Kelly’s Up With People Blog

this week we were in the rio grande valley, made up of many cities (mcallen, pharr, edinburg, westlaco, hidalgo, and alamo) and it was the perfect way to end my up with people experience. the city was sponsored by the united way of south texas, so we had tons of community service activities. my favorite was at the world birding center where a small group painted a mural on an eco-friendly building made of straw and plaster. it came out really well, i’m glad I could be a part of it. I especially loved the slogan for their community garden- we dig edinburg!
our show was at the Dodge Arena- oh my god! it was our biggest venue and biggest crowd yet. thousands of people were there, I was in awe. the high school auditoriums are what we’ve been used to, but this was on a whole new level. we might not sell out eleven shows like elmo, but I was still very happy.
since it was our last show, there were some tears. during “we’ll be there” the whole audience waved tissues 🙂
flight to bermuda is about to take off, gotta go!


Cast A spent the last week in Tucson, AZ, the birthplace of Up With People. There are tons of alumni in the area, and thanks to their hard work we were able to arrange a show on the day we arrived, Up With Tucson! It was a great show, made even better by the variety of performances. We did a few numbers, as well as drumming groups Sticks & Fingers and Baucaxe, a group of young irish step dancers, a chinese choir and dance group, and Viva Arizona, a local dance group. It was so nice to be able to watch others showcase their talents, I loved all of it! Two days later we had our own full show, plus a mariachi number I got to dance. We put on huge skirts, very traditional looking, and did a big skirt-swinging, stomping, Mexican dance! The dress was fun to wear, I could fit entire people under it 🙂
Tucson was fun, now it’s off to our LAST city, the rio grande valley in texas!

The past few days have been spent in Gallup, New Mexico, a town that borders the Navajo Nation. I have been roomed with three awesome girls and we have had an amazing week together. Last night we had a busy night- Walmart, dinner at a restaurant where they sell jewelry table to table! it was definitely a new thing for all of us to see. at home, we baked a cake for a castmate’s birthday, painted our nails and did a chocolate mud mask while it was baking, and lastly we played dress up! My host mom Pam is part Navajo so she let us try on her traditional costumes and wear some of her amazing jewelry collection. it was so fun, we took tons and tons of photos, i’ll share some soon!
Gallup has been great, we got to participate in an Elder’s Festival to bring the community’s elders together. it was great to see everyone in the Navajo community uniting to support their elders, it’s something the rest of us in the cast can learn a few things from.
I will be sad to leave Gallup, but tomorrow it’s back to Tucson for our Up With People show and a special Up With Tucson event!


Posted on: May 25, 2009

what do you do with 90 young people in a weeks notice when they need shelter, food, and something to do? that was the dilemma our staff was faced with when we decided to cancel the first two weeks of our mexican tour. in a stroke of luck, an up with people staff member had contacts at Forest Home camp. the camp staff had just been saying how they had tons of work to do before summer began and not enough manpower/money for it. it was fate that our organizations joined together, and it was great for everyone. we got the chance to live together as a cast, which not many groups get to do. we did painting, cabin demolition, trail making, landscaping, and more. on our last day they told us that we saved them over 20k with the work we have done! I did painting all week, we painted 3 cabins, one shack, and a building with bathrooms. it was quite a feat, i’m impressed with how much we got done.
in addition to work, we had tons of fun! one night was had a talent show, probably one of my favorite memories of the trip. I had taught a class earlier in the week on irish step dancing and I convinced my group to do a performance. they rocked! dave gets props for wearing a skirt- I mean, a kilt. I was very proud of my group, it was a fun night.
our last night was the 90’s dance! spice girls, backstreet boys, nirvana, lit- it was a great music selection and we had some awesome costumes. we had an amazing week at camp, it was last minute but one of the best weeks we’ve had thus far!

