By Rena Slavin
The story of International House dates back to 1909, when Harry C. Edmonds, a YMCA official, encountered a Chinese graduate student on the steps of the Columbia University Library in New York. He greeted the student, who replied by thanking Edmonds for being the first person to speak to him in the three weeks he had been at Columbia. This chance meeting opened Edmonds’ eyes to the difficulties faced by international students in American universities. As a result, he and his wife began inviting students to their home on Sunday afternoons. The tradition of the Sunday Supper with international students quickly outgrew the Edmonds’ residence and led them to expand with the generous support of the Cleveland H. Dodge family. Further support from John D. Rockefeller began with a speaking engagement at a Sunday Supper in December of 1920 and culminated in the construction of the first International House in New York City, which opened its doors in 1924. Given the success of the New York House, Edmonds and Rockefeller decided to expand the organization to other American cities with large international student populations. The second House in Berkeley, California opened in 1930, followed by the International House of Chicago in 1932.
Over the last 86 years, International House of Chicago has continued to uphold its mission of enabling students and scholars from around the world to live and learn together in a diverse community that builds lifelong qualities of leadership, respect, and friendship. International House also serves the greater Chicago community as a cultural and intellectual center for a wide array of programs. Over 200 public programs are held each year, including music and cultural performances, outreach programs with Chicago-area international organizations, collaborations with foreign consulates, language exchanges and discussions, and forums and debates led by distinguished guest speakers through the Global Voices Performing Arts and Lecture Series. The role of International House of Chicago is more important now than ever: to make an impact in the international marketplace of ideas, Chicago students and scholars must be engaged with ideas and approaches from around the world. International House, as “Host to the World” affords them the opportunity to do so, while also contributing to the intellectual and cultural fabric of the greater Chicago community.
The 2018 Founder’s Day Celebration will be held in partnership with the Latinx Student Association and Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee, a group of students and staff from the Harris School of Public Policy, the School of Social Service Administration, and the Booth School of Business. With an Inclusive Climate grant from the University of Chicago Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, the Committee aims to develop an inaugural, university-wide Latinx Heritage celebration which will lay the foundation for annual programming in the future. The event will celebrate the invaluable and innumerable contributions of the Latinx diaspora, unify the growing UChicago Latinx community, and incorporate the broader Latinx population of Chicago. The Committee hopes that through this program, the University will continue to be a clear, committed voice in celebrating Latinx scholars and students.
The entertainment for this year’s Founder’s Day and Latinx Heritage Month Celebration will be curated by ¡Pachanga!, Chicago’s premier Latin Dance Party, and will feature a live band, a DJ, vendors, and interactive experiences. Collaborating with various Chicago institutions including Navy Pier and the Chicago World Music Festival, ¡Pachanga! explores independent music from the Midwest and discovers new talent from across the country. Attendees can sample foods from across Latin America, dance to a variety of music from Salsa to Afro-Cuban, and have fun with a mobile photo booth. And of course, there will be Founder’s Day birthday cake to commemorate another year of international friendship and public programming at International House.
International House Founder’s Day Presents: UChicago Latinx Heritage Month Celebration will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the International House Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St. The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the International House Global Voices Program, Latinx Students Association, and the UChicago Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee. For more information about other Global Voices Events and co-sponsorship opportunities, or for persons with disabilities who may require assistance, please contact Mary Beth DeStefano, associate director of the International House Office of Programs and External Relations at 773-753-2274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.