Hanna Fernando-Pacua (PHILIPPINES) temporarily leaves her comfort zone to travel, serve, and perform around the world in five months. She hopes to share with you this very meaningful experience.

Up with People provides students with an extraordinary semester of traveling the world. As a student your perspectives on the world will never be the same. UWP is for that certain student who's looking for an intense, hands-on, involved global educational experience. The program addresses the very real need for young adults and leaders who have global perspectives, intercultural understanding, knowledge of worldwide social issues, leadership skills and a dedication to community service. For more information, visit www.upwithpeople.org.

HANNA's SATTELITE SITE and GALLERY (+ photos, videos, calendar) http://www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/

Friday, 29 June 2007

Byahe Tayo! (Let's Travel!)

I love this video. It shows all the great places of the Philippines --

Ang ganda ng Pilipinas, Ang galing ng Pilipino!

(The beauty of the Philippines, The greatness of the Filipino)

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The Up With People Tour Schedule and Itinerary

I totally feel like an artista (actor/ actress) going on a road show. Each batch in the Up with People program is called a "Cast" . There will be two Casts travelling this July .. I prefer to be in Cast B because it will travel to the Philippines. This is a perfect opportunity for networking and linkaging and, of course -- I'd be happy to show them my country . (Not to mention me getting home earlier! )

So you can better understand this program please read on. Most information came from the website, www.upwithpeople.org.

The Up with People program is conducted twice per year, with start dates in January and July. Each program is 22 weeks long, beginning with a four-week orientation in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

The whole group arrives in Denver, Colorado for a four week orientation. All participants are responsible for getting to Denver on the designated arrival day. During staging, students will begin to study intercultural communication, performance, leadership development, service learning and other topics pertinent to help them succeed in the program. A big part of the orientation time will be spent learning the Up with People Show.

In addition, participants will start preparing for life "on the road" by engaging in community impact activities, learning reflection, establishing and discussing the group's norms and expectations. This framework will help to establish a comfortabl environment that values respect of self, group, community, culture, and the Up with People program.

Sample Week
Most days will begin around 8:30 and end around 6:00 -- late evenings may be scheduled to accommodate additional activities and certain days of the week may also be switched based on community needs. For example, a facility for the Up with People show may only be available on Saturday evening so Friday becomes a Personal Day and Saturday becomes the Up with People Show Day.

Cast B 2007 Tour Schedule (all cities subject to change)

July 7 - August 5 Denver, Colorado

North America
August 6 - 12 Tucson, Arizona
August 13 - 19 Prescott/Peach Springs, Arizona
August 20 - 26 Las Vegas, Nevada
Aug 27 - Sept 2 San Diego, California or Reno, Nevada
September 3-9 Weed, California or Winston, Oregon
September 10-16 Bend, Oregon
September 17-23 Eugene or Salem, Oregon
September 24-30 Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington

October 1 - 7 Lecco, Italy
October 8 - 14 Luzern, Switzerland
October 15-21 TBA, Germany
October 22-28 Prenzlau, Germany
Oct 29 - Nov 4 Dronten, The Netherlands
November 5 - 11 Leuven, Belgium

Nov 12 - Dec 10 PHILIPPINES -----> you see now why I like this

Cast C 2007 Tour Schedule

July 7 - August 5 Denver, Colorado

August 6-12 Tucson, Arizona

August 13 - September 2 Thailand

September 3 - 9 Espoo, Finland
September 10-16 Sodertaije, Sweden
September 17-23 Vimmerby, Sweden
September 24-30 Uelzen, Germany
October 1-7 Erfurt, Germany
October 8-14 Hasselt, Belgium

North America
October 15-21 Atlanta, Georgia
October 22-28 New Hampshire
Oct 29 - N0v 4 Rhode Island
November 5-11 Hartford, Connecticut
November 12-18 CT/NY Area
November 19-25 Suffern, NY
Nov 26 - Dec 2 North American City
December 3 - 10 Washington, DC Area

Will update you about my future cast! We will know during staging in Denver.

The Final Cut: Shengen Visa

I hurdled the application process.

I successfully went through the long financial aid application.

I got the scholarship. I was able to raise the remaining funds.

I had a passport. I had a US Visa. I got a confirmed booking.

But I did not have a Shengen Visa.

