LACONIA — As the city prepares to welcome the cast of Up With People for performances during the first week of September, organizers are putting out the call for host families.
Performers will arrive from Denver during the evening of Sept. 1 and leave in the morning on Sept. 8.
According to promotion representative Brenda Lopez Amaro of Mexico and promotion intern Marie Bubern of Belguim, some of their best memories during their year of performing all over the world with Up With People have resulted from their stays with their host families.
"It was the first time I was in touch with another culture," said Bubern, recalling the time she spent with a family in Denver who fed her first s'more and brought her to her first open-fire barbecue.
She said she also thinks of her host family in Trieste, Italy, who took her on a trip to Croatia and Slovenia – two countries she had never seen.
She also said she got a email from her host family in Montana a few days ago that "made her smile like a baby."
Lopez Amaro's family was a host family for Up With People when they came to Aguascalientes, her home about six hours north of Mexico City.
She said her involvement with Up With People began when she met two girls from Belgium and Spain who stayed with her family.
Host families are asked to provide a bed or couch for one or two participants, breakfast and a few dinners. The host family is also asked to provide transportation to the Laconia Middle School at 8 a.m. and transportation back to their homes at 6:30 p.m. after rehearsal during their seven-day stay in the city.
Performers are looking for an overall safe and comfortable atmosphere where they can share and customs and cultures with Laconia area families.
Part of the Up With People experience includes some civic participation, and so far some of the advance team has helped with the Laconia Got Lunch Program and with Hands Across the Table.
Up With People performers are from all over the world. Lopez Amaro said some of the countries represented in this company are Nepal, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, United States, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Finland.
There are about 55 girls and 45 boys and if a family wants to serve as a host family to multiple participants the performers will both be of the same sex. Ages range from 19 to 29.
"We are very flexible," said Bubern. "It can be an air mattress or a couch."
Over the past 40 years, Up With People have interacted with 500,000 families in 40 different countries.
Performances are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 5, and Saturday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School. The group will do a pre-performance at Rotary Park during the annual Multi-Cultural Day activities.
Up With People is sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire, WLNH 98.3, The Laconia Daily Sun, and Aavid Thermalloy and Laconia Kiwanis. The proceeds from the shows will go to Stand Up Laconia – a program designed to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in the city - the Laconia "Got Lunch" program and Gilford "Got Lunch" program.
To act as a host family, please contact Misa Grenier at 608-606-9694.