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13 Apr, 2020   |   

Up with People Cast Virtually Connects with Students from Hopi Nation

hopi nation


The cast of the Up with People Spring 2020 tour may have all headed home early, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t continuing to stay connected! From sharing their #IWillShareHope videos on social media to having multiple calls throughout the week with one another, the cast of young international global citizens are constantly finding ways to keep hope alive. This week, Up with People travelers from Europe, Bermuda, and the United States had the chance to speak with students from the Hopi Nation about their culture and experience.

Prior to the Spring 2020 tour ending, the cast had an opportunity to visit with students from the Hopi Nation, an Indian Reservation near Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. This last Friday, a call was organized by UWP Alumna and current second year teacher at the Hopi Reservation Mariquit “Kit” Tantuico Palabyab for these same students to reconnect with the cast.

Previously, Kit’s students worked on Native Voice letters, where they discussed areas of Native American culture that many people might not know about such as the prohibited distribution of alcohol within the Navajo Nation, Kachina initiations, and the significance of certain foods within their culture. During their call with the cast, they were all able to reflect and discuss how they felt about the project along with what they have learned about their respective cultures.

“My students were nervous as this was way out of their comfort zone,” said Kit. “but I am so overwhelmingly proud of these kids! Brave enough to still participate under difficult and new circumstances with technology to boot!”

Bri Thompson from New York in the United States shared her final words with the group when they closed out their session together. 

“I feel a lot of ‘second-hand pride’ for you guys and how you’ve retained your culture,” said Bri. “I think that it is really beautiful when there have been so many issues and feelings of hopelessness, yet you continue to work through them regardless.”

A special thank you to Kit and her students from Hopi High School for taking the time to reconnect and share your feelings during this time. It truly was a beautiful way to build bridges and keep them strong in order to find understanding surrounding other cultures. 

We would like to share a very impactful message from Kit regarding her and her student’s experience interacting with the cast of Up with People, as well as her message of hope for Native Americans everywhere:

“The students expressed that they wrote about the various issues they face on a daily basis out here, at home and in school. Depression, hunger, arsenic water, lack of jobs, no representation in history, and in daily life outside of their reservation. The students I brought were so excited about the friends they made from all over the world. It was refreshing to see them interact with the cast. The students who are usually shy and quiet were forced out of their comfort zone, but because they were faced with people who genuinely wanted to learn and listen to them, they blossomed.

I guess I would really like to highlight the fact that indigenous voices are rising. It’s the platform I’ve chosen to take. I would like to commend and recognize Up with People for still going so strong in their efforts to build a culturally sensitive, accommodating and inclusive global community that promotes mutual respect, growth and peace. I always saw Up with People delegates as ambassadors of peace and taught my students to treat them as such. Therefore, I urge the organization to safehold that, to strive for excellence, education and truth. With technology and information so readily available it’s hard to filter out truth from fiction and in an already muddled reality, so many people are still left out. Native America deserves to shine their light. 

There are 574 registered tribes in North America alone. Several more are struggling to meet the American government’s criteria to be registered as a tribe. Blood quantum, broken treaties, organized genocide. It’s the underbelly of any victorious empire. Our great nation is beautiful, America is still the dream that many strive for. But it is not perfect. No country or people or history is free from bloodstains. But there are lessons from mistakes. It is not shameful to admit them, in fact, admission shows humility and strength…even wisdom. I believe there is hope to reconcile Native America and the United States. With this generation of kids, one that now has the potential to have a just existence, we may have a chance to truly be the home of the free and the brave. 

There is a beautiful Hopi proverb that I use in class often to remind the kids why my subject still has importance. “You can’t plant corn in a straight line without looking back every now and then.” History serves as a reminder of where we’ve been, but is not a sure answer to where we are headed.  We learn from past mistakes and successes to ensure that we understand who, what, and where we are now in order to make the best decisions for the future. 

My student tour happened through receiving a scholarship. I could have never traveled in Up with People when I did because my family or myself could never aspire to raise that much money in one year. So yes, donations, people who see the light in youth who have promise, I am a product of the organizations faith in me and my voice. I would like others like me with the same heart to have this opportunity.”

To learn more on how you can donate to the Up with People Emergency Fund, please visit our GoFundMe Page Here.


“Cause there’s magic in the moment
When someone understands somebody else.
Let’s sit right down and talk about it,
Wearin’ no disguise,
‘Cause everything looks different
Sharin’ someone else’s eyes.”

Someone Else’s Eyes © Up with People

One Reply to “Up with People Cast Virtually Connects with Students from Hopi Nation”

  1. I am just humbled but also so happy that these letters my students wrote are reaching a much wider audience. Thank you for valuing their voices, for seeing them and for giving them an opportunity to travel the world and speak to the world all in one night.

    The show, the interactions, they mattered more than anyone really realized and knew.

    Much love!

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