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50th Anniversary of Community Visits

The first Community Visit sponsored by the Redding Rotary in 1952 was the beginning of a lasting friendship between Rotary and International House and provided the inspiration for other visits. Many Rotary Clubs now host annual Community Visits to help international students understand American life beyond Berkeley.

A visit to the Record-Searchlight Newspaper in Redding was a highlight of the first Rotary Community Visit in 1952.

The Redding and Anderson Rotary Clubs host Berkeley international students every year during spring break. Trips include a tour of Shasta Dam, skiing, a boat ride on Lake Shasta, and square dancing. Thanks to the Walnut Creek Rotary Club, students enjoyed "A Day in American Farm Country" in September. In October, The Paradise Rotary hosted a weekend in the foothills with special thanks to I-House alumnus, Art Layton, who established this program. The St. Helena Rotary hosts a day at local wineries and the Culinary Institute of America. Livermore Rotary sponsors a weekend visit that includes the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a local winery.

Yasmin Lambie-Simpson, who coordinates the visits, notes, "The Community Visits are a great way for international students to get a broader view of the US than they see in Berkeley. They are amazed by the generous hospitality of the Rotary families who really enjoy sharing their communities with students."

International students enjoyed a tour of the Redding Lumber Mill.

International House and Rotary have strong links. The Rotary Foundation selected UC Berkeley to host one of the seven Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace in Conflict Resolution. The first class of World Peace Scholars arrived in August to study at Berkeley while living at International House (see article above). Rotary brought the International House concept to Australia and helped establish several International Houses. Rotary also helped found the International House at the University of British Columbia where international students also enjoy Rotary-sponsored community trips.

Allen Blaisdell, Executive Director from 1928 to 1961, recalled close ties with Rotary that included funding for Sunday Suppers in the Student Union before the House was built. He also noted that Rotary's international exchange program was, in part, shaped at I-House in the 1930s.


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