Christina Blaschke sets sights on world travel with ‘Up With People’

By Ken Luchterhand

Christina Blaschke has the chance of a lifetime. She’s going to take that chance and make the best of it.
She signed up to join the group “Up With People,” an organization that travels throughout the country and even to other countries.
Christina, 18, is the daughter of Cori and David Blaschke, Tomah. She has a younger brother, Noah.
She will graduate in May from Tomah High School and then begin her journey in July, having signed up for one year service to “Up With People.”
She had heard the tales of her mother being involved with “Up With People,” but her first direct exposure was when she had the opportunity to perform with the teen cast. At a reunion of former members, the children of those members were able to get on stage to perform.
 In school, she has some background in performing. She has sung at school and made speeches.
“I always loved music – singing and dancing – and the arts,” she said. Christina had such a fun time with the teen cast, she decided to join the organization.
They stay with host families in each state or country. They visit schools, talk to students, and perform community service at each stop. Later they perform on stage their singing and dancing. They each have to pay their own way and work to receive donations.
“In July I will start with staging in Denver. We will rehearse and then do our first show before heading on the road to several states, then several countries,” Christina said.
When she was accepted into the program, she was placed into one of the four available groups: Cast A, B, C, and D. She was placed into “Cast B,” with whom she will be traveling and performing the entire year of her service.
There are examples of the organization’s work on YouTube videos.
“The songs have meanings – social messages,” she said.
Christina said her influence in making the decision to join “Up With People” is her mother, Cori.
“Our family hosted ‘Up With People’ cast members in 1977 in Hawaii.  I was only three at the time, but I grew up listening to their music,” Cori said. “I got accepted into the program my senior year of high school and travelled with them from July 1992 to July 1993.”
Cori’s cast was made up of about 150 members from around 25 different countries, travelling throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada.
“The community service we did in each city was very impactful for me,” Cori said. “I got to spend time with kids from Sarajevo who were living in a refugee camp in the Netherlands and worked in an animal rehabilitation center in Sweden,” Cori said.
“I learned leadership skills as I went ahead of the cast and did promotion work in Antwerp, Belgium. The experience changed my perspective on the world and the responsibility we each have to make it better for those around us and across the seas,” she said.
“I was in choir and theater in high school, but the main reason I wanted to join ‘Up With People’ was for the experience through learning from those around me in the cast and host families; as well as, through community service,” Cori said.
Christina wants to go pre-med in college, so her mother suggested she take a gap year to experience this program.
“It would open up the world to her in ways that will benefit her throughout her life and career.  I want her to enjoy her youth and learn life lessons that she couldn’t learn in a classroom,” Cori said. “Both my husband and I are very protective of our kids, probably overly so, and are nervous for her to leave the nest.  But I know the impact it will have on her and am so proud that she is taking the big step to leave home to experience the world.”
As the day grows near for her to leave, Christina said there will be no hesitation to go.
“I’m a little nervous,” she said, “but I’m more anxious to get going and meet new people. I don’t like being stuck in one place too long.”