For the first time in its history Up with People is headed to Europe’s youngest country. Cast A 2018 will arrive in Kosovo in a few days time. Why Kosovo? While Kosovo has made significant strides since her independence in 2008, this post-conflict nation still remains one of the poorest in Europe with over one-third of its population living under the poverty line and over fifty percent of its youth population unemployed.
Working alongside local non-profits in Kosovo, Up with People’s Cast A 2018 along with the ‘Impact Kosovo’ program seeks to bring together and connect young leaders from around the world to learn, act and make a difference!
Brad Bungum (Vice President, Managing Director of UWP Europe) says, “The genesis of the Kosovo tour goes back to our relationship with an alumnus of Up with People who runs a nonprofit called New Day Impact. I had the opportunity to join them, to experience what they were doing to help the people of Kosovo. This was the spark that lead to Up with People’s first tour in Kosovo.”
This region is the poorest geographical region in Europe by far and is incredibly isolated. For example, citizens must apply for a visa to go to the rest of Europe. The average age of Kosovo’s population is 28, making it the youngest age demographic in all of Europe.
This is an incredible opportunity for Up with People to fulfill its mission–through music and action, we empower young people to be positive agents of change for a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world–in such a young country.
Brad explains, “UWP will spend time with local youth and expose them to the spirit and hope of an UWP international cast. Our CEO Dale Penny talks about how we must go to places of consequence. And Kosovo is a place of consequence. The only way this country is going to succeed long term is because of the youth. So we need to go there.”
During the visit Up with People cast members will visit local schools, work on New Day Impact project sites, deliver food to families in need, spend time with families who were displaced by war in 1999, and plant trees in the capital city of Pristina in a zone they will be creating called the Up with People Zone.
Arnab Dewan (Tour Manager, Europe) says, “For the cast to get a chance to see Kosovo, with so many youth unemployed, is an amazing and interesting time to visit. Young people meeting young people talking about the future and inspiring others. We will be participating in a social impact workshop with the Jakova Innovation Center (JIC) which the cast is very excited about. The JIC promotes entrepreneurship for young people. They will be giving us real life problems for their citizens and in 2 days we help come up with a real life solution to solve social problems.”
As the cast and staff concludes this week in Bruges, Belgium, expectations and excitement are building for what will be a historic week for Up with People and an incredible life changing experience for all those involved. “This was a just dream two years ago. It is exciting to see it come true and we hope this is just the beginning. I can’t think of a more important region in Europe than the Balkans. I can drive there in about 20 hours from my home in Denmark. On my first visit I remember thinking, ‘this is Europe, but it’s such a different world.’ The poverty and living conditions are extremely difficult. I know this will be a profound educational experience for our cast members and my wish is that we can leave behind a spirit of hope and optimism for the future for the people of Kosovo within our host families, in the schools that we visit and through the songs in the show.”
For more information on Up with People’s world tour and show dates click here.