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Jakob travel report


Jakob travel report

Perhaps the best time of my life
Traveling with Cast A 23 in Latin America
by Jakob Schobloch (A 23)
Premiere after the forced break of several years due to coronavirus: thirty young people traveled with UWP for three months last summer. One of them was AVUWPD scholarship holder Jakob Schobloch. Here he describes his experiences with the new program, which includes longer stays in the cities, fewer shows, a smaller cast – but just as much UWP spirit as in previous generations.


Start in Querétaro

Staging in Querétaro was a very intense and beautiful experience. Maybe even one of the best in Mexico. For two weeks, I lived with five other guys from the cast and staff member Julio, who was also about our age, in a co-living situation in an apartment just for us. My roommate in the room was Emiliano from Mexico. Living together made for many memorable moments and evenings, not only with the boys, but also with all the other UWP castmates who came to visit us (and we them) regularly.

Every day we learned new choreos and songs. Every activity, from the curriculum to scavenger hunts and singing sessions in the old town to trips to the beautiful towns of Peña de Bernal and San Miguel de Allende, I can’t get them out of my head.

Querétaro was just the beginning of really getting to know everyone, but after the first day it felt like I had known everyone for months. Even then, the first two weeks seemed far too short and I had no idea what was still to come …

Mexico City

In Mexico City, we stayed with host families for the first time. I myself was lucky enough to stay with our logistics staff member Humberto, alias Willy, together with my host brother Donaldo from Guatemala. We were taken along to so many activities: Garribaldi (Marriachis), various bars and city tours and I saw my first pyramid in the mountains south of the city.

Sightseeing was not neglected with the cast either. Together we saw the city center, the impressive palace and, as part of a host family picnic, the large park in the center of Mexico City.

Even though it was the first time I wasn’t together with my new family from all over the world, at least in the evenings, this time was still characterized by wonderful people: my host parents Humberto “Willy” and Carlos. They went out of their way to make sure we had a great time – it was second to none. I would give anything to have Willy cook me arepas just one more time.

Texcoco in Mexico

On our bus trip from Mexico City to Texcoco, we made a short stop at the pyramids of Teotihuacán. I will never forget these incredible buildings. Shortly afterwards, we reached stopover number two. We visited a school and first had to complete a more or less sensible sports program, but it was a lot of fun – which is what counts most in the end. In the evening we arrived at our hotel in Texcoco, where I had Jackson from Costa Rica as my host brother. The hotel time was characterized by a lot of curriculum, late nights with half the cast in the rooms and lots of watching the Hockey World Cup, of course with castmate and field hockey player Leni Weichardt.

Our first show in front of 1,300 people was also unforgettable, as was the dress rehearsal in front of around 300 spectators and the subsequent after-parties with the audience. What a feeling it was to pull off such a successful show after two weeks of staging and two weeks of halfway rehearsals. And off we went to Colombia.

Bogotá in Colombia

In Colombia, we were in the same city for three weeks. Nevertheless, it was a time of incredibly diverse and incredible moments. It all started in week one, when I arrived with my Mexican castmate Alejandro in a host family who didn’t speak English. Alejandro was my translator for the first two or three days, until I realized that I apparently did speak Spanish.

The bus trip back from the hotel (where we had rehearsals and curriculum), which took several hours every day and meant that we didn’t arrive at our host family’s house until eleven o’clock in the evening, is also unforgettable. Nevertheless, they always served us typical Colombian specialties for late dinner and then breakfast. We often ended the days with long conversations at the dinner table and then painted Alex’s guitar case.

At the weekend, our host family took us to their small country house just outside Bogotá. There we had even more traditional food and games and evening walks in the Colombian countryside. Simply an unforgettable week.

Movie nights and songwriting

On the second Monday in Colombia, it was time to say goodbye to the host family and settle into the hotel, this time with Adrian Schmid as my roommate. As in Texcoco, the next few days were again characterized by late-night rounds with the cast in different rooms. This time we were not allowed to leave the hotel after six o’clock in the evening without a staff member. To compensate, there were movie nights and songwriting sessions.

Nevertheless, the few times outside the hotel were unforgettable. We went to bars with the whole cast and staff and celebrated Mexican Independence Day in the local clubs. Of course, the highlights again included the double shows and a visit to an amusement park on our last (free) day in Bogotá. After Colombia, half of the tour was already over, far too quickly to realize at the time.

San José in Costa Rica

On my birthday, I went to the airport in Colombia at two o’clock in the morning and from there to Costa Rica. This country was in a category of its own. But let’s start from the beginning: my time there began with a karaoke evening in the hostel on the first day. This time I shared a tiny room with Jackson, Alex and Adrian. We spent most of our time outside the room anyway. There were a few foosball matches between us and the hostel had also prepared some activities in the evenings. If there wasn’t anything suitable on offer, the whole cast went out to explore the surrounding area together. As in the two previous cities, there was also a scavenger hunt in San José – always a highlight.

To round off our time in San José, a good 15 of us went rafting on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica at six in the morning. We went on a five-hour whitewater rafting tour through the jungle on one of the country’s most beautiful rivers.

San José was perhaps the city with the most activities outside of the curriculum and rehearsals. It was a very intense time, but the intensity was not about to wane …


In Puntarenas, we were once again accommodated in host families. This time it was the same family for me and my Canadian castmate Spencer. Puntarenas was a little different from the other cities. As a city in a beautiful location, it turned out to be extremely hot. 40 degrees with 90 percent humidity didn’t exactly make life easy for us. And we had more rehearsals in this extreme heat than in the previous cities. We were prepared for the upcoming show in this temperature and the rotations between the individual singers began.

