LIFE UNDER THE DOME |
Excerpts from Nishkian Essays
To be honest, when I came to I-House, I had little curiosity and was overwhelmed and scared by the multitude of cultures. Like many people from my little island country, I saw others as foreign to me. That I could be a foreigner to somebody else had never occurred to me.
How strange then to realize that I was suddenly the first English person that a Palestinian had ever met. As I walked along the sand, he said, “You are so self-confident and that is how all English people are.”
Suddenly, I was not just viewing others but being viewed myself. “How awful if he were to think that all English people are like me,” I thought. He seemed to be delighted by my Anglo Saxon appearance as it was exactly how he thought English people should look. As I began to explain that many different nationalities live in England, he looked surprised. I suddenly realized that I was not just a cultural ambassador but a teacher. In the same way, all the images I had of his country came from television screens filled with people running from a bombing or from pictures of the Holy Land. I did not take him as representative of how all Palestinians must be but as a unique individual. In thinking about me, he had accidentally shown me a way to think about him.
—Alice Coghlan, Ireland
I did not think that I-House would be very different from my university. Time has proven how wrong I was and how different I-House is from everything I have ever experienced in my life before. The couple of months here helped me to get rid of my stereotypes, to grasp in reality the ideas that were presented to me in theories during my anthropology lectures, to understand my religion and to value my Polish identity fully. And most importantly, it made me a different person, a braver citizen of the world-wide community who believes that dreams do come true.
—Julia Zamorska, Poland
The I-House has taught me a lot about living with others or, it’s fair to say, about living. The I-House brings together people from different walks of life and people with different views and perspectives. It is in this mosaic of small worlds where different cultures collide yet coexist. Through constant interaction, a bond strengthens. For me, the I-House is an island of sanity and comfort in a sea that is graduate school, a sanctuary from the ivory tower. I could only imagine how much more important it is to someone who …does not speak English fluently or is encountering U.S. culture for the first time.
—Manolo Figallo, USA
Coming from a country where I belong to the all-happy majority, here, in I-House, I am turned into an “F-1”…I am a foreigner, a weird and different alien, like most of the people I have breakfast with every morning…but we survive! We learn to think according to what we perceive and feel and not according to what we think we know. That is the most wonderful lesson that I-House has taught me.
—Ariane Zambiras, France
When I came to I-House three years ago from New York City, I didn’t know a soul here. Now I have friends around the world whom I’ve met here. My perspective of the world has broadened while the world itself has shrunk. My roommate was from Japan, my best friend from Australia, my boyfriend from Holland, and my next-door neighbor from Colombia.
My International House experience was undoubtedly the most incredible, influential, and memorable time of my life. Here, I fell in love for the first time. I learned to truly depend on people...and to share a part of myself in return. I also learned never to really say goodbye to my I-House friends because, as the world is shrinking, I know our paths will cross again.
—Michelle Khine, USA