Blogathon: #49 – WrapUp

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So this is the last post for the Blogathon! After our community projects on the tour, we would get together for a wrap-up session, which allowed us to process our experiences and share what we’ve learnt. So consider this a Blogathon wrap-up.

We managed to raise (as of me writing this) $76. US$71 and AUS$5. To be honest I am slightly disappointed at the amount; my first attempt at Blogathon (well, Project-Blog), I managed to raise $137 with very minimal promotion. This time around, I promoted it everywhere – my crew list, BoG, alumni, LJ, elsewhere, tried the Blogathon games, and got very little in comparison. There is still time to donate, and Up With People takes donations year-round, so please contribute where you can!

I would like to thank the following people:

  • My sponsors – thanks for the support
  • Naoko for so graciously filling in for me when I was away
  • Sara and the bSpies for being cool monitors
  • Lorelle for being pretty much the only UWP alumni person reading and promoting this! Really great to have reconnected with you!
  • Everyone else that has read through and followed our Blogathon journey
  • Everyone that promoted me on their blogs
  • People that chatted with me online (MSN, Skype, Google Talk, IRC), whether I know you or not
  • Up With People, for being gracious and excited about the idea – I hope you’re not too disappointed with the $76!

Here’s a recap of all our Blogathon posts:

Thank you for your support and time and have a good life! Don’t forget to sponsor!

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Blogathon: #48 – Songs Review 4

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So very near the end! Don’t miss out your chance to get exclusive Up With People tracks just for a simple sponsorship!

With Everything Changing – another Carpenters/ballad!ABBA-esque folky song wondering if anything ever stays the same; the subject matter’s rather different from all the other songs. This is more about dealing with change and wondering if we will still be able to cope with all the changes in life. Easy listening.

I Am A Person – this is a very different Up With People song. Unlike the others (but perhaps vaguely closer to Keep The Beat), this is very dancy – almost like 80s Gloria Estefan or Paula Abdul or old-school Madonna. I’m wondering which show this is in because it’s so unlike all the other songs! This song laments about not being treated like a person but as a number, a “digital excuse”. (Perhaps the same lament school students make?) The rap is…a surprise.

El Puente – a Spanish guitar ballad, one you half-expect to hear under your window or on a gondola. I don’t understand Spanish though, so I wouldn’t be able to translate. Up With People does often sing songs in other languages – they’ve done Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese, as far as I know. There’s most likely more.

Moon Rider – a guitar ballad about the world – I’m thinking from the title that this is from the perspective of someone on the Moon reporting about the Earth. It’s actually pretty poetic, and has a very theaterical feel to it by the end. Definitely a very unique Up With People song, but a very good one really. I think this was very popular too.

Where The Roads Come Together – an acapella’ed intro song, with a slight barbershop-quartet feel, about life and all the different paths people’s lives can take. Music (pop rock; drums & guitar) kicks in after the first verse. Sounds like a song to close a show with (like We’ll Be There).

Pays De Coeur / Hartelijik Land – I think this is French but I’m not sure. A theaterical ballad, with choruses; sounds to me like a girl singing a monologue about her life or the path she’s on (but I don’t speak French so I may be wrong). She may be singing to a certain place (Hartelijik?) too.

And the very special tracks…donate $50 or more and you can choose from one of the following:

Up With People 1965 – the song that started it all. A folksy banjo ditty that will make you want to do a jig (or at least it makes Michael Bowerman want to do a jig).

Up With People 1998 – the same song (possibly a verse shorter), just updated into an upbeat pop track. Notce that the occupations change as well – that’s a recurring thing.

If any of those songs appeal to you, even just for the curiosity factor, then SPONSOR SPONSOR SPONSOR! You won’t be able to get them anywhere else for a long time!

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Blogathon: #47 – Songs Review 3

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We’re nearly at the end! We still need sponsorships though, and as I promised, any verified and proven donations get Up With People tracks for every $20. This post and the next will give more details on the songs you can choose from:

Keep The Beat – a pop-dance song, with techno influence, that also carries the metaphor of music as humanity. The dance for this is killer difficult…and we got the easy version.

Calling Home – this is one song you’ll never find on an Up With People CD. It’s a fun Broadway-ish song about calling home during the tour – mixing and mashing styles, languages, tempos (it goes into a very slow ballad in the middle) – you name it. It was deemed too “internal” though, so it never got used in a show. But it’s such a fun song to bop to!

The other songs I haven’t heard yet, and I need to post this now, so stay tuned in 30 minutes for the last Songs Review instalment – including the two special tracks!

