Mrs Frank L Babbott was invited to join the Board of I-House NYC in 1925 and I have a copy of a letter written by her in 1974 to Howard Cook in the run up to the 75th anniversary celebrations.
She writes of a memory of one board meeting: “We were discussing the acceptance or rejection of an offer of the Gideons to put a bible in every bedroom. My naive reaction was an affirmative rely to their generosity. At that point then the Wise Ones (referring in particular to Mr. Cleveland E. Dodge and Mr. Frederick Osborn who were on the board at that time) countered with the suggestion of having re-printed excerpts from the volumes of great religion as included in Dr. Charles Elliot’s “Five Foot Book Shelf”.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics Therein lay an opportunity to prove our respect for the beliefs of others. Thereby students from non-Christian countries could feel at home among the selections from their own holy book. Because of no tinge of proselytizing the students might be more inclined to explore religions other than their one, finding likeness as well as differences. This passing recollection emphasises the constant fact that every decision was thoughtfully beamed toward international understanding”
As we move into 2019 how will your decisions over the next year be beamed towards international understanding?
Happy New Year!
With days rather than weeks before the my 100,000 Grains of Sand world tour starts I have been reflecting on the last 6 months of preparation and what I have taken from the process.
When I started planning in earnest I had no idea what the reaction to my story and plans would be. Happily it became apparent that such is the depth of imprint of time spent living in the House that my reaching out as a complete stranger to members of the community received encouraging responses back. As I started my Facebook page and gradually I moved from 10 connections to 50 then 100, I began to believe that I would find alumni to meet in each country.
As I searched for connections, I was also drawn further into the history around the different Houses and the people who have worked at the Houses over the years. This led me to reflect on how an institution like an I-House continues beyond its creation and is still thriving, in the case of the NYC House, nearly 100 years later. It is down to every resident, every person who has worked there, every donor, every trustee of the Houses that ensures Harry and Mr. Rockefeller’s vision continues. It seems to me that it is always a fine balance between staying relevant to the current age and holding true to the founding principles. The trick I believe is to really identify the essence of what makes I-House life so special and protect that. I hope to learn more about this as I meet people around the globe.
I have also spent time thinking about my motivation behind taking on this project. I know that I saw a window of opportunity that my children leaving home for school and university gave me and was in need of a project to help me transition to this new phase of parenthood. It was also about the sheer curiosity of seeing what is possible if I decided to do something and committed myself to it. More recently I have found that the idea of a personal pilgrimage has come to mind. A pilgrimage with its purpose being as a homage to Harry and Florence, my great-grandparents, and also as a quest to both understand and pass on the light of tolerance, understanding and international friendship.