The path that Rani Rombauts’ life took was a bit unexpected. A native of Sint-Niklass, Belgium, she attended an international business school in the port city of Antwerp.
But before she could complete her coursework, she had to take an internship. That’s how Rombauts discovered Up with People.
“I had never traveled actually, and I saw that they were looking for interns ... it looked interested. So I did an internship with them,” she said.
Signing on with the international organization, one that promotes positive change among young adult participants, Rombauts was able get a taste of a global lifestyle.
“I was there as an intern for three months doing PR and then I went back home to do my bachelor’s thesis and presentation. After I graduated, they asked me if I wanted to come back,” she said. “I had other plans and took a week to think about it, but I decided, ‘OK why not?’ It’s an adventure ... going different places and meeting new people. It was a great opportunity.”
She hasn’t looked back since. And while she hasn’t been with the company long, she has ventured to the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Each place she visits brings new experiences.
“I’ve gone to set up for shows. Even though I have been to the Netherlands before since I’m close to the border but it was totally different. We have a different accent, even though we speak the same language, and I stayed with a host family,” she said. “So that was totally different. I had never been to Switzerland before and it was just lovely. They have mountains, and of course we don’t have mountains in Belgium.”
Rombauts has become a fan of the U.S. as well. After joining Up with People, she traveled to the company’s headquarters in Colorado. She has since visited other places around the country.
“I was in the U.S. for two and a half months when I was first hired. So I went to Denver for training and then to Harrisburg, Va. I then went to Germany,” she said. “Then I came to Georgia.”
Rombauts hasn’t been in town long but she is very aware of the storied “Southern hospitality.”
“People are so nice here, especially in Georgia. The Southern hospitality ... it’s true,” she said.
While there are plenty of differences between Brunswick and her European homeland, Rombauts is settling in nicely. She also has plans to help the cast of international performers do the same when they arrive.
“I’m looking for host families for the performers now. We are doing promotions and going to different service clubs. We are making announcements at churches to see if any of their people want to be host families,” she said. “We’ve been going to restaurants too, just to see if anyone can help or even wants to donate a meal to them. We will be going to the business expo and the chili cook off ... First Friday too. We are just getting the word out and getting to know the people here.”
They are also readying for the big performance, Up With People’s trademark, which will take place at 7 p.m., March 28, at Brunswick High School’s gym. It will be an evening of international flair with dancers and singers sharing cultures from all over the world who take part in the professionally produced show.
“We traveled the world and picked up something from every country. Our main message is that we want to keep hope alive and we want people to keep hope alive in their communities,” she said.
Hosts are still needed for Up with People cast members. To learn more, contact Rani Rombauts, a promotion representative for Up with People, by calling 720-434-9270 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.