Songs of Hope™ is housed in a dormitory at the University of Saint Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. The project rents the facilities and is not affiliated with the University and has no religious affiliation. Rather, Songs of Hope™ is an entirely nonprofit project of Sounds of Hope, Ltd., a Minnesota arts organization.
The beautiful urban campus of UST is located about halfway between the city centers of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which are commonly known as the Twin Cities.Three to four participants, from different cultures and/or countries, share a suite consisting of bedroom, bathroom, and living room. Each suite is equipped with 4 beds, 2 large dressers, a sofa, chairs, lamps, tables, small refrigerator, 4 desks with chairs, and a large closet, as well as a bathtub, shower, 2 sinks, and a toilet. With the help of staff, roommates may arrange their rooms as they choose.
In each room, there is a Big Sister or Big Brother, who is a ComeBack Kid (that is, a returning participant). Together, the roommates are responsible for keeping their room suite clean and doing their own laundry, with the help of staff. There are daily clean-room checks and weekly cleaning days, with very competitive prizes given for the cleanest suite of the week (the prestigious Steady Light Award), the best clean of a suite on cleaning day (One Time Shine Award), the best décor (House Beautiful Award), and others.
Boys and girls are housed on separate floors. Staff members and international Adult Companions are also housed on the participants’ floors to provide close supervision and needed help.
Meals are a communal experience, with all staff and participants taking turns helping with aspects of meal preparation, clean-up, and dishwashing, Special meals introduce participants to food from many of the Songs of Hope™ countries. The project truly aspires to create a large international family, and meals become an important, shared activity of the community!