On September 21, HI-USA and guests from across the world joined together to promote tolerance, understanding, and world peace.
It sounds like a lofty goal, sure, but it's one that the United Nations encourages people to spend at least one day each year working towards. Since 1981, the United Nations has recognized an International Day of Peace; in 2001, the UN established September 21 as an official annual day of global non-violence and ceasefire.
As a non-profit organization committed to fostering travelers' understanding of the world and its people, we at Hostelling International USA couldn't be more excited to spread the word about the International Day of Peace. That's why, for the second year in a row, HI-USA once again organized its own "Sleep for Peace" week to coincide with the the International Day of Peace. On and around September 21, HI-USA hostels hosted events all over the United States to help get travelers and local community members talking and thinking about what it means to work towards peace.
Of course, being a hostelling organization, we had fun while doing it! That meant musical performances, movie screenings, meal nights, and lots more at hostels across the country. Read on to see what our West Coast hostels got up to this year, and get more information on Sleep for Peace events by using the hashtag #SleepForPeace or following @HIUSA on Twitter!
HI-San Francisco City Center
On the night of September 19, guests stayed up all night chatting with staff and fellow guests at our SF City Center hostel – they may not have been able to sleep, anyway, after the hostel's tongue-in-cheek "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie marathon. Things mellowed out on Sunday, September 21, when the hostel hosted a night of music with local gospel group the Pearly Gates, as well as a candle light vigil for victims of violence. Guests were also be encouraged to help the hostel update its "Pillar of Peace" wall monument, where images of their personal favorite peace-makers joined the ranks of past staff favorites including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Twain, and even the Starship Enterprise's Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
HI-San Francisco Downtown
Our Downtown San Francisco hostel celebrated the Day of Peace early with a screening of the film "The Day After Peace" on Wednesday September 17. Guests noshed on free pizza as they watched the movie that chronicles filmmaker Jeremy Gilley's years-long struggle to establish an international day of ceasefire and non-violence. Guests had a chance to chat with staff and fellow hostellers afterwards during a discussion of the film. On Thursday, September 18, the hostel hosted an "Eating for Peace" night with a vegetarian taco dinner and group discussion.
Sitting in the verdant hills of a National Park overlooking the San Francisco Bay, HI-Marin Headlands may just be one of the most peaceful hostels in the world. And hostel staff takes the distinction seriously! In celebration of this year's Sleep for Peace, HI-Marin Headlands hosted several days' worth of events, including live music performances throughout the weekend. In the days leading up to the Day of Peace, guests were also invited to contribute to the hostel's "peace tree" by writing their intentions for peace on fabric pieces that will be pieced together like leaves on fallen eucalyptus branches.
On Saturday, September 20, the hostel helped out with the California Coastal Commission's Coastal Clean Up Day. Guests joined the HI-Marin Headlands staff for a morning of do-gooding on Black Sands Beach, a steep – but enjoyable – hike away from the hostel.
Later in the day, the hostel hosted a "Dance for Peace" class in a meadow next to the hostel. Hostel volunteer Nicole Tuscher was on-hand to demonstrate and teach guests moves from capoeira, a style of Brazilian dance.
To celebrate the official Day of Peace on September 21, the hostel hosted a pizza dinner and discussion night. After dinner, guests were invited to "Meditate for Peace" during a hostel-led meditation hour.
HI-Point Montara Lighthouse
Sustainability and peace often go hand in hand, so this year our Point Montara Lighthouse hostel recognized the International Day of Peace with a "Gardening for Peace" day. The hostel celebrated one day early, on September 20, with an open invitation for staff, guests, and community members to get their hands dirty working together as a community in the hostel's beautiful garden. Afterwards, hostel staff member Brian Wentzlaff led a discussion about sustainability – and what we can all do at home to achieve it – in the hostel's Fog Signal building.
Like HI-San Francisco Downtown, HI-Portland Hawthorne also held a screening of "The Day After Peace." After the film, the hostel hosted a dinner and discussion about the movie for guests and members of the community. To keep the conversation going, hostel staff led guests later in the evening on a crawl to several local breweries.
Visit the United Nations' website to learn more about International Day of Peace, and head over to the HI-USA website for more information on how our hostels all over the country supported peace on September 21.