Celebrating I-House Birthdays

International House NYC was founded in the autumn of 1924 and ever since every autumn, alumni around the world hold I-House Days to get together and celebrate its founding. Last year there were 21 events in 13 countries and the NYC alumni team are busy connecting with alumni to schedule this year’s events.

The NYC I-House alumni association was started by Harry Edmond’s secretary in 1925 and as Berkeley and Chicago opened it also covered those Houses too. Back in those days they published a little booklet with alumni information in, which was effectively your passport to friendly alumni around the globe. Eventually as the years ticked by and the number of alumni grew, each House started to look after its own alumni. The NYC alumni association grew to a point when in its hey day there were 100 active chapters around the world. To find out what is planned for 2019 visit https://www.ihouse-nyc.org/news_events/ihouseday/ I hope that we can expand the number of events from last year and get even more alumni involved as we get another year closer to the 100th anniversary in 2024.

Berkeley I-House Steps 1931

Meanwhile Berkeley I-House is celebrated its 89th birthday on August 18th and is adding alumni stories to its history pages. http://ihouse.berkeley.edu/stories/

I-House University Alberta founded 4th September 2004

Newer to the International Houses World Wide family is I-House Alberta, which is celebrating its 15th Birthday with an event on the 8th of September. Sadly I cannot attend in person but I am very honoured to have been asked by Leslie Weigl, their current Director, to speak by video link to the students. We are keeping fingers crossed that the technology will work. Alberta welcomes about 150 students a year, from over 40 countries and whilst it is smaller than many other I-Houses has a very active programme and works hard to make it a home away for home for its residents. https://www.ualberta.ca/global-education/international-house

Also celebrating this year is the International House in Romania, Westgate Studios. It is celebrating 10 years since it was inaugurated. It is the largest House in the International Houses World Wide family, being home to around 800 residents. I am very much hoping to visit it soon https://www.westgatestudios.ro/despre-noi

As I have reflected before keeping an International House running effectively takes a brilliant team who attract a diverse set of residents from as many corners of the world as possible and enable them to create international friendships whilst sharing their cultures. I am grateful to every one of those team members for all their work and passion to carry on what Harry and Florence started.


This scarf of New York landmarks including the Statue of Liberty belonged to my grandmother, Harry Edmonds’ middle daughter Margaret. Sadly, even though she had grown up at International House and was surrounded by Harry and Florence’s ethos of tolerance, my memories of her are of someone who had very set views on who she would and would not tolerate, to the point of being uncomfortable and embarrassing. Her influence on me, if any, has been that I determined to be curious and interested in people no matter their background, religion or country of origin. I am however curious about what it is that either encourages us to be tolerant or to choose to be fixed in our views. I will never know what the switch was in my grandmother, but I do believe that International House allows for that exploration and hopefully residents are touched with a new level of tolerance as they go out into the world.

Joe Lurie kindly shared his informal history of I-House Berkeley with me again last week and as I was reading it I was struck by the piece about an amazing lady Delilah Beasley who was a black journalist on the Oakland Tribune in the 1930s. There was a great deal of protest at the House being built and the idea of having somewhere where people of all nationalities and races and both men and women living was very controversial. Delilah was never a resident of the House but she turned up when there was a big protest (c800 people) and passionately advocated the need to let the House be built. She also took on the local property developers who were unhappy about the House going up. She was in my view a champion of tolerance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delilah_L._Beasley