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Blogathon: #46 – In The News

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I get regular Google alerts whenever Up With People makes the news somewhere. Most of the time it’s just the string “up with people”, which doesn’t mean anything to me. Sometimes it’s something being compared to Up With People (i.e. it’s “shiny-happy-strange” reputation). Once in a while I’ll get something that is actually talking about Up With People the organization – recently there’s been a lot of press in North Platte about Up With People coming over, and there was a news article about the reunion and about a wedding between two alumni members.

One article I just got alerted about puzzled me though. Apparently Up With People caused some sort of political rift?

From the Google Alert:

REVIEW : Politicians now speak from conservative dictionary
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (subscription) – Little Rock,AR,USA
… The turning point in the war of words between liberals and conservatives came in August 1968, when the group Up With People sang at the Republican National …

What did Up With People singing at a Republican convention have to do with anything? Did they inadvertedly cause something to happen? I’ve been trying to log in, but it’s pay only and BugMeNot’s not helping.

It was really bizarre getting that alert – the Up With People is non-political. Most of my crew were of liberal leanings. Even if we had a Republican (which I’m not aware of; we did have a few socially conservative people but I don’t know their politics), it wasn’t a matter of conflict. We weren’t told to pick one side over the other. Besides, with all of us from all over the world, it won’t have worked. Just take Australia as an example – their “Liberal” party is apparently very right-wing.

Now I’m severely curious. What happened with Up With People at the Republican event that apparently caused some sort of a rift? Can someone solve the mystery?

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Blogathon: I Am Back

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Ok, whatever it was that took me away from the computer has ended, so I’m back now. Thank you Naoko!

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Blogathon #45 – Apprenticeships

Ok… So I’m talking about the various methods of Alternative Education.. This is interesting.


In most places these days they’re called Industrial Training, where you learn the skills on the Job (for some reason, shows like the Apprentice and the Simple Life 3: Interns come to mind). I’m not talking about those apprenticeships.

I’m talking about the ones where you are actually APPRENTICED to a person in that business for at least 6-7 years of your life to learn the skills.

In Malaysia, a lot of the normal mechanics still do that. A large number of their personnel (their staff) have been with them for years, especially after dropping out of high school. They’re given some pocket money and plenty of hard work in order for them to learn the ropes. For them, it’s a different environment from school and it’s one where they get to learn something useful and something that they can survive on in the future.

It may seem traditional, but this method of learning is still viable and alive. And the good thing about it?

It gives these kids another chance. Dropping out of school isn’t that bad after all.

Blogathon: #44- SAC

Or Self Access Learning.

When I was a small kid, wayyy back in primary school, my classmates and I were introduced to this module called “SAL.” I always loved SAL as it meant a time to simply laze back when it came to learning English, though I was never diligent enough to finish the required Five exercises to gain the reward, which was to read the storybooks in that room. It was the only time in our school timetable that we were allowed to read storybooks during learning periods.

Why am I bringing this up?

Self-Access Learning was actually the Government’s attempt to get the students to choose their own learning materials and for them to learn English at their own pace. During this time, students (mostly those below 12) were encouraged to go to a small shelf/filing place with a certain color, pick the exercise they wanted, and then complete that exercise, using the final code at the back to go look for the answer sheet to see if they got everything correct.

The files were all color-coded (I remembered taking a lot of the easy ones, and those were yellow, I think) and choosing all the ones that I knew I had the answer to. The excerises weren’t easy, but they were fun to do. One of them involved standing in front of a mirror to see what the words looked like in a proper sequence.

It was a different method of learning, and I wonder how many schools still practise it. That exercise showed me that I had to learn things on my own, and I couldn’t rely on being spoonfed, but in my later years, I was.

However, SAL is definately an alternative mode of teaching and learning, so if you’re the one doing the teaching, you might want to think about adopting it for your next class.

Now… what do I write in 30 minutes? ^_^

Blogathon #43: Clubs and Societies

Hie guys! As you can see, Ti’s not here, so I’ll be here to cover her until the end of Blogathon. Since we’ve already covered the topic of Uniformed Societies, I thought why not continue with the theme and start covering Clubs and Societies.

In Malaysia, every subject had a Club or Society attached to them. This, I think, was so that students who loved the subjects and excelled in them would have an additional place to practise them, and it also afforded students like me who had crushes on seniors a chance to mingle with them and to exchange knowledge.

These classes often went outside the textbook, teaching us in a more relaxing manner, or helping us learn that there were other ways to learn the subject minus just being in class. For many, it was another chance to socialize, but again, it just seemed like a “Un-Uniformed” society, as we weren’t as stringent, nor did we have to wear our uniforms to these meetings.

