Cultural Kitchen. Educational Programs

Program Overview

Chicago-area students connect to the world through participation in Hostelling International Chicago’s Cultural Kitchen program. Through an engaging curriculum, students gain cultural understanding, increase understanding of their world, and enhance research skills as they study a country of their choice. To ensure the success of Cultural Kitchen, HI Chicago’s Education Coordinator, Michelle Aldridge, partners with motivated teachers seeking to provide their students with a quality experiential education opportunity. Learning comes alive when students spend time downtown at HI Chicago, cook a traditional meal from their focus country, dine with world travelers, and deliver their research presentation to an international audience. Students experience the world of travel by spending the night at the hostel and the following morning is spent together in reflection of their experience before returning to their school.

Meeting a Need

The Cultural Kitchen program meets a need in our globalized world, as students need to gain proficiency in intercultural interaction as they move from high school to college and the work-force. Through greater understanding of, and appreciation for different cultures, students become more caring world citizens. Upon completion of the Cultural Kitchen program, students:

  • Strengthen their ability to communicate positively and effectively with others
  • Practice and improve their ability to work as a team
  • Become open minded and respectful of different people and cultures
  • Enhance research and presentation skills
  • Experience the world of hostelling and travel while meeting people from around the world
  • Complete one of the three Service Learning projects required for graduation

Here is a short video highlighting the Cultural Kitchen program, as featured on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.

Powerful Outcomes

“Being in the Cultural Kitchen program opened my eyes about other cultures. It taught me that you have to be open minded when you meet people from different backgrounds than yours. We are all different people, but if we are understanding about other people we can become a better, more peaceful world.” Araceli D, Hancock High School student

“Cultural Kitchen is a remarkable opportunity for students to experience the world in Chicago. Students practice hospitality and demonstrate their learning about the world with international travelers at HI Chicago. It’s a great recipe for active learning and promoting international understanding.” Jon Schmidt, Former Chicago Public Schools Service Learning Manager

“My students were able to experience people, customs, and activities that they never would have been exposed to but for this phenomenal, one-of-a-kind program.” Heather Parker, Chicago Public School Teacher

Opening Minds for 16 Years

Cultural Kitchen has been a signature program at HI Chicago since the hostel opened its doors in 2000. The hostel partners with over 20 teachers to deliver the curriculum at over 20 schools each year. Local community based organization leaders also work with the hostel to bring Cultural Kitchen to their youth. The following is a list of our past partners schools and organizations.

  • Alternatives, Inc.
  • Amundsen High School
  • Bogan High School
  • Centro Romero
  • Christopher House
  • Curie High School
  • Gage Park High School
  • Hancock High School
  • Juarez High School
  • Kelly High School
  • King High School
  • Lindblom High School
  • Ogden International School
  • Morgan Park Academy
  • Prosser Career Academy
  • Richards Career Academy
  • Roosevelt High School
  • Schurz High School
  • South Shore High School
  • Southwest Youth Collaborative
  • St. Joseph Services
  • Taft High School

To Participate With Your Students

Cultural Kitchen is a meaningful program that takes learning outside of the classroom. The cost of the program for up to 30 students is $1,000 and includes:

  • Cultural Kitchen curriculum which meets Common Core Standards, supports the mission of International Baccalaureate, and is a recognized Service Learning program
  • Teacher training
  • Classroom visit by HI Chicago educator
  • Cultural Passport
  • Accommodation at HI Chicago for students and chaperones
  • Food for cultural dinner with world travelers facilitated by HI-Chicago educator
  • Breakfast
  • Printed photo of each participant and Cultural Kitchen scrapbook

Support Intercultural Understanding

Cultural Kitchen is a powerful educational program benefiting the youth of Chicagoland. Can you help HI Chicago reach more youth? Please consider helping with a donation or by becoming a volunteer.

For more information or to register your group, please contact:

Michelle Aldridge
Education Coordinator