What a difference a week can make. At the start of last week, the Up with People Advance Team and sponsors were desperately scouring Lee County in search of families willing to host some 50 members of Up with People's 2013 Cast A. The week ended not only with homes for every international student, but a back-up list as well.
"The response this week has been incredible," Advance Team member Jolien Roelandt acknowledged on Friday evening, as she milled through the Alliance for the Arts' main gallery taking in the Art of the Book exhibition. "People keep calling in, asking to host a student," she smiled broadly. "We have a pretty long back up list in case of any last minute cancellations."
For the families that have arranged to host an Up with People cast member, it's a wonderful opportunity to bring a bit of the world into their own homes between February 11 and 18, when an international cast of Up with People arrives to Fort Myers, a stop on their 2013 world tour.
“It is a great opportunity to experience other cultures while sharing your own,” explained Lorna Murphy.
The opportunity to stay with local families during their stay in each community is a centerpiece of Up with People’s 22-week program. The giving goes both ways; while families share their traditions and local attractions, the cast members also share their experiences and cultures.
Local host families provide a bed, local transportation at the beginning and end of each day, as well as breakfast and most dinners. While gone during the day participating in regional learning, community service and show preparation, most evenings cast members will be home with the family to participate in their activities and interests.
In addition to many wonderful experiences with their new “son” or “daughter,” each host family receives two complimentary tickets to the Up with People’s newest production, Voices, which is themed around the power and the irony of communication in today’s global climate. The aim is to leave the audience feeling empowered to connect, communicate and create positive change in their communities; to '...rise above the noises, and listen to the voices of the world.'
The show will be held at the North Fort Myers High School on Sunday, February 17 at 2:00 and 6:00 p.m.
“I can honestly say that the dozens of families who have opened their homes to me during my time in Up with People is one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences I have had,” said Advance Team member Lorna Murphy. “I still stay in contact with many of them, and I believe they will remain lifelong friends,” she added.
Those with smaller children or young teens in their home often find that the Up with People cast members are wonderful role models and provide a glimpse into other countries, cultures and traditions they might not often experience in Fort Myers, Murphy added.
Up with People is continuously seeking young leaders who are ready for this unique and life-changing experience. To learn how you or someone you know can travel the world, earn college credits and make a difference in Up with People, please visit www.upwithpeople.org or call 303-460-7100.
CLK Festivities, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, and Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) are the sponsors for Up with People’s impending visit. The proceeds from the shows will be donated to three local beneficiaries: Harry Chapin Food Bank; Lee County Alliance for the Arts; and Edison Festival of Light.
The media sponsors for the event are Renda Broadcasting, Waterman Broadcasting, and the News-Press Media Group.