The residents of Thrive senior living facility had the world come to them this week.
The assisted living community hosted 18 cast members from Up with People, an international traveling performance group that has stopped in Glynn County for its 2018 Live on Tour production.
The performance group, made up of 105 cast members and additional staff, stays with host families during their visits in communities around the world.
Thrive was able to welcome 18 cast members, said Jennifer Stratton, the president of Thrive. Their stay offered both the cast and the senior community residents a chance to connect and share their cultures, Stratton said.
“For our seniors, it’s intergenerational,” she said. “It’s a huge thing to have that engagement and to have the elders who’ve been through so much, and the youth who have so much to learn and who can share their talents.”
All of Glynn County’s host families and cast members came together for a potluck event on Friday evening at the Boys and Girls Club in Brunswick.
The potluck dinner included Southern favorites like fried chicken, green beans, Brunswick stew and macaroni and cheese.
A major component of Up with People’s mission is community engagement and cultural exchange.
The cast members who stayed at Thrive put on acoustic performances for the senior residents. They also taught a yoga class with stretching tips.
They ate breakfast and dinner with the residents daily. This weekend they’ll participate in Thrive’s Spring Brunch and Egg Hunt event and will spend Easter Sunday with the residents.
“It’s been so great,” said Ellen Fierens, an Up with People cast member from Belgium who stayed at Thrive this week. “Everybody is so kind to us, and we got to interact with some of the people that actually live there.”
The potluck dinner Friday was followed by a civility workshop, to which all community members were invited.
“One of our goals is to impact and do that through the show and through volunteering, but we also have educational workshops where we share our vision on the world with each other and talk about important topics in the world,” Fierens said.
The group arrived in Glynn County on March 26 and will leave Monday.
The Glynn County community was welcoming and accommodating, said Wouter Lybaert, an Up with People participant from Belgium.
“It was good,” he said. “People are very friendly here.”
St. Simons Island residents Cheryl Hargrove and John Bauser took in a cast member from Finland, and they plan to show her around both Jekyll and St. Simons islands this weekend before she leaves.
“We’ve been exploring some of her interests and stuff, but we’re actually going to make sure she sees the Golden Isles,” Hargrove said. “We’re going to take her over to Jekyll so she can see Driftwood (Beach) and also to the village. We’re also going to take her to the lighthouse.”
Bauser said he first had exposure to the group years ago, and he’s always been impressed with the Up with People organization.
“I knew it was a high quality organization,” he said. “And I’m retired and we had room, so we thought we’d try to help out.”
Both said they’ve a wonderful experience getting to know the cast member who stayed with them.
Stratton echoed this sentiment, and she said the senior residents have enjoyed the cultural exchange that has occurred at Thrive this week.
“You’ve got all the different countries,” she said. “We have Belgium, we have Japan, we have the Philippines, we’ve got Sweden, we’ve got the United States, there’s Mexico … Some (residents) have been to those countries, so they’ve talked about when they went there years ago and the youth talked about what it looks like now. It’s been really cool.”