Taking time to travel and experience a semester or gap year on the road can be scary. For over 50 years young people from across the globe have taken that leap. Up with People now has over 22,000 alumni scattered around the world. The benefits of this formative time are many and blend together across multiple areas including soft skills that are in demand in the worldwide job market. In our new ongoing blog series, we interviewed Up with People Alumna Celiana Dolovitz to gain insight about what she gained from her time on the road and where she is now.
When did you travel in UWP? What was your role?
I traveled in UWP in 1997 as a participant, then I had the opportunity to travel for many years in different roles in the Marketing Department. Event coordinator, Finance administrator, Business Manager, Tour Manager.
What is your current position now?
I am the co-founder of Soul Trips.
What does that entail?
I plan wellness retreats to empower women through volunteerism, personal growth workshops and the practice of disciplines like yoga, meditation, pilates.
How did traveling with UWP prepare you for this position?
Up with People gave me the opportunity to see the world and explore other cultures while traveling with people from many different countries and backgrounds. That made me a much more aware person of the needs of the people and communities around me. I fell in love with volunteerism and I discovered that many people need a platform to travel, disconnect, help communities and find connections with others. That’s why we started Soul Trips.
How did UWP impact your life both personally and professionally?
Well, my husband traveled with me in the same group in 1997. We were dance partners for the Festival Show of Up with People and never thought we would end up together, but, here we are.
Professionally, Up with People taught me to be creative and adaptable. To work well with all different kinds of people and to make the best of the resources I have. Soul Trips would have never come true if it wasn’t for my training in Up with People.
What advice would you give our youth in pursuing their passion/career?
Go for it! You will never be ready or fully prepared for what your life throws at you. Time flies and if you keep waiting for the “perfect” moment to start, that moment might never come. Just trust that your life has given you the tools to confront any challenges. It’s ok to fail because it’s only a sign that you are growing as person, as a professional, and as a business owner.
Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?
Not always, dreams and goals change through time until you find the right for you. Once I started Soul Trips I knew this is what I wanted to find, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
What was your favorite moment when you traveled in Up with People?
How can I pick one favorite moment? I can tell you that every day in Up with People had a special kind of magic. But if I have to choose one… January 1997 when I arrived in Denver, going to my host mom’s truck, dragging my suitcase under a snowstorm. It was my first time seeing snow! Who knew that was going to be the beginning of a whole different life for me.
What would you tell someone who was considering traveling in UWP?
Up with People was the best decision of my life. It shaped me into who I am today. There are many cultural exchange programs nowadays, I don’t think any as complete and thought through as Up with People. The education component of Up with People is a powerful tool that you can use in your future, and the size of the network you automatically gain when you join the program is second to none. If you are considering it, congrats, you are halfway there, just go for it!
What are the top 3 things you learned during your experience in UWP?
- I learned to respect everyone for exactly who they are, without seeing the color of their skin, their culture, background, sexual orientation, or religion.
- I learned to see the world through the eyes of others. The community service aspect of the program taught me to be grateful for what I have, and showed me the reality of so many around the world not as lucky as I am. I learned to help communities and people without shame or fear.
- I learned an unlimited amount of tools for my future on a personal and professional level through workshops, internships, Cultural awareness sessions, meeting influential people around the world, etc.
How do you keep hope alive?
Keeping hope alive has to start from home. I am grateful for what I have and for the life I get to live everyday, for the opportunity to share my talents and gifts with others. I keep hope alive by giving women the opportunity to raise their sense of gratitude by empowering themselves through workshops, volunteerism and the practice of wellness disciplines.
“And all our children can see the day
When battlefields are fields of play
And it lies yes it lies within our reach.”
Within Our Reach © Up with People