Performing with a purpose

For music-focused organization Up with People, there is only one way to stay positive.

Music.

Ninety students from 20 different countries travel with Up with People across the globe to promote education, service and music.

Comprising students from high school to graduate school, the 2010 cast of Up with People is heading to D.C. this week to share music from different cultures.

Arriving Thursday, the group will stay with host families and participate in community service for the next 10 days.

“The fact that we go into different communities and we’re only there for a couple of days, the group can show that community how much they can do,” said Sarah Lundgren, a GW Class of 2009 graduate and an admissions representative for Up with People.

The cast will be volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank for Make a Difference Day Oct. 23 as well as participating in beautification projects at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, National Children’s Center and other areas around the city.

In addition to the community service it provides at each location on the tour, the organization also provides a local children’s choir the opportunity to shine. The American Youth Chorus will perform alongside the Up with People cast in the District later this month.

Up with People also teaches students how to put on a performance from the ground up. They learn about lights, sound and stage-managing, and they don’t need any prior knowledge before joining the tour.

“Usually about 50 to 60 percent of the people that come in have no performance experience whatsoever,” Lundgren said.

But it’s not only the opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes or how to positively impact a community that makes Up with People so unique. Throughout the tour, every cast member is given the exact same opportunity to be a star.

To Lundgren, whose parents met while traveling with the organization, “Music is a universal language.”

For Up with People, music drives the positive impact the cast has on each location, proving positive relationships can transcend an individual’s country, ethnicity or language.

“It’s a really good opportunity to learn about themselves and how they interact with people from different cultures, and just to gain that global understanding and awareness,” Chelsey Panchot, a promotions representative for the group, said. “That not everybody is the same and it’s okay.”

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