|Anette and Jen reunited in Germany in 2005.|
Up With People ended on June 30th, 1996. It was a sad, sad time of goodbyes. My heart still hurts when I think of watching the bus with my European friends in it driving away. My journal describes how when my best friend left I felt empty. Completely empty. Sad times. I flew home to Minnesota and the next day my parents, grandparents, cousin, and I went on a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana for a week. I got over all my jet-lag on that trip and was able to talk and talk and talk and talk to my parents about my last half of my UWP year. It was a refreshing time.
I started college that next fall. It was hard being a freshman surrounded by other freshmen who were homesick and struggling while I was used to traveling the world! It was hard to connect at first. Classes were frustrating. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and I had been doing presentations in classrooms for the past year and now I had to take Political Science and Religion 100 when all I wanted to do was get back into a classroom! That was tough, but slowly I acclimated to college life. I made wonderful friends, played in the orchestra, worked with four year olds at a daycare, and was involved with the Christian outreach group.
I had my first mini reunion at college. Jill Evenson Abenth came to a Christmas concert one year and I got to see her and show her my UWP scrapbook. She had graduated from the very college I was attending.
One summer I spent a weekend with Juli Doudiet Seeger and her family. We watched UWP videos, told stories, and laughed a lot. That was a fun time. We've had a few other reunions with Minnesota folks (Jill, Juli, Latisha Schultz Zochert, and I). I hope we can have some more reunions soon!
Gavin Flexor attended the same college as me for one year. He was in the same dorm as some of my good friends. Small world! We got together and talked UWP lingo a few times too.
UWP came to my college to do a show one year and I saw Nina Ufer doing the dance for "Confidence." She was amazing! It was fun to see a show again and so thrilling to get to show my college friends a little piece of what our year was like!
Roma Shestakov came to visit me and my family the Thanksgiving of 1997. It was so good to see him and spend time together. My whole family loved him! We even visited his host family and they gave him a ride on their snowmobile! Years later, when Roma was living in Indianapolis, I had the opportunity to meet up with him and his wonderful wife, Stacey for an evening. So fun!
|Roma and Jennifer, reunited in Minnesota in 1997.|
|Claudia and Jenni-Ann, reunited in Minnesota in 1998.|
The summer of 1998 I also had a wonderful experience doing a two month tour across North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. My team led Vacation Bible Schools, put on concerts, led youth group events, and led Sunday morning worship. I gave a message/sermon about my service learning experiences in UWP about eight times that summer!
Five years after UWP I wrote letters to every single host family I had! I wrote to them on the day I arrived at their home five years earlier. I had a form letter to begin, but then I made each letter personal. I enclosed a recent photo of myself. I was overwhelmed by how many host families wrote back to me. It was incredible!
I graduated from college in 2000 and became an elementary education teacher. My first three years I taught second grade at a small Christian school in southern Minnesota. I had 10-12 kids each year. I had my students write letters to MANY of my Up With People friends throughout those three years. We had such fun learning about Europe and Asia and Africa. It was so exciting having my UWP friends write letters back to my students. They treasured those letters. I treasured those letters! I photocopied them and still use parts of many of them as I teach about different countries.
You can imagine how thrilled I was the first time Todd and I got to attend an UWP show near us. But, even better was having Todd meet some of my UWP friends. The summer of 2014 we took a month long road trip along the west coast of the United States. We spent Fourth of July weekend with Yasuko Endo Jackson and her adorable family in Bend, Oregon. That was a refreshing, healing, reflective time for me. The connection and bond I felt with Yasuko was amazing. And, my husband and I loved getting to know Yasuko's husband and girls! The time flew by!
The summer of 2003 two of my best friends and I took a three week road trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada. We stayed with Jill Deri's parents in Ottawa and had lunch with Sophie Matteau in Montreal. Those UWP connections are so fun!
|Sophie and Jen, reunited in Montreal in 2003|
After my three years at the Christian school, I moved to central Minnesota (Becker) and have been teaching second grade here ever since. I love teaching and am thankful for my job and students.
|Mrs. Sapp and her second graders, 2015/2016|
I went on a mission trip with my church to Ukraine for two weeks in July of 2005. Following that mission trip I went to Germany to spend a week with Anette Glaser Schmidtke! What a wonderful week! I even got to bond with her sweet daughter, Anna Siri. We explored Berlin, took a day trip to Poland, and spent time with Anette's parents (whom I had stayed with over UWP's spring break). I will always treasure my reunion with Anette! What a special friend! What a gift!
|Anette and Jen, reunited in Germany in 2005.|
In July of 2007 I met the man of my dreams and we were married ten months later. Todd likes hearing my UWP stories and he has sat through scrapbook viewings numerous times.
|Todd and Jennifer Sapp, May 3rd, 2008.|
|Yasuko and Jennifer, reunited in Oregon in 2014.|
After Oregon, we drove south to California and met up with a whole crew of UWP friends! Monique Dugars Jones hosted a dinner at her home in Folsom. Andrea Grover and Robbie Rousseau and Dustin Jay Hollingsworth and their families came to join us. We swapped stories and laughed and talked for hours! I loved hearing about Andrea and Robbie's wedding and Monique had quite the story about her time in Paris! It felt good to be together again.
|Jen, Andrea, Dustin, Robbie, Monique, reunited in CA in 2014.|
I'm glad my husband could be part of those two reunions in 2014. I don't know if it's possible for someone outside Cast C 95-96 to truly comprehend our UWP experience, but Todd is getting close! Todd even bought me a headband to go with my favorite sweater. The sweater was made by my host mom in Denmark from our UWP year. I'm thankful for a supportive husband. We love to travel together and do new things. One of my favorite things about UWP was that there was something new pretty much every day. I strive to keep things fresh and new in my life and I seek out new opportunities and experiences whenever I can.
|A matching headband for my beloved sweater!|
My husband has two boys, James and Daniel. James and his wife, Jaimee recently had a little boy named Jax, so that makes us Grandma and Grandpa Sapp! Crazy! I also have a very special relationship with each of my nieces and nephews. I love being Auntie Jen!
|My nieces and nephews bring me such JOY!|
So, there's a little about what Jennifer Iverson Sapp has been up to these past 20 years! I'm looking forward to future reunions in the years to come. My husband and I are planning a trip to Alaska and Yukon in the near future and we definitely hope to see Tanya Sage and Wendy Olkjer Clubb!