August 10, 2009

Last week in Denver!

Hey all.
I am the worst blogger in the history of blogs. To my credit, we've been really busy in the past few weeks, but I know that's no excuse. Sorry! This is going to be a fairly short entry I think, but hopefully in my new home I'll have more time to update this. Also, hopefully I'll be able to put pictures up soon too.

This is our last week in Denver. It feels so weird!! I feel so at home here! I love my host family and the other host families on my street. Last night, we all got together for the second annual Culture Cook Night where we all made food from our cultures or family's or both. I made a trout dish. I got to try lots of great things like REAL Swedish meatballs and Lingonberry jam, Bratkartoffeln, grilled corn, Omaha steak, and lots of other tasty dishes! It was really fun to hang out for our last neighbourhood night together. As much as I'll miss Broomfield, I'm really excited to get on the road!

We've been really busy in the past few weeks getting ready for our show. We've had tons and tons of rehearsals and run throughs. Our first show is TOMORROW! I'm so excited! We moved into the Pinnacle Events Center today, which is our first theatre. It was really cool to rehearse it on our real stage!! I can't wait for tomorrow. I love the show so much and our cast has done an amazing job so far!

This weekend we got to have our first two Community Impact (CI) days! CI is a very important part of UWP and we were all really excited to start. On Friday, we went to the Food Bank of the Rockies where we packed boxes of suplimentary food for low income families. We packed over 1000 boxes which is great. On Saturday we were at a woman's transitional home where we volunteered with the women and children who live there. We did a lot of work! It's amazing how much work 80 people can do. We cleaned pretty much every room, painted inside and outside, build a playground, fixed up a children's play area/nursery that had been closed for 4 years, planted flowers, fixed computers, and played with the cutest kids! It was a really great day that I won't soon forget.

I am off to bed. We've got a really busy day tomorrow with our first show, so I need to get some sleep! Talk to you soon!!

July 29, 2009


Hey again! I have some time tonight, so I'm going to try to get caught up on this week! Scott is listening to music and Kyle is practicing his dancing in the living room, so it's the perfect time for me to blog! I'm just going to start from where I left off last time.

Friday 24: This morning, we had our Jai Ho dance work shopped by a really great Bollywood dancer. It was so cool to have her teach us and we polished our routine a bit more. I still can't believe we have our first show in just couple of weeks! We had singing (mic group plus cast vocals) from before lunch until the end of the day (5:15) so it was a long day of singing! Tonight our host parents took Kyle, Scott, and I to a Rockies game. (That's baseball for those of you like me who didn't know.) The game was really fun! Our team lost, but I had fun singing "Take me out to the ballgame"!! I was SO tired tonight, I fell asleep in the car ride home!

Saturday 25: We had today off!! Our host parents went to a wedding today, but before they left they dropped us off at the bus station. We took the bus to Boulder, Colorado where we shopped on the beautiful Pearl street. I had delicious pizza and bought some interesting chocolate (dark chocolate with Goji berries and sea salt = interesting!!). Kyle bought a fun board game/card game called Curses and we had fun playing it with Cecilia, Ronja, Tinna, and Bernward. We laughed so hard!!

Sunday 26: Today was a great day!! Kyle, Cecilia, Ronja, Tinna, and Berward went white water rafting today!!! Can you believe it?! I had so much fun (once I got over being scared)! The rapids were levels 2-4 so we had a variation in difficulty. It was challenging, but I felt so proud of myself once it was over! We went out to a restaurant for dinner. I had been wanting chicken fingers all week for some reason so I finally got to have them!! We went over to Tinna's to go in their hot tub. All in all, it was a great day!

Monday 27: Today was quite the day. This morning we had a session about culture shock. We learned about the four stages of culture shock: the honeymoon stage, crisis/confrontation, adjustment, and adaptation. We tied a small piece of yarn to a large U shaped rope to track the overall culture shock level of the cast. It was very interesting to see that everyone was at a different place. We're all adjusting in our own time. After break, we all gathered in our 2's (business casual) in the auditorium for our cast photo!! I'm really excited to see this (plus the funny picture!). We had another fun, yet challenging mic group workshop. I found out that I'll be doing one or two of the poem/speeches for the show in at least the USA part of the tour. I'm really excited for this because the poems are so powerful and I want to be able to share their message. Then we had probably the most intense moment of our entire staging process. We had a session on diversity called "Crossing the Line". A line was drawn in tape across the floor of the auditorium and JC would say a statement. If we identified with the statement, we were to cross the line to the other side. We were encouraged to explain our choices and ask questions. The statements started easy: Cross the line if you like chocolate. Cross the line if you are an only child. They got a lot deeper with Cross the line if you identidy yourself as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Cross the line if you believe in a god or gods. Cross the line if you consider yourself physically attractive. There were lots of other statements in between. There is so much diversity in our cast. It's incredible to see how we are so different, yet so much the same. I can't describe the feeling in the room, but it was truly moving.

