Respect is a simple concept vital to our world.  With it, comes the possibility of better understanding among cultures, religions and races.

Yet it’s not always easy to deliver.  In a world swirling with diplomatic accusations and nationalistic finger pointing, cutting through the media fog can be impossible while gazing at a screen.  In-person, one-on-one conversations can be the best way to dispel misleading, destructive stereotypes.

Enter travel, and hostels.

Travel offers entry into countries, and hostels entry into conversations.  Among independent travelers, “hostel” is a sort of code … for a welcoming place where people are interesting, beds are less expensive, conversations are plentiful and minds are open.  It’s a place made up of common rooms, group kitchens and dormitory sleeping, so guests expect interaction.  When respect is present, understanding follows.

Yet sometimes, citizen diplomacy needs a nudge.  And that’s what HI-USA did along with a handful of Hostelling International associations from other countries in the aftermath of September 11th.

Enter IOU Respect.

The program brings together college-aged youth from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, and France, Germany and the United States.  Our staff help guide young participants to get those sometimes-complicated visas necessary to cross national borders. Our hostels are the perfect venue.  And our skilled facilitators help make the two-week program a valuable one.

How valuable?  From two past IOU Respect participants, in their own words:

“The international friendships … make me realize that we are all just people at the end of the day and that our differences are simply what make us unique, not incompatible.”

“We debated, questioned and disagreed about some of the most important issues of our world, while still being able to end the day sharing a meal, busting moves on the dance floor, or jamming under the stars.”

IOU Respect delivers on the promise.

Enter, you!

The 2012 IOU Respect program is coming to the HI-Chicago hostel on July 8-20.  If the program interests you and you are between 18-23 years of age, you are invited to learn more.

IOU Respect is a terrific program deserving of your support.  You can help to underwrite the cost of this innovative, hostel-based program that builds dialogue and promotes understanding among cultures.  Contribute today!

Respect depends in part on being given the chance to exercise it.  Travel enables the opportunity, and hostels deliver on it.

By | 2018-04-19T18:04:20+00:00 March 13th, 2012|Our Community|1 Comment

About the Author:

Since 2000, Russ has been the CEO of Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around. The HI USA hostel network is consistently recognized as one of the best in world by the International Youth Hostel Federation and by independent rating agencies. Russ has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences on topics ranging from experiential education to nonprofit management. Russ serves on the Boards of the UNWTO, US Travel Association, and WYSTC.

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