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Power to the 'People'

The current 100-person cast of Up with People, from 19 countries, will be in Woodbury Sept. 12 to Sept. 18.1 / 2
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Woodbury resident Jaine Nelson wasn't your typical college freshman. In the fall of 1975, rather than trying to stay awake through lectures, Nelson was jet setting across the country for a year.

"It was exciting every day being a part of something that was bigger than I was," Nelson said.

The experience was through the nonprofit organization Up with People, which has been in existence since 1965. The group tours the globe with a worldwide cast participating in community service projects, staying with host families and performing in a multi-cultural show.

Nelson will be able to relive her Up with People days this September when the organization is in Woodbury from Sept. 12 to Sept. 18.

The current cast consists of 100 members, ages 17 to 29, from 19 countries around the world.

The multi-cultural performance will be Sept. 15 at the Loft Stage.

'Walt Disney's dream in reality'

Nelson said she decided to be a part of Up with People because of its message of tolerance and diversity.

"It's really Walt Disney's dream in reality," she said. "It's that idea of many nations working together."

Nelson spent a year traveling around the Unites States with her cast.

However, Nelson was also part of the educational tour that allowed her to take college classes on the road with college professors and earning college credit.

Nelson said the entire experience was amazing, but some of her favorite aspects were being able to travel and the many people she met along the way -- both the host families and her fellow cast mates.

"We all had differences but we were able to resolve them," she said. "We all got along for the same cause and by working together you can make that cause a reality.

"I felt privileged to work with these people."

A benefit for the future

Even though gaining college credit was a nice perk for Nelson, she said the biggest thing she gained from her experience with Up with People was lessons that she carried with her into the future.

Nelson said she learned a lot about public relations, how to organize, how to work with people and how to be a good listener.

"Everything contributed to my future and were valuable," she said. "You really get back so much more than you give

A change for the better

Nelson said she wouldn't change her experience with Up with People for anything because it has made her a much more tolerant and accepting person.

"You work with people from all walks of life," she said.

Nelson said she hopes all of Woodbury comes out for the performance on Sept. 15 because it will really change the way they look at the world.

"If it doesn't change them forever, it will certainly change them for the night," she said. "It's so uplifting, it can alter how you look at things.

"It will impact your life."

Up with People's performance will be 7 p.m. Sept 15 at East Ridge High School's Loft Stage. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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