The Shengen Visa is the "unified Visa" system in Europe. With this, you may just enter one country in the region and travel freely throughout the Shengen zone. Internal border controls have disappeared; and there are no (or few) stops or checks.

FYI, the 15 Shengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finlad, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries except Norway and Iceland are European Union members.

There are also a lot of countries NOT required to have the S.Visa when entering the countries above - but we are the Philippines :-) so we obviously need it. (I remember someone telling me to blame the millions of Filipinos living illegally abroad because they are the main reason why obtaining Visas in the Philippines is hard)

I never had any experiences on Visa application. Thanks to my parents, I have had a US Visa since I was three years old and we just kept on renewing it. Right before 9/11 I was renewed with a 10-year US Visa, which will expire in 2010. I am sure it is a lot harder to get one now.

The stories I heard about the quest for the much coveted US Visa were enough to make me so jittery when I applied for my Shengen. By joining Up with People (UWP) I was bound to be unemployed for the next 5 months and then some. And a lot of people told me that "employment" is a big factor that they consider when giving Visas - because this is proof that one is bound to his or her country and not planning to leave illegally.

Well, some people can lie during the interview, right? But I was afraid that if I lie about unemployment, they might ask another question that can put me on the spot...

It was such a short interview which puzzled me greatly. Then they got my passport and asked me to wait approximately 2 weeks for a courier to bring me my Visa decision.

2 agonizingly painful weeks.

Which ended today.

It turns out that HONESTY pays! I got my Visa, and we are good to go!

Next step: Panic Packing!

By the way, I am still using my maiden name, "Marianna Alfa G. Fernando" in all my documents , not yet my married name. I haven't had the time to change IDs and status yet. But I promise I am bringing my husband in my heart and in my spirit.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

How it all began...

I work for Ayala Foundation, Inc -- a corporate foundation of one of the biggest business conglomerates in the Philippines. We have different programs on education and youth development, environment and corporate citizenship. Check out the website at http://www.ayalafoundation.org/

In one of her trips, our president was able to get the Up with People annual report and sent some copies to our office. The catchy cover , as well as the tagline "Getting involved in communities. Getting communities involved" caught not only my eye, but also my heart.
As I browsed through the report, I got even more and more excited. Travel. Performance. Service.

That is just so Hanna. I felt like the qualifications described me perfectly!

If you're between the ages of 18-29, interested in becoming a global citizen and looking to be engaged in meaningful community service and an inspiring musical performance,then click here to begin your adventure!

I immediately applied!

First step was the application form. I was so happy when they contacted me for an online interview. What followed was a phone interview from the Enrollment Services Coordinator of UWP Denver.. since we had to take note of the time difference, they called me at around 10:30 in the evening! It was a good 45 minutes of interview which I thoroughly enjoyed!

Fantastic that I passed and I was accepted to the July 2007 cast!

I immediately applied for Financial aid and scholarship from Up with People. And miracles upon miracles, I was awarded some. :-) Very generous individuals also gave me some more funds to cover my counterpart funding. I cannot thank you enough!

So now -- I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Shengen visa. Two steps away from full blown UWP trip! (the VISA and the fully booked planes...)

If I swing this, I vow to be a very good Filipina delegate -- somebody you can be proud of!

What is this all about?

You're probably wondering ... what is Hanna's business suddenly packing up her bags and travelling around the world to -- travel, serve and perform!? It was just a wild coincidence that while sifting through office junk and brochure samples (which she loves to do!) she came across this:

The Up With People program is a six month global education and community service program for international youth. The mission of the program is to train young people in global leadership and to spark them to action in meeting the needs of their communities, countries and the world while building bridges of understanding as a foundation of world peace.

The program combines leadership curriculum with extensive hands-on community service learning opportunities through volunteer work, internship projects and an unmatched travel and cultural immersion program. I will travel with one hundred international youth and become culturally immersed in 19 diverse communities, in 7 countries in 3 regions in the world. We will spend one week in each city, learning first-hand from our host families, fellow participants, road staff instructors, and the unforgettable people we meet and places we experience along the way.
At the end of each week the Up with People cast will participate in an uplifting, thought-provoking performance featuring music, culture, and multi-media. The performance celebrates each community in a unique way and highlights local organizations striving to make their community a better place.

Read more about UWP at http://www.upwithpeople.org/

... so here I am, starting a whole new blog about this whole new adventure!