With Sunday 21st September marking the United Nations International Day of Peace, HI USA celebrated our global diversity by holding Sleep for Peace (#SleepForPeace) – an idea which was initiated by the deeply tragic Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, and the need to promote peace to the world through our local communities.
Sleep for Peace honours the importance of our hostel network spanning over 100 countries by reinforcing one of our most significant values: travelling, connecting with and making friends from around the world fosters our deeper understanding of people.
Looking back on some of the fascinating, fun and informative events held by our US hostels over this weekend – and in some cases throughout this week – gives us the opportunity to pause for reflection on why celebrating international togetherness is so important.
Now, with parts of the world in escalating states of conflict, what could be more vital and overarching than building a connection with those from a completely different cultural framework?
Our hostels provide a physical space to break down barriers created by religion, culture, and ethnicity – aspects of our identity which are often used to create divides in the world at large. It’s all about sharing a dorm room, eating a meal, having a drink together at the bar, organising a trip, finding kindred characters and common ground, and ultimately uniting a bunch of beautiful contradictions which would never have come together otherwise.
It’s all about a group of ten kids from EF International School encircling a pot of jambalaya they had cooked for the guests at HI – San Francisco – City Center, each from a different part of the world – from Brazil, to Denmark, to Japan – and all bonding over this quintessentially American dish. You’d assume they had known each other for years, but they had arrived just two weeks ago:
“When you think about world peace, it’s such a huge idea. But just by you being here interacting with each other, you’re already making a difference,” observed Anthony Jones, Activities Coordinator at SF City – Center hostel.
The significance of sparking up a dialogue between people from varying backgrounds bridges an invaluable gap – the space between minds – and through this, we can gain a new perspective on global issues. Above all, Sleep for Peace serves to remind us of a fundamental truth that, as humans, we are more similar than we are different. And who doesn’t like free food?
Want to find out more about our other projects? Take a look at our volunteering opportunities, peace promotion and eco footprints here. Interested? Go ahead and drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.