Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aberdeen, South Dakota

On our way to Aberdeen South Dakota, our cast spent the night at Outlaw Ranch in the Black Hills, located in the west-central area of the state. We spent a large portion of our evening learning about the week's Global Series topic. See my Wyoming blog to learn more about our cast's Global Series workshops. Our Aberdeen topic of the week was immigration simulation and became an excellent team builder activity for our cast.

On Sunday night the cast and I were introduced to the "Up With People Land" workshop. Each member of the cast was assigned as either an immigrant, an illegal alien, a migrant worker or a citizen. This weeklong activity was an exercise that allowed the cast to experience concepts of immigration and the hardships of the immigration process. The objective of the game was to become a citizen by the end of the week. Each cast member could become a citizen by either getting married or by taking a test of citizenship.

Personally, I was assigned as a citizen with a government job. I was given the role of "Keeper of the Peace" and was one of the only two people that could perform marriage ceremonies. If two members of the cast/citizens of "Up With People Land" wished to get married in order to gain their citizenship, they had to first come to me and my partner in order to find out if they were truly in love and not just working the system in order to gain citizenship. There were other cast members that held roles like Border Patrol and Governor, but each Up With People student was given a position in UWP Land that simulated some sort of real life position in the process of immigration. Citizens were given real-life benefits during this week of the game. Citizens could do things like, eat first during cast meals or get better seats on the bus. At the same time, illegal aliens and migrant workers had to become citizens and move up in the game.

Throughout the week our Up With People cast became a brawl of a society. Some citizens did their best to keep illegal aliens from gaining rights while others concentrated on electing new governors so that immigrants would gain rights. The entire week I interviewed "Up With People Land" couples and performed marriages at morning meetings. This activity became an excellent way for our cast to grow as a whole and witness how hard the immigration process can be.

Many exercises that UWP facilitates cause our cast to grow significantly. Many exercises can just be seen as fun activities, but every workshop we do simulates some sort of actual global issue. I am always blown away by our education department's ability to use our full cast in every activity.

Our week in Aberdeen provided Up With People students with a variety of ways to interact with the community. Our community impact projects provided Aberdeen with hundreds of hours of community service, but on Wednesday we participated in a cultural fair and mini show at the Aberdeen Mall. Students were able to educate the public about their home countries while promoting the UWP show. Our cultural fare was broken up by each region of the world. Obviously, I worked at the USA and Canada table, but our booth was poorly attended since we were placed right next to the European exhibit. The Up With People cultural fairs are always well received and are an excellent way for our students to educate others on their cultures and customs.

My experience in Aberdeen South, Dakota got even better when I found out that I had been selected for the Up With People Business Internship. The UWP tour is run by 16 staff members, but there are many things to manage during the tour so internships are given in each road staff position. As the business intern I work with Matthew, who is our Finance and Merchandise Manager on the road. I shadow the business process of the UWP tour and assist in business decisions that have to do with merchandise and economic planning for future costs. We use a creative process to design merchandise promotion, price points, and sales strategies. This internship also molds my public speaking abilities and my conversation techniques.

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