Up with People On Tour Gap Year Experience

Video and Photos

UWP Peaple and host families
UWP Peaple and host families
This was one of our education opportunities: we went around on a boat in Tiberius, Israel in the Sea of Galilee. We learned about its history and the meaning of it to its people. It was a great experience.
For our community service, we cleaned up as much as we could around a slum area of the Philippines. We then walked through the slums and got a view from their "beach," which is a heap of trash that they play on by water. Afterwords, we did activities with the kids. It was such an eye-opening experience.
Up with People is not religiously or politically affiliated. However, we had the amazing opportunity to sing for him at the basilica and take a picture with him. ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
Host Families!

About

Are you ready to turn your dream of travel into a reality? Travel with purpose. Volunteer around the world. Perform for thousands.

Up with People on Tour provides a multi-destination gap semester (5 months) or full gap year experience where the young adults can take their passion of travel, volunteering, performance, education, and leadership and put it into action through the power of their own voice. Our international gap year experience immerses participants into many different cultures through a unique blend of music and social action, travel and host family stays, and so much more. We provide an in-depth experiential learning environment that will prepare you to navigate today’s complex world in both your professional and personal life.

Now accepting applications for our January & July programs!

Highlights
  • International Travel & Host Families
  • Volunteer Abroad
  • Performing Arts
  • Leadership & Professional Development
  • University Academic Credit (Optional)

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 75 reviews
  • Housing 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.8
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 75
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Mark
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing then and now

Traveling in Up With People was an amazing experience. We didn't just visit other countries, we lived with families every place we went. I had never sung or danced before Up With People, but I was surprised by how much I loved performing and being a part of our show. We also had some very memorable community engagement opportunities, from visiting refugee camps in Scandinavia to flood clean-up in the US to helping a poor neighborhood in Mexico to renovate their homes. Traveling with the other people in the cast was the best part, in my opinion. Spending every day with people from more than 20 different nations who have all come together to learn and make the world better... it changed my perspective forever, and I am still in touch with friends around the world 25 years later. My experiences in Up With People led me to amazing international career opportunities and to lifelong friendships.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Performing for the Pope in packed Mile-High Stadium
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Likun
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience

I traveled with Up with People 5 years ago. I was a backpacker before but it was so hard for me to get US and Schengen visa to travel when i was a students back then. I heard Up with People from a friend that his friend traveled in this program. For me at that moment, it was a great opportunity for me to see the world outside of Asia and i never regret for a minute with this decision. Stay with host family, travel to a new city every week and volunteer work have give me so many opportunity to do new stuff, meet new friends and there are so many "aha" moment on the tour that just broad my horizon.I don't know there is a show though, and i never sing or dance before in my life, but it turn out to be a high and super memorable experience when i look back my Up with People experience.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I ate cherry jelly for the first time with my host family in Denver. But i invited them to try to black jelly (Tortoise Jelly) from China later and they all get scared.
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Alys
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Story

When I came to this programme I had no idea what to expect. I just packed up my bags and showed up in Denver. After going through some ups and downs learning the songs, the dances, the names, the people, the travels, the courses, and of course the program, I found such a weird family of loveable goofballs I never wanted to leave. We would sing in public together, go on crazy city exploring adventures, laugh about how we were broke and then adventure some more. I learned so much about so many different cultures and people and cities and just about the world around me. But something I never imagined was that I’d feel like a sister to someone from Switzerland, or have a best friend in Texas, or meet other people from Bermuda. Now not only do I have so many new skills to put on a resume and college application, but I have a home in at least 25 different countries around the world.
So something I would say is people ask me “Why Travel” and my response is “Why not?”

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
People tell you that everyone will love you and want to get to know you and be your friend, you won’t believe them. But you will find your chosen family here, and everyone will love you and be your friend and care for you. It is such a great experience.
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Angela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A perfect opportunity to be out of your comfort zone and grow

Up with people is changing. There’s a before and after up with people. Why? Because you grow in every single aspect of your life, your mind understands new things that maybe you didn’t see before but they were always there, you learn how to truly love everyone no matter what your differences are, you become adaptable to any situation because you get to be in a new city every week so everything is changing all the time, and very very important you get to know yourself, what you want, and how much you have left to do in your life. it motivates you to start new projects and to do things that maybe you wouldn’t have done before. plus it’s fun, you travel so much and get involved in cultures, languages and communities as well as finding a new family that Will always support and be there no Matter what
it’s super amazing!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Try to be your best self, and to always ask questions and learn. Also never waste the opportunity to get to know someone, make connections
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Ellie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Changed my life

I spent about 2 years in uwp as a student and staff member. I’m not lying when I say my best memories are from those two years. I’ve made life long friends, mentors, and family through this program. It’s not for people who aren’t willing to put in effort and commitment to others and the countries you visit. It’s not for people who don’t want to be pushed out of your comfort zone. It will bring the best out in you, it will show you sides of yourself you didn’t know you had. It’s a 6 month or year commitment and it’s not free, so putting in as much as you want to get out of Up with People is IMPORTANT! I’ve seen myself transform in a matter of 6 months. My family didn’t recognize me because they saw a new confidence I never had. Don’t pass this up!

