As an organization, we strive to inspire others around the globe. When we heard about the devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico only two weeks before our cast was scheduled to visit, we knew we had to help in any way we could. So, we altered plans in order to make the biggest impact toward the relief efforts.
“This is a time when people are hurting and it’s really good to have the cast here to help,” says Misael Oliver, an Up with People Tour and Admissions Manager in Mexico.
According to Misael, many people and numerous organizations were offering support, helping with rescue efforts, and volunteering to provide necessary supplies the two weeks immediately after the earthquake hit. Eventually, the organizations have to use their resources elsewhere and people have to go back to daily living. He also said, much of the immediate help centered around Mexico City, leaving highly impacted areas such as Puebla and Morelos, Mexico, still in need of assistance. That’s where we stepped in.
The cast spent an entire day on the production line at The Mexican Red Cross packing boxes with food, medicine, clothing, and hygiene products. All the boxes packaged that day went to earthquake victims in Morelos.
CULTURE SHOCK IS MORE EXTREME AFTER EARTHQUAKE
Cast members, who mostly come from first world countries such as the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and China, are told prior to the trip to expect some culture shock along the tour. “I think that every tour when we come to Mexico, that’s when our cast actually experiences a different culture,” Misael says. “That’s when the culture shock happens.”
Despite the warning and training on how to handle the difference in cultures, he says nothing could have prepared them for the aftermath of a natural disaster.
“It’s much more touching to them,” he says. “Some of them came to the staff and said the projects here in Mexico had the most impact of any on the whole tour.”
Not only did they experience a different culture than they’re used to, but they saw a dire need for help. They saw that the boxes they packed would feed a child in need, that they could put a smile on the face of an orphan.
“That feels very moving for them,” he says.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
Misael, who was in the midst of planning the cast’s Mexico tour when the crisis hit, said plans quickly needed to change. A one-week tour stop typically takes one month to plan, he says. But Misael and a group of staff and supporters helped alter two weeks of activities in only two weeks.
Our cast was originally scheduled to stay in Cholula, Mexico, the first week and Mexico City the second week before moving on to Querétaro and Monterrey, Mexico. Instead, we reached out to our support system in Naucalpan, a city that hosts Up with People every few years. In one week, the cast of 90 was set up with 50-60 host families.
Rather than staying with a host family for only one week and moving to the next city and next host family, the cast was able to stay with their host families in Naucalpan for two weeks.
UWP RAISES THOUSANDS FOR DISASTER RELIEF
We turned the four-week Mexico tour into a benefit tour, raising money for the United Way of Mexico to directly help those impacted by the earthquake.
Between three shows, the cast raised 330,000 pesos, which is equivalent to $20,000 in the U.S.A. According to Misael, it would be a huge deal if the cast raised $5,000 at any given show, so raising nearly $20,000 in three shows is incredible. “When people learned that the show was going to benefit the emergency fund, I think everyone came together and was willing to help,” he says.
The cast’s tour in Mexico will continue in Querétaro.
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Topics: "On The Road"
Up with People is a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers young adults an unparalleled study abroad experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time. Click here to learn more about the internationally acclaimed program, Up with People.