Up With Alumni – May 2012 –

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Emily Allen

Many high school students dream of traveling the world, but for most that’s all it is: a dream. But for Dylan Sprague, a recent Woodland Park High School graduate, this dream may very well become a reality.

Sprague graduated from WPHS in 2011. “I really had no idea what I was going to do,” he admitted. “I wanted to go into some sort of performing arts, but I didn’t know what.”

His senior year of high school brought waves of changes, responsibilities, and decisions. Yet in the midst of the confusion, an opportunity materialized. Lynette Gustafson, a teacher at WPHS and an alumnus of Up With People, arranged for several Up With People staff members to come to the high school and speak to students who might be interested in their program.

For the past forty-seven years, Up With People has provided more than 21,000 young men and women from over one hundred countries with the opportunity to tour around the world. Students stay with host families, immersing themselves in the country’s culture. They volunteer their time and energy to local non-profit and civic organizations, and put on a professional show for the people they made friends with, and for those they helped.

For Dylan Sprague, it was just what he was looking for.

“Once I heard about Up With People, I knew exactly what I was going to do,” he said.

After Up With People’s visit to WPHS, Sprague applied, was interviewed, and was later accepted into the program. However, with a typical six- to twelve-month trip costing up to $25,000, he knew he couldn’t raise the money alone. Undaunted by the large sum, Sprague leapt into action.

“I’ve been doing a lot of fundraisers, some of which are garage sales, shows, and dessert nights. I have raised $8,500 with the help of family and friends through fundraisers.”

Sprague had help even before he applied to the organization.

“WPHS’s amazing Performing Arts department prepared me extensively for performing, which got me a scholarship with [Up With People].” This partial scholarship brings him that much closer to his dream of impacting the world.

So far, Sprague has raised half of the money he needs to begin his adventure. There is still work to be done: more garage sales and more shows have been planned, and he hopes more people will turn out to help.

“I think it’s important for everyone to get involved with something that has a positive effect on the world,” Sprague said. “If not Up With People, something.”

With all that is required to plan such an extensive trip, it’s easy to get discouraged. But Sprague believes that the reward will far outweigh the cost.

“I know the whole experience will be demanding and will push me to my limits. And I’m too excited to experience every moment that there’s no room for fear.”

To donate or to find out more about Dylan Sprague’s Up With People journey, you can visit his blog at dylanspragueuwp.blogspot.com.