Tuesday 28: This morning we wore our 2's again because UWP alumni came to talk to us and hold smaller sessions with us about their UWP experiences and how they apply what they learned when they travelled to their lives today. It was really informative and made me get even more excited for the rest of our semester!! We made a cast newspaper today with a page for each continent, news back home, pop culture, sports, and 'good news'. We had lots of rehearsing today too. We had UWP neighbourhood dinner at our house. It was really fun. I get to practice my German and Swedish which is sweet!

I should write about today, but, like last week, I just want to go to bed! I'll blog again soon! Enjoy and I'll talk to you again soon!


July 25, 2009

Week two

Week two is complete! We've got 20 more weeks to go! I can't believe it!! Here's my week run down for you!

Monday 20th: Today we had an education session about leadership and what it means to be a global leader. It was really interesting to learn about how different countries viewed leadership. Lots of similarities, but lots of differences too. We made a collage of images that remind us of leadership as well as brainstorming words that make a leader. We had a few other discussions about leadership in a number of different group settings. It was really cool. We went into our home groups and we were lead around the building with blindfolds on. It was a bit scary, but I trusted my group!! We did more blocking for the show. It gets a bit tedious, but it's a necessary part of staging. The boys and I went on a walk tonight and almost got caught in a storm, but we made it home!

Tuesday 21st: We learned two new songs today: Shoshaloza and Keep the Beat. They are really cool songs! We spent some time learning about UWP admissions (which is an internship position). UWP is something I feel passionate about, so it was cool to talk a bit about what the program stands for and it's history. Then came a really fun part of the day! We all went into the cafeteria and entered Las "B"egas complete with "B"egas show girls (Gabe, Matt, and Paul haha), Elvis impersonator, dancers, dealers, security, and tables with cards and chips. Of course, with UWP it wasn't just an ordinary card game. Each table had a list of rules and instructions that the winner and loser of each round would move up or down a table, respectively. Another very important rule was that we could not communicate in any way, shape, or form including most sign language/body language. Little did we know that all the tables had different rules, so when people moved to different tables, there was confusion, frustration, and lots of laughter. We talked about it afterwards and applied it to our UWP experience. Each host family and each different culture we are a part of will have different 'rules' and traditions and we might not know everything about them, but we have to learn how to adapt and accept these new 'rules' with patiece and understanding. It also shed some light on how it might feel to not be able to speak the same language as our host families. It was a really cool session. We had another neighbourhood dinner of delisious Mexican food, lots of laughing and jokes, and an all around good time.

Wednesday 22nd: Today was a really good day! It started with a round table session on leadership. We wore our 2's (which means like business casual) for the first time. A bunch of local non profit workers and leaders came to talk to us in small groups about how they use leadership in their lives. It was really inspiring. We had another session about more UWP rules/guidelines while we're traveling. It was pretty common knowledge, but it has to be done. Tonight was the Culture Jam! Around 40 people from our cast performed songs, skits, and dances from their countries, states, and cultures. It was so fun!! Aude, Sheena, and I performed "Thomas' Snowsuit" by Robert Munsch to a recording of Munsch reading it. It was reeeeeally fun/funny! People kept coming up to us saying "NNNNNNNNOOOO". It was hilarious. What a great day!

Thursday 23rd: This morning we had blocking again. Our first run is in less than two weeks!! We had our first regional learning in downtown Denver. We had a scavenger hunt (that my team won!) around the city which ended at the Environmental Protection Agency (which is in a really cool building that is almost 100% local and recycled materials, and lots of different 'green' features like a garden roof, open window panels for natural lighting/temperature control, and lots of other things. It was really cool). Today I found out that I'll be a part of the mic group singers/background singers for the show which is sweet! We learned a lot of new songs today. I can't remember if I wrote this before, but our singing instructor's son is the lead guitarist of the Fray which is really cool. Their current basist is an UWP alumnus. We had a delicious neighbourhood dinner again tonight and played frisbee in the golf course behind. Tinna and Sofie taught me some Swedish today!! I'm practically fluent haha. Laget? Bra!

I know I have a few days to go, but some friends are here to play a game and go hot tubbing!

July 20, 2009

My first month with UWP...wait...first week.

Hey everyone!!

