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21 Aug, 2019   |   

Part 1: A Year Abroad with Ivy

What’s it like to be a traveler in Up with People? Ivy from Texas gave a testimonial about her gap year traveling in Up with People. As a participant in the Study Abroad program, Ivy talks about not only the knowledge she gained from her teacher, but also about the personal growth she experienced during her time abroad.

Ivy from Texas

Study abroad student smiling in Europe


As a traveler, what was the reason behind choosing Up with People as your Study Abroad program?

“I grew up hearing about Up with People from some of my cousins who are alumni of the program. It instantly became one of my life-long goals. As I got older, I chose Up with People because I realized that it’s everything that I’m passionate about all in one place. I love traveling, immersing myself into cultures, developing my leadership skills, helping other people, and making connections. I found every one of those things in my year in Up with People as I went to a new city every week. I had the chance to connect with my castmates, my host families, and the communities that we visited while making a difference along the way.”

What was your favorite part about traveling in Up with People?

“I think my favorite part of traveling in the program was the way that I found myself while discovering the world at the same time. You think you know yourself, but as you are discovering the world you are learning about who you are as a person within this world. I think that’s so important and such a big part of being a global citizen.”

Volunteer abroad students in Up with People painting a muralWhat do you feel you have gained the most out of traveling in Up with People?

“I feel like Up with People has made me more aware. That sounds really vague, but I almost mean it vaguely because it encompasses so much. I feel more aware of what’s going on in the world around me at all times. There is an awareness of why people are the way they are on an individual level and from that I’ve gained so much empathy. I’m also more aware of myself and how my actions affect or are perceived by other people. I learned about civility within topics that are hard to talk about with an awareness of the world issues, respect for people’s opinions, and an understanding of how my words and actions can be used in such a way to gain understanding and share my perspective with compassion.”

What advice would you give to others who are considering joining the program?

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in the details and try to define everything that you’re going to experience from the beginning. It’s something that I did and it’s something that one of my roommates did as well. Just remember that you can’t anticipate every experience that you’re going to have and it’s best to live in the moment. Just go with the flow, which is something I never thought I would have said before my experience in Up with People. I always needed to know every detail of what to expect. Now it’s much easier for me to  “dance with the circumstance,” as they often said in my time in Up with People.”

Two study abroad students playin gin the snow in winter

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

“This is something I’ve thought about a lot lately and I think the answer has to remain no. Sure, there are things that I regret and things that I would do differently now, but in the end, everything happens for a reason. Everything plays a specific role. I wouldn’t be the person I am today or learned the lessons that I did if anything had been different. I’m so grateful for all of the hard lessons I’ve learned through every uncomfortable experience and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Any other thoughts you would like to add you think people should know about being a traveler in Up with People?

“I’ve never felt more alive. I’ve changed so much through my time in Up with People. It really showed me how small the world can be and how easy it is to connect with others. I feel incredibly empowered and that I can accomplish so much more than ever before. It showed me what career path I want to take, what kind of people I want in my life, and what I’m capable of as a person. Everything feels so limitless as I reenter life outside of Up with People and I’m so excited to integrate it into my life from now on.”


“We will trust in each other
When it’s all on the line
We will rise up, together,
We will keep hope alive
Keep it alive…”

Keep Hope Alive © Up with People

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