Alumni Spotlight: Amy Jordan Russ

Why did you choose this program?

My first exposure to Up with People was a musical performance, and from the opening number, I was hooked!

The energy of the cast members, the message through their music and the idea of traveling with 100 participants for a year really appealed to me. I had an interview after the show and was accepted to the program a few weeks later.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

At that time, I was a senior in high school and had plenty of college options available to me. I asked my counselor what he thought about Up with People and he encouraged me to participate, for an adventure of a lifetime and for maturation.

There weren't really Gap Year programs at that time, but for me to travel with Up with People for a year helped prepare me for college and beyond.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Journal. Take the time to jot down notes, take photographs, write down bullet points, or even collect postcards.

Utilize some method of recording your journey, because it all happens very quickly and it is easy to forget as the years go by. Plus, it is fun to reminisce and relive those amazing experiences.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Busy! Monday is travel day, whether by bus, plane or ferry to a new destination to meet your new host family. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are spent in the community, interacting with students and sponsors, conducting workshops, providing community service, and learning about the city.

Friday and Saturday are show rehearsals during the day and public performances in the evening. Then, on Sunday, you can relax with your host family and hope they take you on a fun local adventure.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

I had never traveled much, and was a bit fearful of getting from Point A to Point B. But, immediately Up with People squashed that anxiety.

They are a well-run, organized, safety-minded and credible organization with more than 50 years of success launching young people to reach for the stars.

As a cast member, you travel with a group of 100, which include a dozen+ staff members who are accessible 24-hours a day in case of an emergency.

Why would you recommend this program to others?

If you are looking for a unique, life-changing adventure, check out Up with People!

Participants travel the world, make a difference, perform for thousands, gain a global perspective, make life-long friends, increase confidence and acquire life skills. And, college credit options are available as well.