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Executive Director's Message
Travels in Taiwan, Province of China

In early January, I found myself a guest of the International House in Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China, as part of a worldwide I-House leaders' conference held every two years. The conference coincided with a gathering of I-House alumni in Taiwan, Province of China, hosted by Charlene and Ming-Jeh Chien who, like so many others, began their lives together here at International House.

Charlene Chien (left)and Ming-Jeh Chien (right) chatted with I-House Board member, Beth Gordon (center), at a gathering of alumni in Taipei hosted by the Chiens.

It was an educational trip. The I-House leaders discussed topics ranging from renovations to counseling students in crisis. One subject, whether women have separate needs from men in residential settings, reminded me that I-Houses are rare in offering unisex facilities; most universities around the world use single sex quarters. And the alumni gathering, which featured Nobel laureate Dr. Y.T. Lee as keynote speaker, was a wonderful way to connect with such intriguing alums as Sun Tse Ping, a former Berkeley I-House resident and grandson of Chinese hero, Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

On behalf of International House and all who attended the alumni gathering, I thank Charlene Chien and Ming-Jeh Chien for hosting a memorable evening. It was gratifying to meet so many people whose lives have been enriched by their I-House experiences. I extend thanks as well to current resident, Jason Ni, for his logistical support from start to finish.

At the International House in Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China, I found that I still have a lot to learn!

One banquet in particular reminded me that, despite whatever knowledge I may have acquired in my travels and at I-House, cross-cultural exchange is a perpetual learning experience. Our hosts treated us to an incredible range of dishes - Hunan, Mongolian, Szechwan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese - on and on, through fourteen courses. Following my American upbringing, I tried to clean each plate so as not to waste food, but soon I couldn't eat any more.

Then the Secretary General of the Taipei House leaned over and said to me, "It's all right if you can't finish. If you empty your plate, that indicates that we have been poor hosts and not given you enough food, which would result in a loss of face for me."

No matter what path the I-House takes me down, I still learn that I have a lot to learn!

Executive Director


Online edition of the alumnus newsletter of International House
© 2003 International House