Multi-cultural student group visits Hopi Reservation

<i>Stan Bindell/NHO</i><br>
Hopi High students pose with cast members from Up with People on Aug. 26.

<i>Stan Bindell/NHO</i><br> Hopi High students pose with cast members from Up with People on Aug. 26.

POLACCA, Ariz. - Up With People highlighted a visit to the Hopi Reservation with a performance Aug. 26 as they mixed cultural tunes with American songs.

Performing with 85 people from 17 countries, the group brought a high energy positive message about the need for people to reach out across cultures.

"We are so excited to reach youth across all three mesas and engage them in this incredible experience. We want to impact them in a way that leaves them feeling empowered to go out and make a difference in their community," stated Margaux Brassinne, one of two representatives for the group. "Up with People's stay in Hopi will be something the entire community can ... remember" she added.

The day before the performance, the cast broke into sessions to visit classrooms at Hopi High School. The day after they performed they provided community service projects for the Hopi community including cleanup projects and helping the elderly.

The cast and staff stayed with host families in Hopi. "Although their stay was short, we are constantly reminded of the impression the cast left on the community... and that the community left on the cast. We have former host families so thrilled to welcome new students into their homes - and returning cast members eagerly awaiting a chance to reconnect to their Hopi families and friends" Brassinne added.

About 250 folks attended the musical performance in Hopi High's auditorium. Hopi High Principal Glenn Gilman said it was the most professional performance the school has seen.

The performance included singing, dancing and a few jokes were thrown in to go along with comments about social justice.

The songs included tunes from Belgium, Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, Africa and Japan. Songs from the 1950s and 1960s dominated the American music tunes.

"What About Now" and "One Person, What Can I do?" were the songs that sought to get locals more involved in important issues such as the environment and saving water.

Up with People uses music as a universal language giving people a chance to see the similarities and differences of people from different countries. It is meant to give hope to the world while celebrating each community. They brought several Hopi community members up on stage to sing and dance with them from the little ones, to high school students to older folks.

The Up With People students teach the communities they visit about their cultures while learning about the cultures they visit.

Lance Coochyouma, an Up with People alumni, stated that the cast's visit to Hopi is an exciting opportunity to bring their student experience full-circle. He explains, "I'm excited to bring the cast home to Hopi because it is a chance for them to see a culture within the larger American culture ... and for my community ... this is a chance for our eyes to be opened by the many cultures that are represented in the cast."

Up With People costs $14,250 per semester  for college students who want to join the six month tour. Semesters begin in July and January. Applicants must be 17-29 years old. Acceptance is based on character, motivation and maturity. Applicants must be high school graduates.

For more information, log onto www.uwpontour.com.

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