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Up with People leaves footprint

Kimberly Hetrick

Students across Eagle County have learned poignant life lessons this week, all thanks to the teaching and volunteering of Up With People. This organization is about “bringing the world together” by delivering common messages of hope and goodwill.

Thanks to Ross Morgan — a member of the Eagle County School Board, advocate and Up With People alumnus — our county has had the honor of hosting more than 100 young men and women from all over the world. While teaching classes and giving back to our community in service projects, these young adults pursue their own global education by traveling, performing and impacting.

The “Voices Tour” started right here in our valley this Monday.

First, local families volunteered to host Up With People. The families gave a hot shout out:

“Hosting the Up with People kids has been a true pleasure. They are some of the most respectful, appreciative and enjoyable young adults I have ever been around. It has been an incredibly positive experience for us and has given our kids a glimpse into other cultures and worldviews. I couldn’t possibly recommend it any more highly to other potential host families,” Brian Claydon said.

“When they are with their host families, they don’t expect anything extra … and they made the learning experience fun,” said Megan Rupp, an 11th-grader.

Second, as part of Eagle Valley High School’s annual diversity week, the school community has had the privilege of experiencing the Up with People phenomena. I say phenomena because these talented, bright, inspired young adults created a situation that challenged students to think critically and communicate openly.

Students from my classes were pumped up:

“I feel like Up With People is a great program that helps people become more united. In class they made us play a game in which we had to say each other’s name without hesitating, and it just made me realize how unaware I was about not knowing a lot of people in that class. I personally would want to join the program, it is a nonprofit organization, but I feel like all the things you learn throughout the program about yourself and the rest of the world is more valuable than the money itself,” said Lizbeth Aguilar, 11th grader.

“You guys have incredible morals. You are the beginning of a generational movement.” Tyler Beckum, 11th grade.

“My connection to the speakers is that they too had challenges learning English.” Martin Mata, 10th grade.

“I can really connect with Up With People because my dream is to travel the world, not only to experience different cultures, but to make a difference.” Jessica Hernandez, ninth grade.

“I would like to share with the speakers that I admire what they do without being paid.” Maria Ramos, 11th grade.

“One message I would like to share with the speakers is that they were very inspiring and made me really think.” Matthew Sanchez, ninth grade.

“A connection I can make is wanting to make a difference in the world or in someone’s life. … They are great role models and I’m glad to have met such well-spirited people.” Mariah Perez, 10th grade.

“I’ve been in this class for over a month and didn’t know what some people’s names were. Up With People helped me make new friends.” Kyle Jordan, ninth grade.

“Josiah, you’re pretty cool. … Thank you for taking the time to get to know us. … I plan on joining Up With People.” B.R. Lawrence, ninth grade.

“I want to remember these activities and how cool you guys were.” George Cruz, ninth grade.

What was one thing that surprised you? “The diversity.” Jordan Avila, 9th grade

The best news of all is that community members may also meet, greet and experience Up With People today and Saturday at 7 p.m., when Up With People will be performing at Eagle Valley High School. Bring your family, as the performance is sure to be a life-changing event. Up With People has tremendously impacted our community. My heartfelt appreciation.

For more information about Up with People, visit http://www.upwithpeople.org.

Kimberly Hetrick teaches at Eagle Valley High School.

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