HI USA Education Programs for Intercultural Understanding Through Travel

HI Chicago - Exchange Neighborhoods Program

Looking for a way to engage your students or organization members in a cultural exchange with another school or organization? Exchange Neighborhoods serves participants 15 years and older in an experiential and reflective program culminating in an overnight stay in the local HI USA Hostel.

Exchange Neighborhoods brings together two schools from different neighborhoods to form relationships to inspire mutual understanding and respect. A foundational belief of Exchange Neighborhoods is that proximity to difference assists in dismantling misperceptions and ignorance. Norms and cultures from each neighborhood are explored with curiosity and participants are asked to suspend judgement as they listen and learn.

To continue conversations that build comfort with complexities as opposed to sameness, the program culminates with a stay in the local HI USA hostel. During the stay, the participants cook and eat together, engage in team-building exercises, and are encouraged to engage with the international hostel guests. This experiential program sets participants on a path of continuously seeking understanding and respect for themselves, the communities around them, and the world. As a result of this program, participants will:

  • Recognize new perspectives on their own cultural rules and biases and begins to see multiple perspectives informed by experience and culture
  • Build comfort with complexities and unique features of people and cultures as opposed to seeking sameness
  • Ask questions and seek answers to deepen understanding of oneself and others
  • Exhibit curiosity while suspending judgement when engaging with cultures different from own
  • Demonstrate ability and commitment to engage as an active citizen to achieve a civic aim