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Couchsurfing Social + Intercambio, Mendoza

Outline

Following the successes of my time in Lincoln, after moving to Mendoza, Argentina, I began to organise a weekly social meeting as part of the international platform Couchsurfing, to provide an opportunity for local residents and travellers to meet, practice languages, chat, and share travel experiences.

The events, held every Thursday, were organised as an informal ‘language exchange’ for those wishing to practise, free of charge, a second language in a casual, relaxed format. With a willing number of locals wishing to learn and improve their English, and a constant English-speaking tourist population willing to improve their Spanish, all that was left was to bring together an equal number of each side.

The organisation of the group required the design of logos and promotional material, as well as the regular maintenance of event calendars, profiles, and social media accounts.

Date

March 14, 2010

Context

Founded in 2003, Couchsurfing is an international platform which allows visitors to a city to meet and stay with locals by sending a personal request to local members or ‘hosts’ from their individual member profile. Couchsurfing is a platform with the ethos of the ‘gift economy’, and is based on the idea that people are generally kind. Unlike similar accommodation platforms such as AirBnb, hosts are not permitted to charge for their hosting. Instead guests or ‘surfers’ can offer to cook a meal, or pay a drink to return the favour of the accommodation. Sometimes a simple conversation is more than enough. The system works on a positive reference basis, in which members receive positive references as they host, stay and share with others. This creates original trust between members who have never met before.

Aside from its signature ‘hosting/ surfing’ function, Couchsurfing has expanded to include ‘events’, allowing members to organise events in the local community, and ‘hangouts’, a function that allows you to locate and meet other members in a local setting.

As such, Couchsurfing has the ability to bring people together in a new way, which never formerly existed. For this reason, every large city around the world now has its own community of members. The community, aside from the obvious opportunity to meet and share with others while travelling, also works to break the isolation felt by many, especially internationals, in foreign cities, to provide greater ‘inclusion’ for all. Those who move to a new city for work can often feel isolated in a community which is not their own. The application allows anybody, regardless of nationality to meet together with local and others from outside, a make friendships without creating an isolated expat community which fights integration into the local population. The benefit of working in a larger city is that there is always a willing community of subscribers to the events. With a larger visitor population too, the potential for organising a cultural and language exchanges is made easier.

As a volunteer head of the group in Mendoza, I organised weekly socials, and weekend events for the local community. For each new event, I produced the branding and promotional material, and updated social media websites to attract interest.

Gallery

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