June 11th marks a special day for hostelling. Two years ago, committed HI-USA volunteer leaders gathered from across the country and voted a momentous decision: to join their 26 previously separate councils together with the National Office to form a single unified organization.
It was a noble act of democratic decision-making: to unify all councils together, and thus transform a fragmented structure into one better suited for the times. By combining talent and finances, HI-USA would have the resources and reach to fulfill its true mission potential.
Now two years later, 19 councils have successfully unified, with more on the way. A five-region operating structure – which emphasizes local uniqueness and mission delivery – is being finalized. Fresh new strategies – focused on quality hostels, a growing network, more learning experiences, and wider civic engagement – are being put into place.
VISION 2020 embodies our unified aspirations, to be:
1. A leading hostel provider in the world.
Independent travelers, especially 18-30 year olds, seeking a unique and engaging travel experience will think of us first. They will vote with their feet and book HI-USA hostels in their travels and recommend the experience to their peers, friends, and families.
2. A valued source of experiential learning.
Independent travelers seeking to broaden their worldview will look first to us. We will offer them travel-learning experiences that teach hard-to-find lessons in intercultural understanding, encourage reflection, and build leadership.
3. A widely recognized champion for intercultural understanding.
Our work will provide dramatic examples of thoughtful dialogue that generates greater tolerance and compassion. We will be recognized for developing young people who break down racial and ethnic barriers, challenge misunderstanding, and expand the possibility for greater peace.
4. A vibrant presence in communities across the United States.
Our mission will be represented in communities large and small, through both face-to-face and virtual engagement. Hostels will be a focal presence in localities that can sustain them; activities and programs – both organized and self-directed – will be an opportunity available to all.
5. An effective advocate for youth travel.
We will be a passionate voice for hostelling and travel in the halls of government. We will be a leading proponent of the value of travel in building a more peaceful domestic and global community.
With unification complete, HI-USA will be primed to reach out and realize these goals. We’ll capture the imagination of a new generation, and in doing so, honor the legacy of those who came before.