Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cultural Kitchen

Last night the kitchen of the HI-Chicago hostel was buzzing with activity. Twelve middle schoolers from Centro Romero came to cook Spanish cuisine for ten lucky travelers as a part of the Cultural Kitchen program.

Cultural Kitchen is a six-part classroom program in which students study a country, create presentations on a specific aspect of that country, and finally cook a meal and stay in the hostel for one night. The program allows children who normally do not meet people from other cultures to step out of their comfort zone and interact with travelers.

The students made spicy potatoes, paella, gazpacho, and baked bananas, all traditional dishes from Spain. While the food was cooking, the students introduced themselves to some hostellers to fill out “traveler bingo” cards that featured questions such as “Have you ever been scuba diving? Where?” to serve as ice-breakers. After the delicious feast, the students each presented information on Spain, covering topics such as its geography, system of government, sports, and (of course) cuisine. A few of the students were dubious when they first heard they would have to do a project over the summer for Cultural Kitchen, but they all enjoyed the program immensely! One girl said, “…it was fun at the hostel and I want to come back soon. We learned a lot about Spain’s sports, culture, and food. I learned how to not be shy in front of people and talk to them. I hope we come back soon to have fun cooking, playing games, and to talk to people from other cultures and countries.”

The HI-Chicago hostel hosts many educational programs like Cultural Kitchen throughout the year and reaches over 1500 local students, promoting respect and understanding of diverse cultures.


Connie said...

This is a wonderful hostel and I think it's great they do these programs!

Hostelling International Chicago said...

Thank you for your comment, Connie! Our wonderful cultural education programs are just one of the things that make us a unique and special hostel. We're glad you noticed. ;)