hey everyone! sorry i’ve been so behind on my blog but I haven’t always had internet, but I figured out how to post from my phone!
if you didn’t know, our mexican tour got cancelled. we were all pretty bummed, but instead we went to the southwest. our current stop is the Hopi reservation in arizona. I love it here! we saw dances by the kachinas on arrival and today. they are such beautiful representations, I love that the Hopi are so dedicated to them.
we saw a few dances on our arrival day, like the eagle dance, horse dance, hoop dance, and dances to bring the rain. my favorite was the hoop dance, the dancer had 5 hoops and he’d jump through them, quickly turn them into orbs, or link them behind his back like wings. it was unbelievable! though I think we did the rain dance a little too well, all of a sudden dark clouds rolled in and it started pouring! we waited til the dance was over, then we booked it to our luggage which was unfortunately outside and booked it inside! after getting our host family assignments the rain stopped and there was the most perfect rainbow i’ve ever seen in my life! it was a double rainbow that was completely uninterrupted from start to finish. i’ve never seen anything like it. after the crappy past few days i’ve had, with wishing I could be home with my family as we said goodbye to our dog lily, it was an uplifting experience. as my new t shirt says- don’t worry, be hopi!

hey everyone! many of you know that UWP was planning on being in Mexico from May 4-June 8 in 5 different cities, including Monterrey, Veracruz, Mexico City, Santillo, and Puebla. Due to the health crisis, we will be cancelling our first two cities in Mexico, with Monterrey being rescheduled for later in the tour. We are not cancelling because we feel Mexico is an unsafe place, but there is no real way we could do our community service and show aspects of the program with those cities in their current situation. We are very sad to have to move parts of our trip around, but we fully intend on visiting those cities when the time is right!
So what will we be doing for those 2 weeks, you ask? The answer is– going to camp!!! We will be staying at Forest Come Camp, and we will also be working there! We will be helping to get the camp ready for the summer season and we couldn’t be more excited. I never thought all 90 of us would ever get the chance to all be staying in one place together, so this is an exciting chance for our cast to get very close.
We’ll know in a week or so how the rest of the Mexican tour will end up, as of now we will go to Mexico in about 3 weeks, so keep your fingers crossed that the swine flu gets resolved soon!

gotta love last minture changes in plans– i can’t wait to see where this goes!

ni hao everyone!  i just wrapped up 3 days working at E Touch elderly care facility, which has to be my favorite CI yet!  I was absent for the first day (slight touch of food poisoning, whoops) but on the second day I was welcomed with open arms into this loving community.  We went to the natural history museum and I was with a group of elderly Taiwanese people, looking at dinosaur replicas, artifacts, even an awkwardly large display ofhuman fertilization.  It is a bit hard to communicate since most of them don’t speak much english and we don’t speak much Chinese, but we manage! 

The next day we joined teh group in their warm up exercises and dances (which are awesome and I’m so happy I got a copy of the music we used!) and then it was the Up With People people’s turn to lead activities!  We taught then the sign language we use for One to One in the show, as well as how to say hello in 10 different languages, and we sang the Taiwanese folk song we know for them.  They really seemed to enjoy our games and songs, which was a great relief!  We also did some calligraphy, which is harder than it seems!  Getting brush strokes to be that precise is not easy, but I enjoyed trying.  THe people were very encouraging, I got lots of compliments, but then again, Taiwanese people are probably the most polite people you’ll ever meet, so who knows how good mine actually looked!

On our last day we spent themorning doing the regular warm ups then played an awesome game, that actually got quite competitive!!  We were sitting in chairs in two rows facing each other and we had soft-ish paper sticks (imagine a wrapping paper tube, but it doesn’t snap in two) and each side had to push the ball to their left and score a goal.  It was so much fun, I can’t even begin!  They got so into it, one man on my team may have cheated a little but I liked his spirit.  And when we played on a team against the elderly people, they won!! 

We didn’t just hang out all week, however!  There was a large yard behind E Touch that was overrun with tall grass, unwanted trees, and bushes, so we got all of it out of the ground, put in bales, and stacked up by teh gates.  One day it was pouring rain and we thought that was the worse condition to work in , but the next 2 days were sweltering and humid, and I think I’d prefer the downpour to that!  But in any weather, the bugs persist, and we all got eaten alive.  I think I have somewhere around 20-25 bites on me, it’s no fun!

We also pained a room in the building, it turned out really well and the room looks much happier and brighter now.  I think the people who worked at the facility really appreciated the work we did- I must agree, we did a pretty nice job!  We worked hard adn it showed, I’m very proud of the work we did at E Touch.  The most lasting impact we had is definitely with the elderly people themselves.  They are such amazing people, they all still live on their own or with family and just come to the facility for a few hours of exercise and fun each afternoon, so I hope we were able to make this week special for them.  I certainly learned a lot from them, I will not soon forget their spirited games or smiling faces.  I miss E Touch and everyone there already and it’s only been a few hours!!

July 2018
« Jun