What would you improve about this program?
Improvement could be diversification and Implementing new ideas and not being afraid to break some societal rules.
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Dylan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

So many amazing things combined into one

This program is NOT for the unmotivated or slackers, however anybody else will both thrive and grow in a multitude of ways. The combination of Cultural education, service work, and personal and professional growth is unparalleled in any other experience I have had in my life. I had the opportunity to do a full year of Up with People in 2013-2014 then from there went to university. Even after completing two degrees in University and studying abroad for 6 months in Buenos Aires I still know I grew more in my one year of Up with People than 4 years of University. It took me from being a super vanilla version of myself to the person I truly was meant to be. Literally would recommend to anyone looking to better themselves and better the world. You truly won't regret it.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Climbing in Mexico, Rafting in Wyoming, Performing for the Pope at his weekly service, Swimming in the Dead Sea, Exploring castles in Germany, Performing at the Nebraska state fair, Living on a Northern Cheyenne Reservation for a week, Snowboarding at an indoor ski hill in Belgium... Truly too many experiences to count.
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Carlos
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best program to travel & Volunteer

I travelled with Up With People in 2017, and I can honestly say that it was the most changing-life experience I've had in my life. The program takes you on challenges and out of your confort zone in a way that no program does. Traveling with 100 people from 20 different countries opens your vision of the world, you start to understand that we are all connected somehow. With it's incredible educational program, you'll learn to listen, understand and respect other cultures and to have an open mind. The volunteer part of the program is an incredible opportunity that there's always ways of helping the world, it doesn't matter if you are in Mexico or in Switzerland, there's always something you can do, and doing it with 100 people that are here for the same reason you are, it's an amazing opportunity.

Overall the Up with Program is an exceptional opportunity to travel, make connections, volunteer, meet people from all over the world, and perform

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The day I arrived to Denver for starting the program, I arrived alone, I didn't knew anyone in the program yet and I have zero idea what to expect. As soon as I arrived, the wonderful staff from Up With People welcomed me with big hugs and support. When I saw 100 people together it overwhelmed me and I thought I was never going to lear and get to know everybody's name even if we travelled together, well I was wrong, just after 1 day I knew everyone in the cast and it immediately felt like I was part of a family.
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Kim
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Program

I can easily say Up with People changed my life, in so many ways. (I traveled for 5 semesters...one as a participant and 4 as staff.) I have learned so much about the world, about cultures, about performing, and most importantly about myself. Up with People has given me skills and experiences I will take with me for the rest of my life. One of my favourite parts about this program though, is the people. The host families, the other participants and staff... I have made so many life-long connections and friendships. My other favourite part is that while you are having the time of your life, you're helping others. You're learning about the communities you're visiting and learning about how to create change. It's an amazing chance to be able to make a difference in people's lives and give back.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I still remember being so amazing at how blue the water was in Bermuda. I'm from Canada, and our ocean water just LOOKS cold. I honestly have seen pictures of water that blue, but seeing it in real life was just unreal.

Another surprising thing for me was just being part of a musical performance! I never thought I would be singing and dancing on stage, and looking out into the audience each show, the surprise never wore off. Each time there were moments of, "wow, I'm ACTUALLY here. I'm ACTUALLY on stage". It is an incredible feeling.
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Momoko
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best way to be fluent in English

Main reason why I joined UWP is to be comfortable with communicating in English.
After I traveled for a year with UWP, I went back to college and I realized my ability to communicate in English was more fluent than most of students who did study abroad program.

Here is why I think UWP is good place to learn English.
UWP is about understanding each other.
I never felt judged because of my English.
We never have English class like language school,
however, because of those amazing people from all over the world,
I was always so motivated to gain more English skill to communicate with my friend.
I just wanted to get know them and learn from them.
And I believe pure motivation and curiosity are the key to learn any skills.

Another reason why is the safe environment that this program create.
To achieve something, we all need experience failing.
People grow so much in UWP because they experience this cycle in such a supportive environment.

So, If anyone is looking for opportunities to learn English, I highly recommend this program!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Our cast visited Cuba for the first time.
Cuba had been always top country I wanted visit but I did not know that we are going when I applied.
2 weeks in one of the most artistic country in the world was just life changing.
Michael
Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The only program that combined all of my passions

My main question when planning my gap year was: how do I accomplish all the things I'm interested in... in just one year? Up with People was the only organization that combined so many of my passions and interests in one program!

The fact that I was able to travel each week to a different city gave me a true feeling of embarking on a world tour. And since I was surrounded by 100 people from 15-20 countries, it really felt like I was traveling around the world WITH the world.

