|In the wake of the horrific attacks in New York and Washington D.C., Chancellor Berdahl quoted H.G. Wells in a message to the campus community: "History is a race between education and catastrophe." And in times of international crisis, education is perhaps best spurred on in a place like International House.
With its 580 students and scholars from 80 countries and 25 U.S. states, the House provides an opportunity to share opinions and to test one's assumptions. Learning to coexist in a community that reflects differences and newly discovered commonalities provides precious hope in these troubling times.
In recent weeks, when students and scholars gathered to watch televised reports, the intensity and the pain of their reactions was palpable, as was their appreciation of support from this international community.
Like many of them, I draw inspiration from the residents you'll see featured in this newsletter. I join with Helen Boyle (Under the Dome...) who wishes the world's future leaders could live at International House so that "...putting a human face to previously unknown cultures and countries..." might help to counter the injustice of stereotyping based on appearance, accent or birthplace.
Program Coordinators, Tanvir Singh Sandhu, originally from Kenya and now a US citizen (at left), and Raj Patel from the US (at right) prepare to welcome residents with Joe Lurie.
|Times of crisis test our international community. We face the potential for becoming divided. We also have the special potential to understand each other, to hear many interpretations of events, many interpretations of history, many interpretations of the meaning of religions.
The simple, compelling secret of I-House is that living together permits people from different backgrounds to experience each other first and foremost as individual human beings, not as caricatures formed by political or religious conflict and fervor.
As I-House alumnus, Dean Richard Newton states so eloquently, "We must truly seize this opportunity to work together and create a better world, a world that has a welcoming place for all, and not a world filled with creed and dogma, with generalization and hate."
The House mission of fostering friendship across cultures reminds me of a lovely New Zealand Maori proverb, "Unless the heart sees, the mind will never see." The friendships of the heart forged across national, religious, racial, and economic lines are what makes I-House more than ever a source of inspiration. It is what makes I-House a force for good in the battle against ignorance, intolerance, and bigotry.