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Performers offer more than just their act

VISTA — Up With People’s mission is simple: Travel. Perform. Impact.
Since 1965, the nonprofit group has been doing just that with the help of thousands of international volunteers. Through its global effort to connect communities, Up With People, or UWP, is on a mission to prove that people can make a difference.
“We’re helping build global bridges of understanding and inspiring people to take action in their own community,” said Shelsea Ochoa, a UWP representative.
UWP brings an international cast of young adults (aged 17 to 29) together for an unparalleled educational experience. Representing more than 20 different countries, the cast circles the globe for six months to participate in community service projects, learn about different cultures and perform an international showcase, Ochoa said.
“It’s all these once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” Ochoa said. “You don’t sleep a lot — it’s a very intense six months.”
For the most culturally immersive experience, the cast members stay with host families in each country they visit. This opportunity allows students to live as the families do and get a firsthand look at the local culture through food, transportation and other experiences, Ochoa said.
“You get into a new city and your host family says, ‘We’re going to a karaoke bar,’” Ochoa said. “It’s really cool.”
While the cast enjoys an amazing experience traveling the world and learning from local families, they also fulfill a commitment to make a positive impact in each community. The students give back to their generous hosts through a wide variety of service projects, like mentoring children and serving at shelters.
“It’s a really impeccable experience for the people that travel with Up With People, the people we give to and the people we do community service for,” Ochoa said.
The culmination of each week’s stay is a highly anticipated performance in the community, Ochoa said. The cast puts on a two-hour world tour that incorporates international song and dance, as well as cast originals. A live band, solo vocalists and harmony singers round out the performance that shares UWP’s central message.
“If one person stands up and tries to do something positive for the world, and it inspires one person to do the same, it does make a difference,” she said.
Although the travel and culture shock can be overwhelming, UWP cast members have proven to be dedicated to making a difference around the world. The opportunity to learn about different cultures and create lifelong friends is cherished long after the six-month tour is over, Ochoa said.
“I’ve never met anyone who has said that being with Up With People didn’t change their lives,” Ochoa said.
UWP’s current cast will soon be arriving in North County to do a service project and further share the program’s message. Catch the performance at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre on April 30. Tickets can be purchased at www.vistixonline.com.

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