City Stay is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that sparks unlikely connections across the dividing lines of our community through experiential education. City Stay applies an innovative approach to education and community building by pairing Minnesota high-school students of all backgrounds with host families who identify as a part of an immigrant community for a homestay program. More broadly, the relationships City Stay facilitates reduce community mistrust and social inequality in the Twin Cities. These connections serve as an ongoing tool to build a more informed and connected community that fosters intercultural understanding in an increasingly diverse world.
Our primary program lasts one week and is available to high school students, college students, and adult professionals. During the day, participants engage in dynamic dialogues with a wide range of presenters from the immigrant communities of Minnesota. Topics include urban studies, immigration and the cultures of the Twin Cities. In the evening, participants live with a local family from another culture. The heart of this program is the homestay component. Participants of all backgrounds build meaningful and informative relationships with carefully-matched local families in the Latino, Somali, or Hmong communities.
In addition to the primary program, City Stay also offers workshops that help enhance cultural competency around the largest immigrant populations in Minnesota. In this capacity, we primarily serve educators, social service and healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and students.
City Stay provides experiential education that breaks down barriers and sparks unlikely connections between the diverse cultural communities of the Twin Cities.
- Foster meaningful and lasting relationships between people of diverse backgrounds
- Prepare the next generation to live and lead in a multi-cultural world
- Share the cultural richness of the newest Minnesotans with a wide audience
- Reduce community mistrust and social inequality by facilitating dialogue, study, and action
“Definitely much more than I expected! So well planned, so many connections with new community leaders and other resources. This has refocused both my personal and professional life.”
“[City Stay] opened me up to new cultures like never before. I was outside my comfort zone for nearly the whole time, and it introduced me to new ways of life, culture, and religion. My most valuable experience was staying with a Somali family. It showed me how similar and different we all are. I’m so glad I participated in City Stay, it opened my eyes, gave me great experiences, and introduced me to wonderful people.”
“[City Stay] is very refreshing and unique. I like how it pushes you out of your comfort zone by placing you directly with groups of people you would not normally talk to… My Hmong family is extremely caring and generous. They are really willing to share their experience and knowledge with me. I would love to have a long-term relationship with them… [City Stay] is one of my most memorable experiences. For an international student like me, it is a cultural experience within a cultural experience. I gained more knowledge of the people of Minnesota in this one week than in the year and a half I had already spent in Minnesota. It raised my attention to the uniqueness of every single one of the cultures, including my own.”
“I previously had little to no interaction with people of these cultures we learned from. I was previously completely ignorant of the cultural makeup of the Twin Cities and I now have a greater understanding of who lives here and a desire to connect with my neighbors of a different culture. Thank you for deepening my cultural understanding of the Twin Cities. I see this experience as a launching pad for me.”
“I appreciated the variety of experiences. It whet my appetite to learn more. [The program] taught me to ask questions. It’s something I do in other parts of my life all the time, but not of other cultures. I always thought me questioning would show ignorance or be offensive. It was such a valuable experience!”
“The experimental nature of the program was so rich and kept us so engaged. The structure of the program was broad, deep, and made sense. [The program connected us with] resources out there for immigrants, and created the possibility for real connections this week and ongoing with the Twin Cities’ diverse cultures. The visits to the Somali and Hmong malls were like stepping into their worlds. Unforgettable. I’m leaving this class much more aware of the histories of my Mexican, Somali and Hmong students, parents and neighbors.”
“[The program presented] an opportunity to connect with people of different cultures that I would not have on a daily basis. It was really well done. Thanks for helping me out of my comfort zone and inspiring me to learn and experience more.”
“City Stay does relevant work at a time we need it most. Sharing food and stories with our actual geographical neighbors who may come from a different area of the world and may practice a different religion is nothing short of revolutionary. These boundary crossings change hearts and minds. It is peacemaking at its best. Seeing the host families and birth families share food and stories at the end of the program potluck was such a powerful testament to the work that City Stay does. It is profound in its simplicity. Sit together. Eat. Laugh. Meet your neighbor. It the work we are called to do. The youth at Bethlehem walked away from their City Stay experience with a renewed interest in the Twin Cities backed by ignited curiosity about race, culture, politics, neighborhoods and power. The relationships they built will inform the choices they make from here on out. For all of this, we are grateful that City Stay exists and are thrilled to continue to partner with them.”