We Americans can’t seem able to agree on much these days. The controversy about whether NFL players should stand for the National Anthem during a football game is just the latest example. These disagreeable times make it even more remarkable that this group of 100 people spread the same positive message nearly 43 million times in just 3 days:


Nearly 3 years ago, Hostelling International USA worked with the White House to unite top travel bloggers and other influencers at a White House Summit to promote study abroad and global citizenship. It sparked a movement. The hashtag #studyabroadbecause made its debut and was adopted by the U.S. State Department. A community of bloggers passionate about this initiative cemented a bond to serve a greater purpose.

Study abroad is important to HI USA because it’s part of our DNA. We host thousands of incoming study abroad students each year at our hostels, and prepare countless young Americans for their own study abroad experience through our programs and our travel scholarships. Plus many HI USA staff and volunteers have studied, worked or lived abroad themselves and understand its value.

The idea of relaunching the event came amid startling questions being raised in some quarters about the value of global education and citizenship, and with the heartening realization that the key element of the Summit is the travel bloggers themselves, not the venue.

Working with Partners of the Americas and envisaged by Chief Social Architects founder Fran Holuba, the HI NYC hostel emerged as the perfect location to reunite our powerful messengers. Already bringing a diverse community of travelers to the Upper West Side of New York City each day, the hostel became home to the Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship, September 21-23, 2017.

Taara Rangarajan of Global Citizen leads a panel featuring scholarship winners from Partners of the Americas, HI USA, and Global Citizen. Credit: J. Bruck

The travel blogger audience included many first-generation Americans, hailing from Australia to Guatemala, India to Ireland, and Pakistan to the Dominican Republic, with ethnic backgrounds stretching across the globe. Teachers and TV stars, students and travel veterans filled the stage. But as diverse as they were, all agreed about the need for study abroad to create a more tolerant world.

And they agreed that study abroad is for everyone, regardless of financial or ethnic background. Everyone.

Here’s what some of our travel bloggers think:

Study abroad because … it makes your world big – Wandering Educators

Study abroad because … it creates a more tolerant and empathic world – Courtney Scott

Study abroad because … there are tons of resources and funding opportunities to do so! – IIE

Study abroad because … it will open the world to you, and at the same time open you to the world. – Why Wait to See the World

Study abroad because you will make lifelong friends around the world – Travel Barefeet

Now that’s a message worth repeating about 43 million times.


This post first appeared in my HuffPost blog on 28 September 2017.