Kasha Sequoia Slavner is a 17 year old filmmaker, photographer and blogger from Toronto who first connected with HI USA in San Francisco during a six month trip around the world with her mother, Marla.   Their Global Sunrise Project, along with Kasha’s documentary in the making, The Sunrise Storyteller, reveals a young woman of talent and commitment. As my first guest blogger, Kasha shares her impressions of UN International Day of Peace activity at the HI Toronto hostel.  – Russ


Last year, on my 16th birthday, I took off school for a six-month journey with my mom to East Africa and Thailand to make a documentary on global citizenship.

Kasha in Toronto

At the HI Toronto hostel

In our travels, we stayed mostly in hostels. When you share a room with strangers it doesn’t take long to learn the rules of peace. Smile, be kind & respectful, and talk to one another. Everyone must find a way to get along and by doing so get to know each other.

I was really happy to learn Hostelling International-Canada, HI USA, & Hostelling International, are doing their part in this peace movement with their initiative Sleep for Peace. On September 21, the UN International Day of Peace, they held events all over the world in their hostels to open a dialogue about peace.

Some activities taking place globally included: cooking international dishes, storytelling, documentary screenings, peace walking tours, karaoke, a unity bonfire, pajama party, twitter chats about peace and the list goes on.

I was in school all day but very excited to learn about an event in the early evening at HI-Toronto. I gave a small presentation to hostel staff about how my project to travel the world actually started with my involvement in an organization dedicated to peace.

Toronto sheet messages

I wrote “Peace begins by traveling into the heart”

HI-Toronto put together a bunk bed on wheels where guests got to write messages of peace on it. After this activity they planned to take the bed with them on a pub crawl across town. Before they could leave I jumped on the bunk to add my message too.

People were also encouraged to buy their own pillow cases for $5 and the proceeds would go toward the Youth Tourism Foundation, which “encourages young people to continue their education through travel and international experience. It awards two types of grants twice yearly.”

The hostelling community is on to something. By taking part in events like Sleep for Peace we create dialogue around the topic and build bridges to even greater understanding of each other. The United Nations World Tourism Organization expects over a billion people will be traveling this year worldwide – that’s a lot of chances to get to know one another. Peace and sweet dreams!



Learn more about 2015 Sleep for Peace activities on UN Peace Day in the US and around the world!   Plan to join us in 2016!