Two weeks may seem like a relatively short period of time. But it can have a life changing impact. I have seen it first hand through the IOU Respect cultural exchange program, offered annually by HI USA.
The IOU Respect program is delivered through a partnership of national hostelling associations from Egypt, France, Germany, Lebanon, Tunisia and the United States. Each year 18-23 year olds from these countries are invited to participate in two weeks of dialogue and learning, while experiencing hostels and cultural life in a host country. The 2015 IOU Respect program will be held in France from July 25th through August 8th and hosted by the French hostelling association.
HI USA is now accepting applications from US young people who would like to join the 2015 IOU Respect program.
What can you expect? When I visited with 2014 participants last summer in Tunisia, they described a mix of activities that, by the end, created deep connections among those whom two weeks earlier had been strangers. Facilitated dialogue sessions encouraged conversations spanning cultural norms and issues of the day. Small group projects promoted familiarity and team building. And group outings and activities were a great way to explore a new country. The 2015 program will feature a similar curriculum, this summer based in Paris.
It’s fun, it’s intense, and it’s eye opening.
Let your friends, family and colleagues know about IOU Respect. But don’t wait too long. The application deadline is May 15th, and final decisions will be announced on June 5th.