If the Uniformed Societies taught us to be disciplined (though some may complain that they weren’t THAT disciplined after all, I should know cause I’m one of them :p) the CS taught us how to have fun with school subjects, and it taught us how to enjoy the subject without the teacher.

And hey, Alternative Ed’s not just about learning in the books.

The next post might be a bit delayed as I’m walking home (think about 10 minutes) but it should be about Self-Access Learning. What’s that? Now that, you’d have to wait for the next post!


Blogathon: Will I or Will I Not Be Here?

It’s O-Week at my college, and right now they have an Adventure Quest planned. My original joint blogger is nowhere to be seen, so I thought I’d have Naoko cover for the next 3 hours to wrap up.

I’m not sure if I’m going on Adventure Quest yet. I’ll wait for Naoko. But if you see her posting instead of me, it means I’ve left and she is now in control till the end.

Thank you so much for your support and keep them coming!

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Blogathon: #42 – The Show

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Thank you Naoko for covering for me for the part hour!

I was just at a meeting for our college dorm – there’s a Dancefest happening soon and they want as many people in it as possible. They showed videos of the previous Dancefest entries (theirs and another college’s); I kept mentally comparing it to what we did in our Up With People adventures.

The show is a key part of the Up With People experience. Even during the WorldSmart days it was still consistently there – we worked hard on getting all the songs and the dances and the other things we did right. Cast P in Denver was even more immersive and strenuous – we had to learn about 10-15 different songs and 5-7 dances in two weeks. At least on WorldSmart we had 18 weeks to work kinks out.

The WorldSmart Celebration performance and the Cast P performance were very different. The WorldSmart one was smaller, not quite as polished; it was mainly a bunch of kids having fun. It was a lot simpler, and also a lot more abstract in places – we had quite a number of interpretive dances, and a good amount of acting.

The Cast P one was a lot more musical – more songs, with the dances accompanying the songs – there were only two songs that were just dances, and one of them was only performed by 4 people. Even “Go Daddy-O”, which is just that line over and over again, had some singing. Cast P didn’t have any acting or pantomime, unlike the WorldSmart show. Of course, Cast P also had involvement from outside performers, which WorldSmart didn’t have – so the WorldSmart celebrations felt more intimate in a way.

I noticed a stark difference between the WorldSmart Celebration and the Cast P show in terms of rehearsal. The WorldSmart crew weren’t too hung up on being “perfect”. We just did our best, laughed when we goofed, relaxed a bit more. We didn’t hang everything on the show; some nights were not as good as others, but we let those go. In contrast, the Cast P crew seemed to be very concerned with making the show perfect – even though the main teaching crew (such as Michael Bowerman, who handled vocals) emphasized that he’d rather see energetic flaws than stoic perfection. Still, there were people so preoccupied with making everything correct that it affected the energy a little.

Energy is the one thing that brings all the shows together. It can make or break a show. It’s the force that keeps all the performers moving, motivated, motivating the audience. Our job there was to inspire the audience, to show them different cultures, to share the world; we needed energy to do that.

Some people may question the need for a musical element in Up With People. Why hang on to the past? What’s the point? Well, as is often said, music is the universal language; just the tone of voice and the keys of the music can say a lot about mood and meaning. What more the words and the dances!

Also, it is a great community activity; the whole town comes together to see something they’ve probably never seen and will never see again, and they get to share in the magic for once. We saw this very strongly during the WorldSmart tour; it was the smallest cities, like Murou, that gave the biggest support. They were still not jaded from constant similar entertainment, unlike bigger cities like Tokyo or LA; performances like these were like magic to them, and everyone craved magic. We all do.

If you’re ever in an Up With People host city, please come by to watch! We love audiences and we get such a buzz from being there. Be responsive too – applaud, laugh, clap along. Interactive audiences are the best audiences. And the best thing? We’re still down-to-earth, so you won’t need to go through bodyguards to get photos or autographs! 😉

The show, the rehearsals, even the backstage Huddle (my most FAVOURITE part of the whole program); all of them are so much fun, so energizing, and such good bonding activities. Do come by and share your support!

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Blogathon: #41- Uniformed Societies, pt 2

So, what does the Uniformed Societies offer for alternative education that the schools don’t provide? Here’s where the quote from the previous post comes into play:

It offers the skills you may need in one point or another in our lives. And not only that, it gives you the opportunity to actually practise those skills in a safe environment rather than simply learning about it from a textbook.

