Cultural Experience | New York City

HI Hostel Great Hostel Giveback Experience in The Big Apple


Laughter, Fun and Giving Back in New York City

College Tourist’s own Nina Truong headed to NYC along with Kean U Students to take part in the HI Hostel Great Hostel Giveback this January.  Nina’s experience is featured on HI Hostel here.  For more about Tandieka’s experience read on.

On January 30th I and two fellow students of Kean University Alanderson Meira and Terrence Barone volunteered to participate in HI USA’s annual Great Hostel Give Back Program.What I didn’t know then was with my agreement would come one of my most memorable experiences I would have since coming here as an international student from Guyana.
What is the Great Hostel Give Back Program?
The Great Hostel Give Back Program (GHBP) has been running for 5 years and offers groups across the country free overnight stays at HI USA hostels in January and February. Qualifying groups of 10 or more people are eligible to receive one free night’s stay (up to five nights) at an HI USA hostel for every two hours spent volunteering in the local community.

The HI NYC Hostel

Organized for us by the collaborative effort of HI Hostel USA and the College Tourist , Friday January 30th saw us braving the frigid cold to check in to our co-ed rooms at the hostel located in NYC. Hostelling was a new experience for me. It was the first time I had ever stayed in a hostel and more so, a co-ed room. I went with anxious expectations of what the night would be like for us before volunteering at the Emergency Food Program at the Steven Wise Synagogue in the morning.
The HI USA NYC Hostel was everything I did not expect it to be, the building itself held a historical charm with modern facilities that were in excellent condition. The planned group activities posted on the quaint blackboard wall added fun and excitement to the atmosphere of the hostel and made you want to participate in the activities regardless of if you knew anybody. Unfortunately the brutal cold kept us in doors that evening from the planned group activity. Instead we resorted to having a few good laughs into the wee hours of the morning with our roommates Nina Truong, College Tourist and Travel Ambassador from Emory College and a mysterious Asian gentleman who added to the humor of the evening despite not knowing us “college kids” . By the time we fell asleep that morning I had fostered a strong friendship with my fellow schoolmates that would never had happened had we not been in that room together.

The Emergency Food Program

Volunteering on Saturday morning at the Steven Wise synagogue for the Emergency Food Program was the Trump card of this entire experience. We made it just in time to join the assembly line of individuals who are members of the synagogue and who have been volunteering there for the past 20 years. Their services include meeting every Saturday to provide food hampers and hot chocolate to the homeless and less fortunate. Unfortunately the brutal cold kept some of the “regulars” away but it was great to observe and interact with those who came. I felt inspired by the homeless and needy and their sheer will power to survive. My fellow classmates and I were humbled and grateful for the opportunity. After leaving the synagogue we continued to explore NYC and seized our reward of all it has to offer. After all, giving in a selfless way energized us for time to come.

-Written by Kean Union Global MBA Student Tandieka Johnson

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