On February 11, 120 members from Up with People’s 2013 Cast A will arrive in Fort Myers. About half still need a place to stay during the week they’re in town volunteering at various service organizations and getting ready for their two performance at North Fort Myers High School on February 17.
Host families are asked to simply provide a bed, breakfast, most dinners, and transportation to and from the Alliance for the Arts or other staging area in the morning and evening. The cast members are gone during the day participating in regional learning, community service and show preparation, but they spend evenings at home with their host families, learning about our customs and culture and sharing their own.
The cast includes singers from 20 different countries who range in age from 18-27.
While the benefits of hosting a cast member may seem obvious, here are ___ reasons why you should open your home to one of the Up with People cast members:
1. Many of the cast members come from other countries. “Hosting is a terrific way to learn about another country without jet lag, culture shock or spending a fortune,” suggests Up with People Advance Team member Jolien Roelandt, who hails from Belgium.
2. “Cast members aren’t just guests,” observes Up with People Advance Team and former cast member Lorna Murphy, who calls Dublin home. “We’re part of your family for the week we spend with you, and we remain part of your family long after we leave. Every family I have stayed with has left an individual stamp on my heart. I have been invited to weddings and birthdays as well as family reunions! I really do have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents all over the world. My mam even got a phone call from one of my host families in Belgium to wish them a happy new year – we are all just that close in such a short time.”
3. “Because cast members become part of your extended family, they’re eager to have you visit them in their country of origin,” adds Advance Team member Isabel Belliard. “Just like you’ll show them things about Fort Myers they’d never see otherwise, they’ll show you things when you visit their town or country that you’d never see as just a tourist.”
4. And when you host a cast member, you not only learn about their country and culture, you’ll hear about the countries and cultures they’ve visited along the way. “This is the first time I’ve visited the United States,” says Jolien, “but I’ve lived in Brazil six months and the Congo for a month. Both places have left a lasting impression on me.”
5. 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, Lorna adds.
6. Up with People is now accredited, so many of the cast members are college students who are earning credits in the humanities and intercultural communication. Their educational experiences can also inspire children and teens who are themselves considering furthering their education after high school.
7. Cast members give their hosts a unique opportunity to see their own town and culture through fresh eyes. “Belgium is very small and we bike everywhere,” says Jolien. “We were in Lakeland a couple of weeks ago, and I just assumed we bike to Fort Myers,” much to the amusement of both Isabel and Lorna. “I couldn’t get over how wide open the space is between Lakeland and Fort Myers. There’s no place in Belgium where you can drive for 15 or 20 minutes without seeing a home or anything else.”
8. As your cast member will be volunteering at either the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Quality Life Center, CCMI, Children’s Network or HOPE Clubhouse, you share vicariously in the all the good that they do. And you can learn about the important work that these charitable organizations do in the community from your guest as you sit around the dinner table and listen to the stories they share about their activities that day.
9. Hosting also provides you with an unparalleled opportunity to share the Up with People experience. Before they set foot in your home, cast members are interviewed by Up with People, go through the process of raising the funds they need for their tuition, and spend four weeks learning the songs, dances and staging of the performances they put on at the end of their week in town. Their experiences become your experiences, and you get to see it all materialize on stage live as host families receive two complimentary tickets to Up with People’s newest production, Voices, which is themed around the power and the irony of communication in today’s global climate.
10. Hosting makes you an Up with People alumni. Your participation opens doors with the thousands of Up with People sponsors and beneficiaries around the world. Local sponsors include CLK Festivities, LCEC, Galloway Ford, and Broadway Palm Theatre. Media sponsors for the event are Renda Broadcasting, Waterman Broadcasting, and the News-Press Media Group.
In the final analysis, hosting is both fun and rewarding on many different planes. Local families in the Fort Myers who are interested in hosting an Up with People cast member between February 11-18 are encouraged to contact Lorna Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 303-681-1295.
Up with People is an independent nonprofit, [501(c)(3)] organization without any religious or political affiliations. It provides young adults an international and intercultural experience that teaches service leadership and uses the performing arts to deliver messages of hope and goodwill throughout the world. The organization was founded in the early sixties by J. Blanton Belk at the behest of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and during its height, performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush as well as during halftime at four Super Bowls (1976, 1980, 1982 and 1986). The organization disbanded in 2000, but re-opened in 2005, and has since resumed performing around the world with a newfound emphasis on community service.
Up with People exists today to spark people to action in meeting the needs of their communities, countries and the world while building bridges of understanding as a foundation for world peace. For more information visit www.upwithpeople.org.