The volunteering we did in each community provided a rich blend of experiences. Whether we were interacting with children whose only insight into the world outside of their home was our international presence in their classroom, or serving meals for the homeless and listening to their stories of hardship but also hope, or even providing the manual labor needed to clean/build/restore community areas... it was always a meaningful experience for all parties.

Music is another component that makes this program so unique, and the best way to bring the world together. I had no performing arts experience prior to traveling with Up with People, but the life skills I learned from standing on stage and projecting to audiences of 1000+ each week, combined with the feeling of togetherness that comes with performing with 100 young people from around the world, made this an invaluable experience.

But the most life-changing part of this program that can't be explained until you experience it, is the personal development component. Each day on tour, Up with People's experiential learning curriculum created a space like NO OTHER for us to share our opinions, challenge our world views, and see society through the lens of our group's vast diversity. I came away from this program with an unapologetic feeling of hope that young people have what it takes to take meaningful action around the world and change it for the better.

People say that without intention, a gap year abroad can be a waste of time. Up with People is at the top of the intention mountain!

What was your funniest moment?
The look on the face of my roommate for the week, when our Mexican host family told us we would be trying lengua (cow tongue) that evening. It turned out pretty good actually!
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Alicen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A transformative experience

I traveled with Up with People as a student participant for 6 months and then 4 years as part of the volunteer staff. The program took me to places I never would have taken the initiative to visit otherwise, like Cuba, Kosovo, Estonia, Bermuda, and Mexico. Staying with host families has allowed me to see how much good there still is in the world. My memories from my time on the road are focused around people - I remember each country by the people I stayed with, the people I served with and the people we performed for. It's a unique way to see the world that only Up with People can offer. Living these experiences in a group from 20 different countries builds international friendships for life - you become part of something so much bigger than yourself.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was given the opportunity to gift a photo to Pope Francis and shake his hand on behalf of our cast.
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Shawna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime!

I traveled with Up with People in 2008, and had the most incredible, culturally-immersive experience! I now have friends, and host families from countries around the globe. The opportunity to travel while giving back to communities through volunteer efforts gave me valuable perspective as to what others are doing to give back and create change. I am grateful for all that I got to experience and loved that my tour allowed me to see different regions of the world and many places I wouldn't have otherwise have visited. I was initially hesitant about living with host families, but that aspect turned out to be my favorite part. The conversations that happened around dinner tables worldwide gave me personal insight into the communities, and the people that call those places home. More than 10 years later, I am still in touch with the families and friends I encountered along my way!
I can't say enough about this program and the value of seeing the world in such a unique context. I highly recommend Up with People to anyone wanting a transformative cross-cultural experience!

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Joe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing program!

I never had the chance to travel with Up with People since I only found out about it when I was well past traveling age. But I have been working for 2.5 years in the admissions department in the Denver office and it has been fantastic! The program has so much to offer - leadership training, international travel, cultural immersion (through host family stays), community service, musical performances - there really is no other program like it. Getting to see the cast when they arrive in Denver and be around their energy is incredible, and it just continues to get stronger and even more incredible as the weeks go by. If you're looking for a unique gap year or study abroad experience where you can have fun, help others, and make lifelong friends that become like family, then this is the program for you!

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Brad
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

the Up with People Program

UWP is truly a program like no other, combining a multi-cultural program (typically 15-20 different nationalities represented) with international travel, host family stays, an intense and rewarding community service program, and the performing arts (even for those who can't sing or dance :-) ).
I traveled with UWP in the '80s, and in addition to life-long friends who are still my closest friends today, I met my wife on the road.
I owe a great deal of my career, and certainly my family situation, to the impact that UWP had on my life.
Coming out of high school, I wanted to be a teacher. Little did I know that I would spend my life teaching in a totally different way than in the classroom in eastern Iowa. After UWP I spent 25 years in the intercultural field, and have now returned to UWP, working in their European operations.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come with an open mind, a passion for people and learning, be ready to stretch yourself and live outside your comfort zone, and plan to "sleep later" when your semester is complete.
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Avery
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Program!

Up with People has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother traveled and worked with this organization when she was young so I grew up listening to the songs and her stories from the road. The experiences she shared with me that the students have during their semester on tour are incredibly unique and special. The bonds formed within casts truly last a lifetime! Through my connection to the program I am close friends with many of the recent alum (many of whom are even children of my mother's cast mates!) I am thrilled to now be working at the Denver Headquarters as an Admissions Recruiter helping to shape the incoming casts! When you reach out for more information on this program you will likely be hearing back from me; I'm excited to work with you!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come into the program with an open mind and be ready for an incredible journey!

Interviews

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About Up with People

In a world filled with constant change, we are often divided by fear and intolerance. Up with People is breaking down these fears by using our unique blend of volunteering, the performing arts, and travel to empower people across the globe to think...