First Week in Denver, CO

TUES 1/15/19 - SAT 1/19/19


Arrived at Boston Logan Int. Airport on Tuesday the 15th. Said goodbye to both my parents, made it through security & boarded my plane. I was off to a completely new place, to meet complete strangers, who would soon become the people I spent the next 6 months with.

When I arrived in Denver I was feeling so many different emotions. Happy, scared, excited, eager, terrified. I eventually made it to the shuttle which I took to meet Up With People staff & other cast members. I was greeted with hugs from staff & different questions about where I was from, why I decided on UWP, etc. I was overwhelmed - in the best way possible.

Sophie, Wisconsin

Sophie, Wisconsin

After shuttling to the church, meeting SO many new people, and hanging out, we were picked up by our host families. My host family is amazing!!!! My roommate is also the best. Maëlle is from Belgium and is one of the funniest, kindest people I’ve met. My host family was a Navy family - and have so many incredible stories about where they’ve lived and what they’ve experienced.

Day one was exhausting. Went right to bed so we were ready for official day one with UWP.


The next three days were a whirlwind. They FLEW by. People weren’t kidding when they said soak in every moment, it’ll go by fast. Our first couple of days were composed of “workshops,” where we learned all about Up With People, it’s mission, how to live with host families, etc.

We were then split into “home teams,” a smaller group of people that we will continue to spend a lot of time with over the next 6 months.

My module group!!

My module group!!

Thursday was “Modules” day!!! I had heard a little bit about this day & was honestly overwhelmed. I’ve auditioned for shows before, yet there was something so new about this. I anticipated this day & made myself even more worried. What should I expect?? What if I fail?? So many things were rushing through my head. But by Thursday night - I was asking myself why I was so scared. Modules was so much fun. We sang in groups, danced, took some photos, and talked on camera.

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday FLEW by. We began learning the show & I began learning from others.



Slept in. Woke up to jazz music from my host family, and spent the morning relaxing, reading, and playing with my host family’s two dogs: Stewart & Shin Yu.

We drove to Garden of the Gods, a park in Colorado Springs: home to some of the most beautiful red rock formations overlooking the mountains.

Maëlle, from Belgium

Maëlle, from Belgium

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Explored Manitou Springs, shopped downtown & learned all about the old “hippie town.”

Manitou Springs

Manitou Springs

We then drove some more to Helen Hunt Falls, and saw some of the most beautiful views.

Headed to dinner at one of our host family’s favorite places to eat: the Laughing Lab.

The Laughing Lab, CO

The Laughing Lab, CO

Had the most beautiful host family day in Colorado Springs, exploring and seeing some of the coolest places around Denver :)

Prodigy, Denver CO

Prodigy, Denver CO

Week #1 in Denver was such an amazing experience. I am feeling so lucky & so blessed. The people I’ve just met within these first few days have huge hearts & so much kindness to give. I am so thankful and looking forward to the coming week!!!



This past week, we’ve talked a lot about core values. What are our values? How do we practice these values? How can we push to live these values in our everyday lives?

On Tuesday 1/22, we split into small groups to discuss issues that face us in our own hometowns, as well as all around the world. Some examples of these groups were corruption, natural distasters, gun violence, women’s rights, racial equality, etc.

We talked about why these issues are pressing in our current day, and how we can educate others about them. We made lists of what we would choose to teach about each topic - what are some things we would want younger generations to know.

The group I was a part of focused on women’s rights. We talked about the #MeToo movement, the media and stigmas that surround women today, sexual assault, sex education, and personal stories about the topic.

Separating into these groups and learning about these topics in a little more depth was extremely interesting. Listening to others share why they believe sex ed is so important, why they believe certain stereotypes surround the female population, why they chose to be a part of this group , etc. was eye opening.

a year in review: google

After gathering in these groups & debriefing on what we discussed, we delved into values a little bit more. Google puts together short videos each year called “A Year in Review.” We watched each video from 2014 through 2018. Each video rehashed what people searched for each year.

Watching just how far we’ve come as a nation was inspiring. Watching and noticing repeating events was upsetting. However, in each video, hope & love were always mentioned. This was uplifting - knowing that so many people were still in search of that - even through some of the most difficult years. We discussed as a group, what we hope to see in Google’s 2019 video.

Some answers included:

  • Love and acceptance

  • Hope

  • Equality

  • Less fear

  • Unity

In one workshop, we were asked to define one of our core values. I chose open mindedness.

I defined open mindedness as:

The will to gain a new perspective; the will to walk in some else’s shoes. Living in harmony - not judging or making assumptions about other people, places, ideas or beliefs.

This workshop shed a new light on why we must live our values. I learned that not just believing in them or practicing them sometimes, is enough. If you care deeply about something, it is your job to live that every single day.



On Friday 1/25, we had our Leadership Roundtable event. Over 15 people from all different backgrounds, came to talk with us as a cast, about what it means to be a leader. This experience was incredible. Each leader had a completely different perspective on what leadership meant to them. Hearing from each person & learning about what they spend their lives doing was an amazing learning experience. I was able to talk with five of the people who joined us: Caryn, Amy, Brenton, Terry and Jeff. From UWP alumni, to young philosophy/history/performance majors, these people spanned a large area of leadership backgrounds. What made this event so captivating - was that each leader had something new to share. We were able to ask questions about what inspired them to be where they are today, why they decided to do what they do, how they motivate themselves on the daily, and (if an UWP alumni), what their experience with the program was like.


Jeff spoke with our group about the concept of going from good to great. He discussed with us three different groups of people: the dreamers, the planners and the do-ers. We as people, tend to fall into one group. We sometimes fall into more than one group, but never all three. This opened my eyes to becoming more of a planner and a do-er. Because like Jeff told us, a dream is just a dream until it’s acted upon.

