. We often get parents participating in the eXperience program, too, because they want to see their child performing abroad.

Leonardo Guarnieri, an alumnus who traveled with Up with People in the 80s and now works with the Vatican, helps us plan trips to Rome when he can. We love having an alumnus who cares about continuing the success and excitement of our organization. While in Rome, he helps us gain special access to areas of historical sites that typical tourists are not allowed to visit. For example, among the tourist attractions our group will visit are the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square, Sistine Chapel, and the Roman Forum. The group is also traveling to Florence for a day to visit Uffizi Palace, see Michelangelo’s David, and view the magnificent Il Duomo Cathedral and the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.

“It’s a pretty exciting trip,” Tim says.

It is bound to be a memorable week of shows, community service, and touring.

How Do We Keep Hope Alive?

How Do We Keep Hope Alive?
By Eric Lentz and Michael Bowerman, co-writers of the Up with People show

How do you measure hope? In a recent edition of Time magazine, guest editor Bill Gates assembled articles from a diverse collection of writers and public figures, including Trevor Noah, Malala Yousafzai, Ava Duvernay and Bono to answer that question. A central theme ran true to all of the articles – despite what we may read in our daily news feeds, there is more reason for optimism today than there has been in decades.

For over 20 years, we have been honored to work for Up with People, an organization whose mission is to inspire people to make a positive difference in the world. As Artistic Director and Music Director, we are responsible for leading the writing process for each new Up with People show. We are incredibly honored to have this responsibility, and we do not take it lightly. As songwriters, we find ourselves surrounded on all sides with inspiration for songs, and at the same time, we see the stark reality that the mission of Up with People is more necessary today than it has ever been.  The combination of recent world developments, the rising tide of optimism in the youth of today, and the necessity to activate hope led to the theme for Up with People Live On Tour 2018: keep hope alive.

Hope needs to be activated… it’s more than a song lyric or a greeting card. Hope without action is just an emoticon: nice, perhaps fun to look at, but ultimately one-dimensional. Our goal with this new show is to activate hope: to inspire people to make their own personal commitment tokeeping hope alive in their communities. As always, the stars of the production will be aninternational cast of young people from 20 countries – what makes the Up with People show special is the combined power of these diverse young change-makers joining together in a common message of unity.

The thematic thru line or ‘red-thread’ of the show is the pursuit of the answer to this question:how do we keep hope alive? Throughout the 2-hour concert experience, the audience will be encouraged to actively engage in the search for answers to this question. New songs such asStronger Together, What I’m Feeling Now, Maybe I, Roller Coaster, and Keep Hope Alive pose questions and raise awareness. Recent favorites like Home, Party ‘Round The World, Footsteps of a Girl, Crossroads and Through Your Eyes return to the show and  address universal questions such as the environment, gender equality, the migrant crisis and global perspective.

Up with People’s famous pop medleys are still a part of the show but are much more than just an “era” retrospective.  The medleys are connected to the ‘red thread’ of the show and are themed on three key aspects of the Up with People student experienceTravel, Perform, andImpact.

We invite you to join our international network of Hope Activists: in the comments section below, create your own personal commitment to keeping hope alive by answering this question: how will I keep hope alive?

We look forward to hearing from you, and maybe we’ll see you on tour!


Political Polarization Got You Down? Pope Francis and Andrea Bocelli Find Hope In Young People

No matter where you live in the world, it seems politics is bringing out the worst in us. Watching the news can leave one disillusioned and depressed at the state of things. Political polarization pits neighbor against neighbor. Simply having a civil conversation doesn’t even seem possible anymore. According to the Pew Research Center, politics has divided us more than at any other point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in a myriad of negative ways, both in politics and in everyday life. 

Is there hope? If so, where can we find it?

Pope Francis and Andrea Bocelli have both recently met with and found hope in young people traveling with the international organization Up with People. Pope Francis has urged young people to not lose hope and not be taken in “by the messages of hatred or terror all around us.” A lesson we can all learn something from.


Through music and action, we empower young people to be positive agents of change for a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world.

In August 2017 Up with People was invited to perform with international superstar Andrea Bocelli at the Teatro Del Silenzio in Lajatico, Italy. Bocelli expressed the hope and inspiration he found in those young people in a recent letter to the organization.

“The young musicians of “Up with People” are pure energy; they are the tangible expression of the only revolution possible – the revolution that makes us all better. Music can speak to us in ways that other languages find hard to do; music can touch the most intimate and wholesome regions of our souls without them being affected by prejudice, and with no strings attached. Good music can open our hearts and minds; it can teach us fellowship and show us the way … 

A very Merry Christmas from Andrea Bocelli.”

Pope Francis also greeted Up with People (Viva la Gente) during a Wednesday General Audience in Rome. The group had the opportunity to sing for Pope Francis, and he met personally with them afterward.

Earlier this year, via a Google Hangout, Pope Francis spoke about the need for a “human” globalization, as opposed to an “elitist” education, and told young people that a life that isn’t shared with others belongs “in the museum.” 

“We all have something to give, and we all have to open ourselves to receive from the other, and in this way, we globalize in a human way.”

At the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Spanish Steps, just before Up with People performed, Pope Francis prayed that our world can “develop antibodies against the modern diseases of … indifference, incivility, contempt for the common good and fear of foreigners.”

For over 50 years Up with People has been circling the globe with the goal of bringing people together. This is now more important than ever and perhaps best summed up in the lyrics of the popular Up with People song A Common Beat.

We all have a story
Our histories tell us where we’re from.
Old legacies and legends
Repeating beating like a distant drum .
Can’t these be foundations
Of a bridge between we and they?
The past is not our future
Only fear is in our way.