Super Stars Welcome! The Up With People Experience

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Enjoy the Super Bowl?

As entertaining as the game always is, not to mention the fresh new commercials, the highlight of any Super Bowl event for a lot of viewers is the half-time show.

Katy Perry Super Bowl
Katy Perry’s super bowl halftime performance

What a spectacle that is every year!  Take the world’s most popular pop/rock superstar(s), insert him/her/them into the flashy lights, dancers, colors and majestic pomp, and watch what happens!  It’s part of the fun not only to enjoy the amazing performance but also to see how the organizers outdo one another year after year.

Dig this: prior to the sound and lights extravaganza that comprises current Super Bowl halftime shows, the shows in 1976, 1980, 1982 and 1986 consisted of a group of Total. Unknowns.  It’s true!  These young and enthusiastic performers, as part of a group known as Up with People, had a goal of promoting international peace and unity through music.

Enjoy some vintage Up with People by clicking on the link, below:

This group may not have thrilled the throngs of game fans quite like U2, Prince, or Beyoncé, but they have enchanted hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world for five decades and counting.

You – yes, YOU! – can be a part of it today!

50 years ago (1968), Up with People was incorporated as a nonprofit, apolitical, non-sectarian international educational organization.  In a nutshell, Up with People looks for high school graduates aged 17-29 who wish to tour the world in musical performances as “cast members.”  These youths perform for a variety of audiences and even participate in local volunteer opportunities.

Up with People performing

One of many Up with People performancesThe goal?  To unite people and inspire peace through music.  According to their website, they look for “cast members who are open-minded, service-oriented, adaptable, have an interest in the performing arts, embrace diversity, have a strong work ethic, and are in good physical and mental condition.”  No special musical or singing talent is required!

If Up with People sounds intriguing, I invite you to check out their website.  While there are costs for participants to join, there are several scholarships and grants offered as well as helpful suggestions for prospective cast members to raise funds on their own.  College credit may be available as well.

Up with People group pose
Life long friendships and memories included at no extra charge!

Former Up With People Star cast member shares her experience

In an attempt to get a personal perspective on participating as an Up with People cast member, I got in touch with Carissa Davis, founder of the fun blog 1 Day At A Time.  Carissa is an upbeat 19-year-old college student from Florida who’s “filled with enthusiasm and passion to make this world a better place.”  I encourage you to stop by her website as you consider whether Up with People is right for you!

Prague Up with People
Carissa in Prague!

Totally Teen Travel:      How did you hear about Up with People?

Carissa: Up with People came to visit my city during my senior year of high school. At the time, I was in a community volunteering club called “Interact.”  Up with People came to talk during one of our club meetings and explained that volunteering is also a big part of their program.  I went to their performance that weekend and applied immediately afterwards. I loved everything that they stood for and I wanted to stand with them!


Totally Teen Travel:     What did you find most appealing about the program?

Carissa: I found the memories I made and the experiences I encountered to be the most appealing part of this program. Many of the things that I did were so unique and such “once in a lifetime experiences.”  For example, I never thought that I would live in a home for a week where I couldn’t communicate in English or perform with a group of 100 people from 20 countries about the same positive message!  I never thought I would travel with a program that performed in a new city each week and volunteer thousands of hours.

Up with People perform

Totally Teen Travel:   Did you have any musical talent when you applied?

Carissa:  Prior to traveling with Up with People, I had been in chorus for three years of high school and spent several years dancing. But just so you know, for this program you do not have to have ANY experience performing to be accepted. Trying out is not even part of the interview!


Totally Teen Travel:    What tips do you have for anyone interested in applying?

Carissa:  Talk to your family and friends to let them know what you are doing and maybe consider their thoughts on it. At the interview, it’s important to just be yourself.  Also let them know you’re open to trying new things.  There is no right or wrong person that they are looking for, no specific race, gender, religion, etc. You just need to understand we are all about travel, performing, and impact. It isn’t very difficult to get accepted if you are truly interested in the program.

Up with People sleep
Ability to sleep on the fly is a good quality, too

Totally Teen Travel:       What did you like least about your experience?

Carissa:  Something that I did not really like about this program was the food. This sounds terrible right now, but it was usually only lunch that really bothered me because the rest of the time, the host families fed us.  But our lunch food was commonly donated and was often the same food over and over again. I felt like I was eating pasta, pizza, and sandwiches on repeat sometimes. LOL.


Totally Teen Travel:       In what ways has the program benefited you as an alumna (graduate)?

Carissa:  My eyes have been opened to places and cultures of the world I never even really knew about. I have become a much more accepting and less judgmental soul because of Up with People. It also has inspired me more and more each day to be a better person, spread smiles, and help others. And now I have the drive to want to improve myself, too. I strive to become a better person each day and focus on personal development!

Up with People parade
Parade Fun

Totally Teen Travel:    What tips do you have for anyone accepted into the program?

Carissa:  Spend time with your friends and family before you leave and pack prepared for anything. While traveling, take lots of pictures and write in a journal!  Don’t come with any expectations at all, because the cast is different every semester. Just be prepared to get out of your comfort zone more than you are used to. Sleep as much as you can before you leave. And keep your senses ALIVE. Pay attention to the flavor of the food, listen to every story, and keep your eyes open for the unexpected!


Totally Teen Travel:  Anything else you would like a Totally Teen Travel reader to know?

Carissa:  I hope you enjoyed hearing and learning about my experience and opinion on my travels.  I heartily recommend Up with People.  It has really opened my eyes and helped me mature. I also believe you must travel while you are young and have the time.  Travel will prepare you for the adult world.

P.S. If you are looking for a study abroad option… Up with People offers one!  You can earn up to 24 college credit hours in one year. Classes only take place once a week, so it is a great bonus option😊

Taking off! Up with People
Carissa is growing up and flying high!

Thanks so much for your insight, Carissa!   Readers, click here and here to read more about her Up with People journey.

Up with People poster

Follow Carissa on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram; let me know in the comments what questions you may have about becoming an Up with People Super Star!


All Photos, except Katy Perry at the Super Bowl, courtesy Carissa Davis


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38 thoughts on “Super Stars Welcome! The Up With People Experience

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  1. This sounds like an incredible program for students! Networking and mentoring are important skills for young people to have – not to mention they get to travel the world and make lifelong friends. It’s too bad the Super Bowl sold out to all those celebrity super stars!

  2. Thats really cool. I’ve never heard of this experience, but more and more I think kids should explore all options instead of heading right to college! Being able to travel, meet people such a unique expereince. Maybe they will come back to the super bowl!

  3. “Up With People” sounds like an amazing non–profit that gives teens so much fun international performance experience. Sharing on facebook.

  4. Wow never knew this existed! I’m going to let my daughter know about this. She is 19 and has a beautiful voice and dance!

  5. So interesting! There are so many opportunities nowadays. I would have never known of this unless you shared! So, thank you!!

  6. What a wonderful opportunity for young people to see the world, help others and make people happy! It was great to hear from Carissa as a past participant, and get her honest opinion of the experience.

  7. Looks like an a fun program to be involved in! I will have to remember that for my daughter for when she is older. She loves to perform. I love hearing about opportunities like this. Thank you!

  8. Hi my friend, thank you for reading this message

    Can you please do me a favor of sharing the scholarship oppurtunity on your website

    Here is the link

    I would love it if you can help in this cause, we are trying to help 3 students get $1000 scholarship each

    We are trying for maximum submissions by July 31, 2018

    Looking forward for a share of this scholarship on your website

    Thank you
    Spencer Carney

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