“You just got
chocolate from someone in Denmark!” said Lauran Ross’ surprised
mother. The gift was no surprise for Ross, an Up with People
Ross is a graduate of UWP’s global leadership program and
has traveled through many parts of Europe and Thailand gaining
new friends, exciting stories, and pictures on the way. Now Ross
is sharing her experience with students at HPU, while working
to bring more UWP students to school and more HPU students to
The UWP program, according to its literature, gives students
the opportunity to travel around the world, stay with local host
families, get exposure to different cultures, and be of service
to different communities through outreach projects and performances.
The entire program lasts for six months, with the first month
devoted to preparation, and HPU students can earn 15 credits.
The cities and countries that UWP visits vary depending on the
group, usually called a cast. The current cast is visiting parts
of Mexico, Thailand, and the United States.
Asked if UWP was like study abroad, Ross explained that “With
UWP, you get a chance to build lifelong friendships because you
grow together,” unlike study abroad, where the main focus
is still in the classroom.
Ross was eager to share some of her favorite experiences. One
group event, called Education Day, involved separating the cast
into three groups: “The Chinese, the Japanese, and then
the rest of us,” Ross recalled. The discussion was on how
each of the two cultures understood the events of World War II.
The versions of the two groups, based on what they learned in
school in their home countries, varied greatly.
Ross was deeply moved. “Listening to the two points of
views—they were completely different. What was supposed
to be a one-hour discussion lasted three hours.” She believes
it a rare event that people can get together and discuss such
tough issues in a civilized and understanding manner. “The
people [in the cast] are very accepting and kind, unlike anywhere
else—which is really hard to find,” she added.
Ross is now interning at HPU in a program to help inform HPU
students about the UWP program. She is also starting a club,
Global Link, for students who are interested in culture, the
environment, and travel. She plans seminars on global issues,
and potlucks, and invites people to visit the UWP Web site at
upwithpeople.org, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Another great place to find out what UWP students are up to right
now is the blog at castb2007.com shared by Kalamalama section
editor Nicole Loschke, who is currently traveling with the UWP
- UWP alumni in Hawai‘i currently: 70.
- UWP was the first international youth group to visit
China in 1978.
- UWP was received 14 times by Pope John Paul II.
- UWP has performed four Super Bowl half-time shows.
- In November the UWP will be performing for the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time.
- UWP will be at the Rose Bowl, Jan.1, in Pasadena, Calif.