IOU Respect - Intercultural Exchange

Program Details & Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect before, during, and after the program?
What are the dialogue session topics?
What sort of leadership is in place for this program?
How do I get to the program site?
Can I arrive early or stay after the program to travel on my own?
What should I bring?
Is there a way I can connect with program alumni and others who are interested in IOU Respect?
What is the history of IOU Respect?
What is Hostelling International?

What can I expect before, during, and after the program?
Pre-Exchange
Participants from each country will engage in a series of preparatory meetings in person or via conference call in order to:

  • Create a plan for completing program preparations, including interviews and preparing presentations.
  • Plan for a culture night including food and activities from their home country.
  • Learn about cultural norms from each participating country.
  • Learn about program logistics.

Exchange

  • Participants will share information about their home countries with the group.
  • Regular dialogue sessions will serve to educate participants about participating countries, cultures, people, religions, stereotypes, and more. Participants are encouraged to carry on discussing dialogue session topics during free/down time.
  • Sightseeing excursions and social outings will foster unstructured communication and opportunities to learn about the host city.
  • Shared accommodation at the a Hostelling International hostel will promote interaction among participants.

Post-Exchange

  • Participants will create a plan for staying in touch, sharing the lessons learned in IOU Respect within their local community and collaborating on best practices for promoting intercultural understanding and peace.
  • Through assessments and multiple check-ins with participants after the exchange, leaders will evaluate the success of the exchange and support the participants’ ongoing efforts to promote travel as a means to achieve intercultural understanding and peace.


What are the dialogue session topics?
Dialogue session topics include:

  • Intercultural communication
  • Identity, discrimination, and privilege
  • Religion
  • Stereotyping and international conflict
  • Additional topics at the discretion of the facilitator and participants

What sort of leadership is in place for this program?
The IOU Respect Leadership team includes:

  • Facilitator: Responsible for leading dialogue sessions and ensuring a safe atmosphere for participants to share their thoughts, opinions, questions and feelings.
  • Host Country Project Manager: Responsible for organizing transportation, supplies, outings, food, accommodation and other program logistics.
  • Team Leaders or “Teamers”: Each participating country will have one Teamer. Teamers are former IOU Respect participants and are responsible for the overall support of the program including logistics, emotional support and general supervision and leadership.
  • Program Coordinators: Each partner hostelling association has a dedicated staff person or volunteer responsible for IOU Respect who will communicate regularly with the Team Leaders to support the program and the participants of their country.

How do I get to the program site?
American participants will be expected to arrange their own transportation to/from the host hostel. This includes purchasing a flight that arrives in the host city in time for the opening of the program and a return flight after the program is complete. Teamers will provide participants with directions to the host hostel.

Can I arrive early or stay after the program to travel on my own?
Yes, but you are responsible for making your own arrangements for transportation and accommodation, at your own expense.

What should I bring?
You will be provided with a packing list upon acceptance to the program, but all participants must have a valid passport from their home country at the time of departure.

Is there a way I can connect with program alumni and others who are interested in IOU Respect?
Yes! Like us on Facebook.

What is the history of IOU Respect?
Shortly after 9/11, 2001, representatives of the Canadian, German, and American Hostelling International associations recognized a clear need to exercise HI’s mission of building peace through bringing people together in order to close the gap between the cultures of youth from Western countries and predominantly Muslim countries. The best way to accomplish this, they decided, was through a cross-cultural international exchange program, which eventually came to be called IOU Respect.

This initiative was consistent with a worldwide campaign supported by HI, entitled "Youth Hostelling for Peace and Intercultural Understanding". The belief that hostelling has a contribution to make toward building a better world represents the motto of the campaign. In launching the effort, then HI president Harish Saxena stated that: "Youth hostels feel that they too must find a response to the dramatic, violent conflicts that tear cultures and nations apart. Our responsibility is to make our own contribution to intercultural dialogue, and to educate for peace." The program has been going strong in its current format since 2006.

What is Hostelling International?
Visit our About Us page to learn more about our organization.