…and that I gave a rousing speech to the packed crowd at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting, alongside the Mayor of Boston!
Here is the text of my speech.
Hello, my name is Lillie Marshall, and I am a 30-year old Boston Public Schools teacher. Any guesses how many nights of my life I have stayed in a hostel?
(Dramatic pause for guesses.)
I have stayed more than 100 nights of my life in hostels around the world, spanning 5 different continents.
Here’s why: After five years of teaching in Boston, I took a leave of absence to travel around the world from 2009 to 2010.
And a major secret to affordable travel is… hostels.
Now, raise your hand if you’re ever heard these misconceptions about hostels:
“Hostels are just for young people.”
Well, I am here to tell you that these are NOT TRUE. Let me tell you a story to illustrate that hostelling is the key to safe, inexpensive, wonderful travel.
Who here has ever traveled to China? What about China in the summertime?
(A few audience members raise their hands, laughing and shaking their heads in remembrance of the heat.)
It was August of 2011. I’d been traveling through central China for a week in the sticky, 95-degree heat, staying not in hostels, but with local friends… and I was sick as a dog.
As I staggered off the bus into Shanghai, I was jostled by the thousands of people in the street. Cars and mopeds honked and nearly ran me over, my fever was swirling, and the neon lights and thick smells assaulted my face. My money was running low, and I couldn’t read signs to get to a bank.
Thankfully, before leaving the U.S. I had used Hostelling International’s website to pre-book a room in Shanghai’s Blue Mountain Hostel. I pulled the directions that the site had graciously provided out of my pocket, and praised the hazy gray sky that it was only a block from where I was.
When I walked into the Hostelling International Blue Mountain Hostel, I literally started to cry.
“Hello!” said the staff with a smile, as the air conditioning soothed my sweat-streaked face. “Welcome!” Calming music played and the halls were immaculately clean and decorated with useful tourist information.
My comfortable, clean bed was $10 a night.
I was only supposed to stay for a night, but I extended my booking for a whole week.
A hostel is an international world– a haven– unlike anywhere else, and I challenge you not to smile, sitting in the cheery communal cafe with people of all ages from around the world, swapping stories, reading, eating, and planning which parts of the city to visit.
Hostels are the key to seeing the world affordably, safely, and beautifully.
Now let’s talk about this New Boston Hostel.
When I left America in 2009 to travel around the world for a year, my purpose was to find a better city than Boston to live. I traveled through Asia, Africa, and Europe, and guess where I concluded is the best place on earth?
(Audience cheers: “BOSTON!”)
That’s right: Boston. I LOVE Boston, and it makes me go “Woo hoo!” whenever I see tourists walking through our amazing city.
But for decades, there’s been a problem: It’s nearly impossible to stay in Boston for less than $200 a night. In my world travels, I’ve heard numerous folks say, “I’d love to see Boston, but are there affordable places to stay?”
And thus, I say THANK YOU to this new Boston Hostel: the third largest hostel in America. This hostel is a GIFT to the travelers of the world, because they can finally tour one of the best cities on earth, affordably.
In 2011, I cried with happiness, walking into the welcoming arms of the Shanghai Hostelling International Hostel. Oh new Boston Hostel, whose life will YOU change?