1. Why City Stay?
  2. Application Requirements
  3. Participant Experience
  4. FAQS
  5. Information for Applicants


Why City Stay?

City Stay offers participants the opportunity to:

  • Explore a new community right here in the Twin Cities
  • Experience a new culture and language
  • Build meaningful relationships with families, leaders and organizations from another cultural community in the Twin Cities
  • Network with community leaders to increase connections for college or work
  • Better understand the social and cultural complexities of Minnesota.

Application Requirements

City Stay welcomes participants of all ages and backgrounds who are:

  • At least 14 years old
  • Eager to learn about a new culture and language
  • Willing to respectfully and cooperatively share space with a host family from a different culture
  • Prepared to engage in hands-on coursework on urban and cultural studies
  • In good disciplinary standing (high school students only)
  • Able to pass a criminal background check (adults only)

Participant Experience

During the day, participants engage in a hands-on investigation of who we are as a community and how we got here. Participants will gain a better understanding of the different immigrant communities in the Twin Cities, as well as the local and global histories of these communities. Special focus will be placed on the local Somali, Latino, and Hmong experience. Through personal stories, guest speaker panels, community outings, films, and readings, participants will gain a greater depth of knowledge about the different ways of life within the Twin Cities. Overall, participants will develop a more nuanced understanding of their place within the social and cultural makeup of our community.

In the evenings and over the weekend, participants live with a local family from a different culture. This time is free for participants to engage with their host families and build relationships in their new community. Families are expected to integrate participants into their daily routine. This could mean cooking or eating meals together, cleaning or shopping together, or attending family gatherings or community events. Visits to a participant’s home neighborhood are discouraged, but determined on an individual basis. Each participant meets with their assigned program liaison multiple times over the course of the week to discuss concerns or challenges they might be facing in the classroom or at home. Shared or partnered homestays are available, in which two participants live with the same host family.

Participants live in proximity to one another as possible to facilitate easier transportation to program activities. If need be, City Stay liaisons will assist participants in learning public transportation routes. Some host families will be able to provide rides for participants, and some participants may choose to bring their own vehicle to their new home. Carefully screened program volunteers are available to provide rides for participants should they need transportation after dark that host families are unable to provide.


Can I see my family during the program? Can I have a job and still be part of City Stay?

Yes. At City Stay, we aim to fill a void by offering the opportunity for intercultural exchange to participants who otherwise might not be able to participate. We want to invite a new body of participants into the conversation of intercultural education. We are open to making accommodations that would enable anyone to participate. However, we believe the most transformative student experiences come from full immersion in the program. Visits home can distract from the City Stay experience. The program lasts only one week, and we want participants to take advantage of every minute to connect with their host community. Nonetheless, we understand the importance of family and financial commitments, and we want all participants to feel welcome to participate in City Stay.

If it is necessary for you to work or attend to family obligations during the program, please indicate this on your application. We will discuss your commitments in an interview after we receive your application. At that point, we can arrange a mutual agreement that will allow you to fulfill your obligations and make the most of City Stay.

Do I need to have experience with the language or culture of the community I choose to study?

No. City Stay simply requires that students demonstrate a willingness to learn and keep an open mind when dealing with cultural and linguistic differences.

Is City Stay safe?

Absolutely. All host families must pass City Stay’s rigorous screening process. They submit an application, pass a thorough reference and background check, and complete an in-home interview. City Stay’s host families are recruited at schools, community centers, and non-profits; as a result, our families are composed of civically engaged and reputable community members. Host families also complete an orientation to ensure their familiarization with our high standards for their treatment of participants.

Each participant meets regularly with a City Stay liaison to explore any concerns and discuss the quality of the student experience. The liaison visits the student at their host family’s house to ensure a safe, clean, and welcoming environment. If any concerns arise, the liaison will communicate immediately with the host family, the director, and the participant to resolve the situation.

Can I get academic credit for City Stay?

Not at this time.

Information for Applicants

Click here to apply online now. Applications for our programs in 2016 are institiution-specific and not open to the general public. If your school or group is interested in creating a program, contact Director Julie Knopp at or at 651.238.7736 with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!