Anna Miller will embark on a worldwide tour in 2021.
A longtime dancer with the Northern Lights Dance Academy in Park Rapids, Miller landed a spot with Up with People. She is currently a senior at the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Up with People is a nonprofit organization “empowering young adults to forge global connections and engage with communities through service and the performing arts. What this really means, is that we are a group of hardworking, passionate change-makers who are constantly seeking ways to make our world a better place, one young person at a time,” states their website (upwithpeople.org).
“They are a traveling, performance-based company,” Miller said. As a company member, she will travel to a location somewhere on the globe, do community service work during the week and stay with a host family.
“At the end of the week, they’ll do a performance with singing, dancing, music,” she explained, then move on to the next community.
Miller expects to perform on a U.S. tour, then visit a minimum of four continents over the course of one year.
Anna learned about the opportunity through her mother, Tanya, who is an English teacher at Park Rapids Area High School.
“She thought of me when I said I want to travel and I want to dance,” Anna recalled. “It’s kind of like the perfect thing. It melds everything I love together. I decided to apply because I love traveling, helping others. Also, performing is a big part of my life and I want to continue that outside of my school, and this is a great way to do that.”
Tanya said, “When Anna said she wanted to do a gap year between high school and college, I wanted her to make it something meaningful. I was discussing this with my friend, Laurie Conzemius, and she was the one who suggested Up with People, and I thought it was a great idea. ... I saw Up with People when I was a young teen, and I still remember the positive energy and talented performance. It occurred to me that this might be just the thing for Anna's gap year, since it combines several of the things she loves: helping people, performing arts, and travel. I was excited to tell Anna about it, and once she looked into it, she got excited, too!”
Anna has joined youth mission trips with Calvary Lutheran Church for the last three years.
“And every year, she comes back glowing with the joy of serving others,” Tanya said.
The service work through Up with People will vary, depending upon the location – “anywhere from building houses to picking up trash on a beach,” Anna said. “Whatever the town really needs.”
She departs in January 2021, returning in December 2021.
For the first round of auditions, Anna submitted a resume and personality analysis. After passing the pre-screening, she had a Skype interview. Now that she’s been accepted, she will leave in December 2020 to go to their training program in Colorado for a month before they leave on tour.
In the meantime, Anna must raise $17,000 to cover travel costs and boarding. Her Go Fund Me page is gf.me/u/xbtbpf. She also has planned some fundraisers.
“I have chosen to take a year between high school and college to make a difference in the world before pursuing my college degree. Please know that any money donated will be used 100 percent to fund my travel expenses, and is not a donation to the Up With People organization,” states her Go Fund Me page.
Anna will earn college credit during the two semesters that she is overseas. “They do classes while you’re abroad and touring,” she said.
Anna has traveled out of the country before. In fact, this spring, she’s headed to Paris with fellow Perpich students to study French for two weeks. This is Anna’s second year in the dance program at the arts school.