One could sum up the vision of hostelling in this very quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
When people from around the world are given the opportunity to interact in a safe and comfortable environment, harmful barriers of misunderstanding and prejudice break down and new perspectives are born. Many people see hostels as inexpensive places to crash on the road, and that is partly true; however, hostels offer much more than just bunk beds. Inside each dorm room and common space, travelers from different cultures and backgrounds are having conversations about their lives and what matters to them. This bottom-up approach to creating a more peaceful world by way of meaningful, personal connections goes hand in hand with Dr. King’s beliefs. People fear what they do not know and do not understand. This is largely due to the lack of one-on one-interaction.
Our volunteer-led events, as casual as they can be, provide these one-on-one conversations and opportunities to build lasting connections with those who may have grown up halfway around the world, subscribe to different religious and political beliefs, or speak different languages.
Last Sunday, in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, we held a Sunday Supper at the hostel. Guests, volunteers, staff, and community members shared a homemade meal together and then watched the documentary Waiting for Superman about the public education system in the United States.
Earlier on Sunday, the Portland Burrito Project held its monthly community service work day, rolling burritos and passing them out to the hungry and homeless around Portland. Being MLK Day, it was a particularly important time to give back to the community, reach out to others, and form connections with those who are different from you. It was also a great reminder for many of us to be grateful for what we do have.
photos courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz
Our volunteer, Theresa, was planning on helping the Portland Burrito Project hand out food but she came down with the flu. She still wanted to contribute to the project, so she purchased all the ingredients necessary to make the burritos! Thanks, Theresa!