In addition, the host families were much less affluent than in the previous cities, which wasn’t a problem for me, but was definitely an interesting experience. I had a very nice host family, I often talked to my host father about the philosophy of life in Costa Rica or the three of us played cards with Spencer. We ate breakfast every morning in my host mother’s restaurant. I enjoyed my time with the host family.

In the second week, we stayed in a hotel again, which I couldn’t complain about. I had Philipp van Sprang as my roomate, with whom, together with Estefania from Costa Rica and Naieli from Mexico, I kept ordering burgers in the evening because the food just wasn’t enough for us. The hotel also had a pool, which we used as a cast for several evenings. Our shows were also a little different than usual. There was a lot of rotation in the first show and the second was almost canceled due to complications with the locals, because one of the local singers felt he had been treated unfairly, but then took place as a private show for families and friends in the hotel.

All in all, Puntarenas was a very special experience, but one that I would never change. Also because, in the end, the good experiences outweighed the bad ones and the new experiences became memories that I enjoyed in the end, no matter how difficult they were.

Extra: Isla Venado

While we were in Puntarenas, we went to the island of Isla Venado for two days. The journey there took some time and was fantastic. We took the ferry, then the bus, then had to wade through the mud to small boats, which took us to the island. There we slept in small “shared flats” in various huts and houses.

During the day, we helped out wherever we needed to on the island. I was in a group where we helped island children learn English and cleaned the school. We ended the day with the locals in the island restaurant. On the way back, we stopped at a floating restaurant in the middle of the islands.

Isla Venado was probably one of the highlights of the whole tour, if you had to choose one.

Guatemala City

In Guatemala City, the situation changed somewhat. For the first time, I was in a host family where I had more than just a roommate. Together with Jackson, Raeya from the USA and Frida from Mexico, I was assigned to a host father who was anything but poor. We lived in a high-rise building with a roof terrace and home gym – which we made use of quite often – in the center of the city.

Our stay here was extended from one to two weeks due to the unpredictable political situation in Guatemala. There were blockades and demonstrations in support of the newly elected president. We made the best of it. Our host father took us to the city center, amusement parks and other places. From time to time, Spencer and his host family came over and spent the days with us. On one of these days, we found out that his host mother used to be a national volleyball player in Guatemala and she immediately took us to one of her training sessions.

In the first week in Guatemala City, we had little contact with the cast, apart from online meetings and a few visits from Arantxa from Mexico, Samantha from the USA and Nele Mohr. In week two, we met again as a large group in one location to do curriculum and games. Another highlight was that a relatively large group of us went to Lake Attitlan on a day off and spent the day in the middle of several volcanoes.

Although parts of this stay had not been planned, Guatemala City is an integral part of our tour. Filled with lots of spontaneity and wonderful moments, I won’t forget this time in particular in a hurry.

Antigua in Guatemala

Antigua looked very similar to Querétaro. It gave me the feeling of being back at the beginning. As if I had been given a nice rounding off. Here in Antigua, I got Donaldo as a roommate again – I’d had each of the boys as a roommate at least once by now.

The cast was divided into two groups, which were accommodated in two different locations. One group lived right in the city center and the other just outside. I belonged to the group outside the city, which meant longer journeys but had a nicer look, with all the plants and the open grassy area in the middle of the town. I also got to see a lot of downtown Antigua here. We were able to explore it well on several shopping tours and scavenger hunts.

Capstone projects

This was also the final of our respective Capstone projects and we gave our presentations in Antigua. We had been preparing the capstone projects since Colombia. By and large, everyone had chosen a problem in their society at home and thought about a project to tackle it.

My personal highlights in Antigua include playing the ukulele with Nele and Julian from the USA, various games organized by Phillipp and, of course, the closing banquet. The evening was perhaps the best yet. There was a dinner, speeches, last photos – legendary ones were taken here with Paulina Bauss, among others – and videos of the tour. An unforgettable evening!

The farewell

But the most emotional part was yet to come. We drove back to Guatemala City to say goodbye and spent the last few hours together in the same hotel room. We listened to music, watched series, talked and hugged each other for the last time. Tears were unavoidable as we said our goodbyes.

I spontaneously spent another month and a half traveling through Mexico and the USA with Simi from Liechtenstein, but the UWP trip was a time that I could never and would never want to replace. I can only recommend it to anyone. Even though there’s a lot I haven’t mentioned, like the volunteer work planting trees and cleaning the youth home in Mexico, the jungle clean-up in Colombia, songs I wrote and memories I don’t think I need to say much to make it clear that this was perhaps the best time of my life so far!

Jakob Schobloch was in charge of Cast A 23’s Instagram account during the tour, and the images and films created there can be seen at @uwp_cast_a23. To this day, UWP has not completely let go of Jakob, who joined the marketing department as an intern after the trip and contributes short films and posts for Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. QR-CODE

Capstone Project

Cast members work alone or in small groups to develop action plans within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that will continue to have an impact after the tour. Examples of Cast A 23 projects: Pretty Period: Educate, provide, normalize (free period products for all women)

Fostered Futures: Guiding foster teens to achieve their dreams (Mentoring for foster children) Secondhand Sew: Slow fashion saves the world (training young people to upcycle clothing)    Rip’N Tidy: Cleaning beaches, inspiring futures (beach clean-up campaigns and commitment to active environmental protection)Salv-Arte: Free expression: the path to mental wellness (Strengthening the mental health of young women through artistic expression) A Shared Christmas Time: Beautifying the Christmas season for people suffering from poverty (supporting poor people in Recklinghausen, especially in winter, and raising awareness of the problem of (hidden) poverty)

Thank you very much for the AVUWPD scholarship!


Daily learning units on changing key topics. The type of learning ranges from discussions, workshops and external speakers to reflection times, diary writing or creative exploration of a topic through poetry, music, visual art …