Orientation and Staging

Trip Start Jul 09, 2009
Trip End Dec 12, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello! It's 7:00 a.m. in Colorado and I thought I'd write a little bit about the yesterday's events before heading down to breakfast :)

After arriving at the Sherman Center - where UWP Orientation and Staging will take place for the next month - Helen and I decided to explore the building. It is a beautiful, old building colored in gold, brick red, robin's egg blue, and purple. We practice in a ballroom with high arches, a dark wooden floor, and a chandelier. At 8:30 a.m. we all met in an auditorium for a morning meeting, something that will happen every day. Following the meeting was "breaking-the-ice" sessions. These weren't your typical sessions either. I played an egg, a chicken, a dinosaur, a pirate, and other characters in order to get to know my fellow cast members. The great part about this experience is that I would probably have looked like a complete fool to others in the community and maybe some of you! However I was completely normal when compared to everyone else. We all have fun and it's comforting to know that we aren't being judged because everyone is being asked to do the same thing.

After a quick break - hydration is very important up in the mountains! - we had another meeting which introduced us to the basics of Up With People; what is expected of us, "rules and regulations", how to represent the organization as best as possible; etc... For example, even if I wanted to go to the opening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tonight (which I really, really do!) I probably couldn't because the UWP curfew is midnight, no matter what! 

After a great lunch in which I had a conversation entirely in Spanish with a girl from Mexico (great job, Concordia!), we met our staging staff or the people who will be teaching us the sing and dance for the next month. For the rest of the afternoon, we were like little, lost choir children as we figured out what parts we will sing and were given basic singing instructions. We sang the choruses of a few songs (the new ones are spectacular!) and then headed home. It seemed like I was there a whole day as we sat and listened a lot. For those of you that know me well, I'll listen if I have to but my attention seems to drift off periodically :)

After a quick dinner at home (we didn't get back home until around 6:30 p.m.), the girls (Gabi and Dani) and I played piano. I am teaching them to sing "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles, one of my favorite songs. My boyfriend, Matt, and I performed this song at Concordia's Family Weekend last fall. Matt played the piano and I sang the song. He taught me how to play the song but it is hard for me to play and sing at the same time - I tend to either stop playing and sing, or stop singing and play! However, the more I practice for and with the girls, the easier it becomes :) 

Before bed, Olivia, Helen and I talked for about an hour about our cultures, and as both women are from Africa, they discussed their ideas and cultures and I discussed those of the United States. Their childhoods and families are so different than ours. In Africa, you hug when meeting someone on the street, even if you don't know them. You hold hands with your best friend when going to the market and your sexuality isn't assumed. Grandparents and elders of the community are pampered and given the utmost respect as they are the most wise of the village. Evenings are reserved for laughing and talking, telling stories, and being with each other, not video games, television and the computer. Children walk home in groups of 30 or more and it usually takes 2-3 hours because they are playing games, climbing trees, and hearing stories from elders in the community along the way. Life is so much simpler and everyone is so connected. 

As I head down to breakfast, please try to incorporate some of these simple ideas into your week: eat dinner as a family away from the television, try to go one evening without electronics, invite grandparents and aunts and uncles for dinner and listen to their stories, spend more time with family and less time alone, and try to hug everyone in your family as much as possible. I think you will be amazed at what you will discover :)

Have a wonderful day! 

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