SORRY that I haven't written in such a long time! I'm so busy that when I have a speck of free time, I spend it journaling, eating, and sleeping. I'll try my best to tell you about this week and I'll try my very best to write more regularly from now on! This is going to be reeeeeeeeeally long. You can take your time reading it! I won't let it get this long again! Enjoy!

As you can see in the title of this blog, it feels like I've been here for a month, not a week. So much has happened! I can't even imagine what 6 months will feel like! Now, where did I leave off?!

Monday: This was our first day of staging. Some of the Uppies in my neighbourhood and I rode in the Disco Van to the Sherman Centre for a fun filled, yet busy, day! We spent a good part of the day getting to know each other by playing fun games and talking in smaller groups. There are around 70 students from 17 different countries, which is amazing! We learned about different levels of comfort. I'm going to try really hard to stay in the 'challenge zone' throughout the course of the trip so I can get the most out of UWP. We started singing today!! I'm so excited about this part of UWP! The songs are so inspiring and powerful. It's such an honour to sing them. We had a hot tub party tonight at our house with friends from the neighbourhood!

Tuesday: Today we had modules, which are basically auditions for the show. We had 5 different modules: Technical, Costume, Dancing, Singing, and Speaking. It was nerve wracking (especially dance!), but really fun! Met lots of new people today and got even closer with people I had already met.

Wednesday: Today we learned about our Mexico tour! I'm soooo excited for that! We also spent a while learning about different cultures and differences between our cultures. This is especially relavent to UWP because there are so many cultures represented and because of the traveling we'll soon be doing! We have intense cast fitness/movement everyday. Today we did a thing called Zumba which is like aerobics/dance done to Latin music. It was so fun, but really challenging! We spent time thinking about our long term and short term goals. It's really important to make goals for the semester and try our very best to keep them! We staged three songs today too. Oh! Tonight Ronja (who I've been speaking German with) said my German was good! I was so pleased!

Thursday: We sang a lot today! We learned six songs. I'm really happy to be singing so much! I missed singing in choirs, so it has been great to be singing everyday. Funny sidenote: "The Sound of Peace" UWP recording was sung by Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid. Pretty cool! More dancing today. We're dancing to "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire! It's soooo cool! I love it so much and my dancing is getting a lot better! We did Pilates today too. I swear we'll be so fit by the end of this! We made S'mores tonight at Tinna's (from Sweden!) host family's house!

Friday: We learned a new song (plus choreography) today - "Shine the Light". We learned about internships and advanced work. I am hoping to do an internship or two over the course of the tour. There are lots of options, but I'm most interested in the Show Manager internship and the singing internship. More INTENSE fitness today - push ups were included at one point. Then we roughly blocked the entire show! We have under a month until our first performance, so we've been really busy! We had a UWP BBQ block party tonight. I think we're going to a Rockies (baseball) game next week. Hahhaha Kyle and I know so much about baseball, but Scott's super excited!

Saturday: TGIS. This is the last day of the UWP week and boy what a week it was! We had a session about barcodes, aka stereotypes, today. The ballroom had big sheets of paper all around the room - one for each country. We all walked around and wrote something about each country. It was really interested to see what people thought. Then we presented our thoughts and impressions about what the group wrote. It was really interesting. Some for Canada were Eh, Mounties, Proud, Polite, United States Jr (ouch) and lots of others - good and bad. It was a really interesting and intense session and I'm really glad we did it. Then we shared statements that were "I am ___, but I am not ___". It was cool. Then came one of the best parts of the week. Our staff performed our entire show for us (with the help of archive videos). I had goosebumps for the whole performance! It's such a beautiful, inspiring, powerful show. I can't wait to be up on that stage!! We met in smaller home teams today to discuss the week. Another hot tub party tonight!

Sunday: Today was our day off. We slept in and went on a 45 minute run (well, my good friend Cecilia from Virginia and I mostly just walked). Then our host family took us to the beautiful El Dorado Springs where we went swimming and had a picnic. We went to Cecilia and Ronja's and watched the UWP show from 1993! It was hilarious to see the show, hair, and costumes, but it was really great!

I know I should write today's entry as well, but I'm too tired to write it tonight! I'll include it with my next blog, which will hopefully be soon. Love you and miss you!!

July 14, 2009

Just loving it!

Hey everyone!

I'm sorry for not blogging the past few days! It's hard to find time to write these, but I'm still here in UWP and loving every minute!

I have lots to catch you up on and I'm not quite sure where to start!

