From Driver to the world

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NRHS grad joins international touring company

Travel and performing are two of CheRae Chaney’s great loves. Soon, she will be able to enjoy the combination of those passions.


Next year, Chaney, a resident of Driver and a 2010 graduate of Nansemond River High School, will venture out with Up With People, an educational touring group of 18- to 29-year-olds that travels the world performing and doing community service projects.

Chaney said she was inspired to apply to be a part of the group when she saw a performance in Harrisonburg, where she studies theater at Eastern Mennonite University. “When I went to see the show, I thought it was really cool,” she said.


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She had been searching for an opportunity to study abroad, and though she liked the programs the college offered, she was enthralled with the chance to visit communities around the world and help make a difference in them.

Chaney said she didn’t want to visit places and just hear about the problems; she wanted to do something to help solve the problems.

“When (group members) go out, they try and make an impact,” Chaney said. “I think what sold it is why they go out and perform.”

“They really want people who not only want to help but have the will to help,” Chaney said.

The group’s diversity also attracted Chaney to Up With People. There are about 100 members at any given time from countries all around the world, including Japan, Switzerland and Mexico.

“It’s not just one nationality trying to represent all these other nationalities, it’s actually all of the different nationalities,” she said. “I like that you don’t have to be a citizen of any certain country.”

Chaney will start her time with Up With People in January by spending three weeks in Colorado, where the group is based, learning the performance and preparing for the travel.

At this point, Chaney has no idea where she will travel. She said it would be nice to see Mexico or Taiwan, but she’s up for anything.

“I’d love to go anywhere,” she said. “I love that we can see and help (the countries) from a different point of view.”

Even though her trip is still seven months away, Chaney said she has started preparing already.

She has already begun considering what she’ll pack, and she will be attending the Stella Adler Studio of Acting June 29 through August 5.

Since EMU will not pay Chaney’s expenses to join the group, she must raise the money herself. She recently held a fundraising event in Harrisonburg and hopes to hold some around Suffolk, too. Chaney is also accepting donations.

She will keep a blog during her travels, so anyone who donates will be able to see the work she is doing.

She also expects her time with Up With People to give her a chance to teach others about her home.

“I really get to represent my state, my community and my country in ways you don’t usually get to,” she said.

For more information about the group, visit or contact CheRae Chaney at