The #1 thing that stuck with me in talking to these leaders, was something Brenton told our group: don’t wait for permission. I’ve thought about this since Friday. So many times throughout our lives we have new & interesting ideas, beliefs that we are passionate about and want to do something with. But so often, we are waiting for permission. Permission to move forward, permission to ask questions, permission to take a chance. The best ideas, inventions & creations came from those who didn’t wait for permission. This is something that will stick with me throughout my semester with Up With People, as well as throughout the rest of my life.

Values. This past week was full of new lessons, activities & experiences focused around values. Learning about just how prominent our values are in our day to day lives, and how we have a responsibility to live out these values, was a new and incredible experience that I am so grateful to have had.

week three

Week #3!!

a recap of the week:

monday — life in the fishbowl w bruce erley

Day one into week 3. Our morning started with a session led by Bruce Erley, an UWP alum, a current host dad, and CEO of Creative Strategies Group - a full sponsorship and event marketing agency. Bruce came to talk to us about “living in the fishbowl,” or in other words - the constant reminder that for six months, our group will be living in the public eye. He talked to us about the hazards of living in the fishbowl, and also the many positives that come along with it.

As a group, we discussed the pros and cons of social media, how we depend on it today, and how we can use it to impact & involve others around us. We talked about UWP’s need to operate & grow - and how all of this depends on the goodwill and support of others. How we use social media to

  • recruit students

  • find host families

  • fundraise

He asked the question: What does the news media think of us?

Living in the public eye as a part of Up With People is a tremendous responsibility, but also a beautiful privilege.

WEDNESDAY — cultural awareness & globe smart

The theme of the week for week 3 was Cultural Awareness. We discussed different stages of culture shock, how we are feeling 3 weeks in, and how culture shock can effect an individual - in both positive & negative ways.

Our second workshop of the day was working with Globe Smart. Globe Smart is a website that uses a series of questions in a survey to place your traits on a scale. After your profile is completed you are able to compare how your personal traits or roles compare to those of your own country or others. Before we travel to a new country, we will be able to see how our own profiles compare to that specific country - how we might interact with others, etc.

My GlobeSmart profile

My GlobeSmart profile

friday — SDG’s, CA, CULTURE FAIR

Friday!!!! Today was incredible. Eye opening, exciting, BUSY, and so much fun. This morning we split into groups to discuss different sustainable development goals. We were asked to pick one group to be a part of. My group discussed quality education, and why we believe this goal is the most important. We focused on the growth and personal learning of education - and how learning outside of the classroom can be just as vital and important a part of education as in-school learning. Without quality education, many of the SDG’s are not accomplishable.


Our second workshop of the day focused on the four types of CA we will do.

• educational

• social

• manual labor

• performance arts (PA)

Why do we do CA? We talked as a group about the different reasons community action is such a huge part of Up With People as a whole. Many different things were shared. We do community action to practice what we preach. Up With People’s mission and core values are set in empowering youth to be positive agents of change. If we are so set on accomplishing this - we must also be a factor in taking action. Another reason UWP focuses on CA is for the same reason we stay with host families. We have a direct eye into the community, a direct experience with the culture and people we are surrounded by.

What is social impact? Social impact is a significant, positive change that addresses an urgent, social challenge in a proven area of need. Social impact focuses on the root cause of an issue.



  • to increase understanding, respect & tolerance

  • foster communities of action

  • empower youth as positive agents of change

  • build an international network of global citizens

•••••••••••••••••••••••CULTURE FAIR•••••••••••••••••••••••

Our first culture fair was Friday night at 6:30. Host families and others were invited to come and walk around to each booth, play games, interact with our cast & learn more about where we come from. The culture fair was one of my favorite things we’ve done so far. Kaede taught me how to write my own name in Japanese, I learned “stick games” from Jolene from the Navajo Nation, and I listened to the Mexico booth sing :)


During the culture fair, we were able to interact with host families and learn about why they host Up With People, as well as answer questions about where we’re from and why we’re here. I felt an extreme sense of purpose that night.


It was such an incredible experience being able to learn so many new things about where my cast mates come from & all about their cultures. Even learning about other areas of my own country was a new and interesting thing to experience.

I’m looking forward to our next culture fairs on tour!!

saturday — host family wknd 3

Saturday & Sunday off this week!

Today we drove to the top of Lookout Mountain to go to the Buffalo Bill gravesite and museum. Maëlle and I learned a lot about Buffalo Bill and the Wild West - I was never aware he was such a huge icon in communities out here!!


After driving up to Lookout, we explored Golden, CO. Historic downtown was absolutely beautiful. In and around Denver is FULL of little towns with shops and restaurants so there seems to always be something new and exciting going on. We went to eat and walked around, and learned all about historic Golden. My host family is amazing!!! They are so proud of where they live - and they get to share all of this with us!! How lucky am I?

Maëlle, Mark & Sharon

Maëlle, Mark & Sharon

SUNDAY — superbowl liii

Super bowl Sunday!!!


“Gearing up for Super Bowl LIII!! 🏈

Up with People's first appearance in the Super Bowl Halftime show paved the way for future entertainers at Super Bowl X in 1976. As the first non-marching band to perform at the 50 yard line, Up with People's legacy carries on with performers following suit for 46 years by being the first to use an on-field stage.

Our cast has recently learned about the legacy of Up with People and wanted to represent some of their favorite NFL teams. Bet you can guess which team they are rooting for.

Who do you want to win at this year's Super Bowl?

Want to know more about Up with People's historical performances?

Get the facts ➡️

Watch UWP at the Super Bowl ➡️