Right after I posted my last blog, my roommates and I went over to a neighbourhood house where some of our new friends are staying. There are staff and students there, as well has fantastic parents! We hung out around the fire and then headed in for an epic pool game! I was sure I would be TERRIBLE, so I warned them about it, but it turns out none of us were very good. The game lasted almost an hour, but it was hilarious! It was so much fun!

On Sunday, we met our host dad John! It's great to have our host family all together! We had a fun afternoon that started with a trip to Target. The three of us went on a walk around the neighbourhood which turned into a race. Scott ended up falling mid run, which was really funny (he wasn't hurt...too badly...haha). We then left for our orientation! Our road staff performed some songs from our show and I swear it was all I could do to keep from crying! I had goose bumps! We had time to hang out for a while afterwords, which was fun because I love everyone here! We then went back to our neighbourhood Kibbutz. There I got to know my UWP neighbour friends so much better! On my street are Michael from Arizona, Breton from Nebraska, Celilia from Virginia, Ronja from Germany and Tinna from Sweden, plus me, Scott, and Kyle! This is my main street crew, but I also met Kelsey from Colorado and Caroline from Sweden. Everyone is amazing!! I love that I live on a street with so many friends!

I'm sorry that I'm not posting about yesterday and today, but I have to write my journal and get ready for another busy day of staging tomorrow

Thanks for reading this and I'll talk to you soon I hope!!

July 11, 2009

Up, up with people, you meet them wherever you go!

Up, up with people, they're the best kind of folks you know!

Today is day two of Up With People!
Yesterday was day one (my roommate Kyle told me to put that)! It was an incredible day! After I found the area where UWP was going to meet us, I found my first UWP friend!! Michelle from California! Then we noticed a big group of cast members so we ran up to meet them too! Lots and lots of people from all over! More and more people joined us as we got even more excited until finally we saw an UWP sign and our lovely staff members! We were bussed to the rec centre where we all got to know each other for like 7 hours while all the other cast members arrived in Denver and were bussed to join us! I can't even describe this! I met like 90 people from all over the world. Honestly, name a country and they were probably there! We talked, ate, went outside (for a grand total of like 5 minutes - it was HOT outside), laughed, laughed, laughed, and had a fantastic time! I can't believe I only met these people yesterday! It felt like I knew some of them for years!! As soon as I met the first people, the nerves were long gone and it was only excitement for the rest of the day!

At around 830, our host families came to pick us up. The cool thing about meeting our host families is that there is a theme and we each have a word that we use to find out families. My word was "unicyle". My roommates are Kyle (from Aberdeen, South Dakota - STORY BOOK LAND!) and Scott (Chino Valley, Arizona). We are staying with Beth and John and Duke the dog, but we don't meet John until tomorrow morning. The house is beautiful! Since I'm the only girl, I have my own room, bathroom, and get this - a sleep number bed. Hahaha. Amazing. Last night my number was 60, but tonight..well, the sky's the limit (actually 100 is the limit, but you know). We had cake, ice cream, and strawberries when we got back so obviously I'm not complaining at all! It's so great to hang out and talk with these guys (my new brothers) and get to know more about them and their cities. It's really fun.

Today we had the day off, which is really nice of them because we're all tired. Beth took us to the grocery store and Kohl's (because Scott's suitcase is ALREADY broken!), and then up the Flat Irons, which are foothills in Boulder). We were up like 7000 feet. It was so beautiful. We had a really great time. There was a photoshoot that I have yet to upload, but they will come soon! It was a great day!! Then we had a delicious dinner of barbequed chicken, corn on the cob, and a great salad. Kyle and I had fun washing dishes. We're currently playing cards and relaxing before our first UWP day tomorrow. I should go and get back to the cards, but you'll hear from me again soon!


July 10, 2009

And so it begins!

As I write this, I'm sitting in the Denver airport, using their brilliant free internet (aka gift from the gods)!!! I've got another two hours to wait until I meet up with the Up With People people who will take me away to start my adventure!! I am anxiously looking around wondering if I'll spot anyone with lots of stuff and excited/nervous looks on their faces.

I absolutely cannot believe that I'm sitting here now waiting for this trip to start! Well! I guess actually it has already started! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Ah! It won't be real until I start meeting everyone in a couple of hours.

I want to thank everyone who helped me on my journey here. All the people who helped out at my fundraisers, who helped me figure out packing, and who listen to me talk (and talk and talk) about UWP! Thank you so much! I love you all and I hope you read my blog!!

July 3, 2009

One week!

Hi everyone!

This time next week I'll be in the Denver airport waiting for UWP people to come pick me up! Can you believe it? I really can't! I've been counting down for so long and it's finally almost here. It's quite surreal.