I was a Brownie when I was in primary school (Grade School for the Americans, I believe) and then I went on to be a Girl Guide in lower secondary (Junior High) and finally joined the Rangers when I was a senior. Being in those societies (especially later when I became a monitor and joined in the English Language societies, though no sports) taught me a lot of useful things, most of which I practise by instinct now rather than the book they taught us from.

I know that my friends from the Red Crescent Society and the St. John’s Ambulance learnt the skills to save lives (first aid). I know that my friends in the Scouts learnt how to do some pretty nifty knots, how to make things from scratch (they were ingenious in my secondary school when it came to making game stalls) and we learnt, especially during the Sports Day, how to work as a team.

None of these skills could be taught. It also did something most educational systems find difficult to do; bring us together regardless of race and religion. It taught us that beyond being an A student and by extension, the rat-race there were avenues for us to explore on how we could become better human beings.

And the best thing of all?

We chose what we wanted to be. What we wanted to commit to. (Although yes, we HAD to join the Uniformed Societies, but in the end we could do what we wanted to do).

And that made the learning process bearable and fun.

Blogathon: #40- Uniformed Societies

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
B. F. Skinner (1904 – 1990), New Scientist, May 21, 1964

This, I think, sums up the main nature of education. It’s what left in your head after the learning’s done.

Hello all. My name’s Naoko and I’ll be your blogger on this blog for the next two posts as ED has to be away for a bit.

Alternative education, as mentioned before, basically means anything and everything you don’t quite learn the conventional way, that of being in the classroom. In Malaysia, as an initiative to promote students to be all-rounders, there’s a certain activity that is set aside and called “Extra-curricular activities” to promote this.

One of the components is called “Uniformed Societies.” Basically these are societies that have their own uniforms, such as the Rangers, Scouts, and even the St. John’s Ambulance and the like. You can see where I’m going, no? If not, then stay tuned for the next post about how these societies (approved by most governments, no less) actually help to promote alternative education and hopefully provide you with a different view of alternative education.

See you in 30 minutes!

Blogathon: #39 – United Planet Writing & Photo Contest

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United Planet, which organizes various “quests”, or volunteering activities around the world, is organizing a Writing & Photo Contest to commemorate United Planet Day on September 21st 2006.

Winners will get a free two-week Quest on any of their short-term locations worldwide. Closing date is August 25th 2006 so hurry! Enter now!

Also, I may need a guest blogger for the next two posts. If you’re interested, email me at NOW. You’ll need to get a WP.Com account, which is free.

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Blogathon: #38 – Education, Politics, and Blogs

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This is an intriguing thing I’ve observed about blogs that deal with education in some form:

  • Unschoolers tend to be very liberal, sometimes radically so
  • Homeschoolers tend to be middle-conservative, often Christian (which informs their beliefs on education)
  • Many general education bloggers are on the conservative side
  • There aren’t a lot of education blogs that are liberal or nonpolitical (this one’s non-political, perhaps more towards the liberal side)

Why is this? Are conservatives generally more interested in education? Are educationalists generally more conservative? Where are the other political voices in education? Where are the non-political education bloggers?

Any ideas? It’s hard enough as it is to find people who deal with alternative education.

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Blogathon: #37 – Jessica Pierce & Taking Action

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One month ago blogger and guidance advisor Ian Ybarra wrote about one of his students, Jessica Pierce, who died while trying to save some other friends from drowning in Costa Rica.

In the entry, Ybarra talks about how he had presented an opportunity to the high school is was at to go to Economics for Leaders, a leadership camp that included economics knowledge. Even though it was a very simple application process, Jessica was the only one who went up to Ybarra and said “Yes, I’m interested”. Another girl had applied without telling him, but Jessica showed initiative in asking for help (especially for endorsement letters, which were required) and guidance.

The rest of the entry showed how Jessica stood out from her peers; she communicated her needs and received plenty of guidance on how to acheive her goals. Ybarra did try reaching out to the other students, but the other students never really communicated to him what he could help them with. Only Jessica took advantage of this connection and made the best of it.

The moral of Jessica’s story is best explained through a line from an essay Jessica had written (perhaps as an application essay):

We have all been given so many opportunities, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything that we can do to make the most of them.

Opportunities exist all around us. It is up to us to take these opportunities and make the best of them. It is when we take those opportunities that more will come to us; once one door is opened, the rest open wide too.

Ybarra asks that if you know a young person who’s putting off doing great things, tell them Jessica’s story. If you know parents who stifle their children out of fear of the unknown, tell them this story. Share this story with everyone who is hesitating on making the best move of their lives.

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