100,000 Grains of Sand Tour by the great-granddaughter of Harry Edmonds, founder of I-House

About 53 years ago in 1966, founder of International House Harry Edmonds embarked on a 104-day tour of 22 different International Houses worldwide. His travels took him all across the United States from New York, to California, to Hawaii. He also traveled to multiple countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Now, his great-granddaughter Alice Lewthwaite set out to retrace his steps to revitalize the mission of International Houses Worldwide. She also hoped to collect stories from the almost 100,000 New York City I-House alumni for the house’s 100-year celebration.

This trip is of great emotional importance for Alice, as she hoped that following in her great-grandfather’s footsteps will help her better understand his life. She never met her great-grandfather in person, but after coming across articles about him in 2008, she was inspired to learn more about his mission. To do that, Alice planned to travel to 22 International Houses starting in New York on January 4th and ending there again on March 10th. During that time, Alice traveled to cities including Berkeley, Lahaina, Honolulu, Tokyo, Taipei, Manila, Hong-Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, Mumbai, Beirut, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen, London, and Chicago. She connected with alumni in each location to hear about their experiences and to further understand her great-grandfather’s legacy.

That legacy began in 1909 when Harry Edmonds, Alice's great-grandfather, first met a Chinese student at the Columbia University library. Edmonds greeted him, to which the student replied, “Thank you for talking with me. You are the first person who has spoken to me since arriving here.” Recognizing the importance of helping international students feel welcome in the United States, Edmonds decided to invite a small group of international students to his home for dinner on a Sunday afternoon. As Edmonds’ dream of building community spaces for international and American students blossomed, John D. Rockefeller Jr. rose to the occasion and donated to build International Houses in New York, Chicago, Berkeley, and Paris. Keeping with the theme of global connections, the inscription “May Brotherhood Prevail” stands out prominently above the main door to the NYC International House, as Rockefeller requested. With her tour, Alice is continuing that tradition of brotherhood by traveling around the world to engage with International House alumni from numerous countries. She hopes to ‘pass the light on’ of understanding, tolerance and international friendship.

You can follow Alice's progress as she travels to the 22 International Houses by signing up for the I-House Chicago email newsletter or following us on social media. We hope you enjoy watching Alice's journey unfold!

Why 100,000 Grains of Sand? 

Alice Lewthwaite's Journey

Thursday, January 3: Walking in Harry & Florence footsteps – visiting where it all began – UC I-House alumni welcome

Friday, January 4: Visits I-House New York, NY

Sunday, January 6: Visits I-House Berkeley, CA – UC I-House alumni welcome but spaces are limited so registration is essential

Wednesday, January 9: Visits I-House alumni in Lahaina, HI

Thursday, January 10: Dinner in Honolulu, HI

Sunday, January 13: Visits I-House Japan in Tokyo

Wednesday, January 16: Taipei – Dinner at Howard Hotel – UC I-House welcome

Sunday, January 20: Manila – Brunch at Early Bird Breakfast Club BGC with a Notable Alumni of I-House Sydney, Prof. Virginia Teodosio – UC I-House alumni welcome

Wednesday, January 23: Hong Kong- Apinara Thai Cuisine at the Pacific Place – UC I-House alumni welcome, registration essential

Sunday, January 27: Bangkok – lunch location TBC – UC I-House alumni welcome

Thursday, January 31: High Tea at University of Chicago Centre in Delhi – UC I-House alumni welcome, registration essential

Saturday, February 2: Mumbai – Dinner in South Mumbai – UC I-House alumni welcome

Thursday, February 7: Beirut- Meets with the President of the American University & event at Garage 664 – UC I-House alumni welcome, registration essential

Saturday, February 9: Istanbul – Brunch – UC I-House alumni welcome

Wednesday, February 13: Athens – Dinner – UC I-House alumni welcome

Saturday, February 16: Rome

Thursday, February 21: Visits Maison International at Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris and dinner – UC I-House alumni welcome, registration essential

Saturday, February 23: Berlin

Tuesday, February 26: Stockholm – Dinner – UC I-House alumni welcome

Thursday, February 28: Oslo – Dinner – UC I-House alumni welcome

Saturday, March 2: Helsinki- Afternoon tea at Ekberg 1852 Café – UC I-House welcome

Monday, March 4: Copenhagen – Dinner – UC I-House alumni welcome

Wednesday, March 6: London- Visits Goodenough College

Saturday, March 9: Visits I-House at University of Chicago, IL

Sunday, March 10: Visits I-House New York, NY


Follow Alice Lewthwaite's journey through her blog or Facebook page.

A newsletter clipping from Harry Edmond's original trip when he was in Japan

Graeme de Graaff, director of International House at the University of Sydney, and Harry Edmonds at the 50th anniversary of I-House New York, NY, 1977