We've been given a new tour schedule. It looks pretty incredible!

United States Dates
Denver, CO (Orientation & Staging) 10 July – 9 August
Thornton, CO 10 August – 12 August
-Show @ Pinnacle Events Center - Aug. 12th – 7pm
Aspen/Snowmass, CO 13 August – 16 August
-Show @ Snowmass Village Stage - Aug. 15th - 7pm
Durango, CO 17 August – 21 August
-Show @ Community Concert Hall, Fort Lewis College - Aug. 20 & 21 - Time TBD
Prescott, AZ 22 August - 24 August
-Show @ location TBD - Aug. 24th - Time TBD
Lake Havasu City, AZ 25 August – 30 August
-Show(s) @ High School Performing Arts Center - [Show Date(s) TBD]

Mexico Dates
Leon 31 August – 6 September
Querétaro 7 September – 13 September
Veracruz 14 September – 20 September
Puebla 21 September – 27 September
Mexico City 28 September – 5 October

Europe Dates
Luleå, Sweden (Private show) 6 October – 9 October
Stockholm, Sweden (Private show) 10 October – 14 October
Sundsvall, Sweden (Private show) 15 October – 19 October
Vänersborg, Sweden (Private show) 20 October – 23 October
Cottbus, Germany (Private show) 24 October – 29 October
Warsaw, Poland (Private show) 30 October – 3 November
Zabrze, Poland (Private show) 4 November – 8 November
The Netherlands (Private show) 9 November – 13 November
Berlin, Germany (Private show) 14 November – 19 November
Hamburg, Germany (Private show) 20 November – 24 November
Odense, Denmark (Private show) 25 November – 27 November
Varberg, Sweden (Private show) 28 November – 3 December
Uppsala, Sweden (Private show) 4 December – 7 December
Tampere, Finland (Private show) 8 December – 11 December
(City TBD) Sweden 12 December – 15 December

I have a million things to do before next Friday, so I must be off!!

June 21, 2009

Up With People - A Community Cookbook

Hi everyone,

I finally finished the fundraiser cookbook that I started a few months ago. It is full of delicious recipes from so many of my friends and family.

This cookbook is important because the proceeds I raise in selling it are helping me to participate in a program called Up With People. UWP allows me to travel around the world – the United States, Mexico, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe – while contributing my time to the communities we visit, and performing in a show that links theatre with social and global change. As well, I will be traveling with students from all over the world and have the incredible opportunity to represent Canada. It will certainly be an amazing experience.

If you go to the link found below, you'll be able to purchase the book directly from the website. There are two methods of purchasing the cookbook. You can either have it shipped directly to your home - The book costs $17.00 and shipping is around $10.00, so the overall cost is around $27.00. The other method is to download a copy of the book. This costs $23.00 in total. While this might seem like a lot, the proceeds, other than the cost of manufacturing, go towards my Up With People tuition.

If you have any questions, or if you want to hear more about my trip, please feel free to ask me!

Thank you so much,

June 15, 2009

The countdown continues.

I think it's at 25 days now. Something like that. 25 days until I become a 'Global Citizen' while I travel with UWP.

I've been dreaming of this day for so long. I first learned about Up With People when I was 10 years old. They came through Regina and my family hosted two girls for a week. I remember being so excited about UWP. I learned the songs and when I saw the show, I knew I would one day be up there too. I remember looking UWP up on the Internet and reading all about it. When I found out it was for 6 months, I never thought I could do it! Now, I can hardly wait to be traveling for 6 months. I guess some things have changed since then.

The next time I thought about UWP - I mean really thought about it - was when I was in Grade 12, two years ago. I didn't quite know what I would be doing after I graduated. I applied and auditioned for theatre schools, but my mind kept going back to UWP. I applied, had an interview, and was accepted for the July 2007 tour. Then I found out I was accepted into York University for theatre - an offer that I couldn't refuse - and I had to tell UWP that I couldn't travel that year. Luckily, they said I still had a chance, when I was ready.

This leads me to December of this past year. The infamous strike at York. I knew I was in need of a change for next year. I needed to do something for me. To learn something that couldn't be taught at York, let alone any University. It was something I would learn on a global campus. I immediately emailed UWP and was accepted into the program once more. That decision has sent me on a whirlwind of fundraising, planning, packing, and dreaming about my trip.

Now, it's all I can think about. My Facebook is now filled with my new cast mates. It's so exciting to be able to talk to the people who will soon be my family. It's been 10 years now and I still cannot wait patiently enough for July 10th! While I still have lots to do, the countdown will keep going. Tomorrow will be 24 days!