The aroma of foreign foods filled the air as the College’s International House opened its doors to the rest of the campus for its first public event, “A Trip around the World,” last Wednesday night.
In an attempt to raise awareness of the presence of the I-House (as it is commonly referred to), students from around the world prepared food, played music and shared experiences from their homelands.
As an increasing number of foreign exchange students reside at the College, ResLife and the Center for Global Engagement have collaborated to create the I-House, located in Townhouses South, as a way to integrate them into campus life.
With 30 students in total, the I-House mixes international students together with domestic College students, promoting a cultural exchange they believe will benefit everyone.
“Domestic students and international students live together and learn each other’s culture at the same time,” said Curtis Chan, the residence director of the townhouses. “We like to achieve that kind of diversity and sense of multiculturalism for the students.”
Though a portion of domestic students on campus are very aware of the foreign presence, the I-House feels that it has not yet fully established itself at the College.
“A Trip around the World” is its first attempt at reaching out to students who might not realize the opportunities that the I-House provides.
“We’re trying to show the rest of the campus that there is an I-House,” said Leah Antil, the program director for the I-House. “There are international students here and they have so much they can teach you and so much they want to learn.”
Exchange students from Thailand, Germany, Australia, Japan and France spent Wednesday night offering a glimpse into the cultures that they have temporarily left behind.
Foods included crepes from France, potato salad from Germany, noodles from Japan, slices of warm pumpkin in coconut milk from Thailand and vegemite — a paste made from yeast extract — on toast from Australia.
With their authentic cuisine, vibrant music and a bevy of firsthand experience and information, the international students can certainly claim that they have something to offer the campus.
They are quick, however, to point out that they gain a lot as well.
“While I’m here, I think I’m growing up more and more,” said T.J. Jantunyarux, a 19-year-old Thai exchange student. “In Thailand I have a lot to do, but over here, the class is (less time consuming) and the atmosphere especially lets me think more.”
Jantunyarux is just one of many foreign students who expressed that they relish the time they are spending in the U.S.
As these exchange students come and go every semester, they leave an impact on the College by bringing contrasting values and philosophies into an environment that is eager to work with them.
As the I-House expands its reach, it is becoming a valuable source of cultural growth on campus.
“I think that the International House is a great program,” Chan said. “It is very useful for students to get used to the world globalism.”