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Sunday Supper Celebrates
Black History Month

Black History Month was celebrated in February at International House with a traditional Sunday Supper featuring guest speaker George Strait, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, who also serves on the I-House Board. The audience gave a standing ovation to alumnus Dr. Wendell Lipscomb, in recognition of his contribution to civil rights as a trainer of the Tuskegee Airmen, and alumna Roshchelle Paul who was the resident musician sixty years ago and returned to the I-House stage for a moving performance.

Dr. Wendell Lipscomb (IH 1947-'48) and Jason Bowen (IH 2000-'03) met at Sunday Supper after Dr. Lipscomb, a Berkeley psychiatrist, was recognized for his work as a trainer for the Tuskegee Airmen. The Airmen were America's first black military pilots at a time when many people thought that black men lacked intelligence, courage, and patriotism. "It was such an honor to meet Dr. Lipscomb," says Jason. "I had always heard about the Tuskegee Airman - their outstanding record of accomplishment and contributions to breaking down racist stereotypes. It was amazing to have the chance to meet him at an I-House Sunday Supper." Jason is a Ph.D. student in physics and a graduate student researcher at the Space Science Laboratory.

Friends from I-House, Rochelle Paul (IH 1941-'45) at left and Rebecca Hayden (IH 1940-'42), enjoyed catching up at Sunday Supper. As a music student, Ms. Paul was recruited by former Director Allen Blaisdell to serve as resident musician and play the piano after dinner in the Great Hall and at House events. Ms. Paul played the piano at Sunday Supper, just as she had sixty years ago. Residents were moved by her performance of a Gershwin medley and inspired to imagine themselves returning after sixty years. After their I-House years, Ms. Paul went on to a career as a pianist and singer and Ms. Hayden became a textbook publisher.

From left, current residents Rima Shah (India), Caroline Custer (USA), Nidhi Tandon (India), and Mariah Hudler (USA/Ireland) performed a traditional Indian dance at the February Sunday Supper. "The best part of the dance was having non-Indians participate," says Nidhi. "It would not have been as much fun without them. I was lucky to have my Brazilian friend, Bernardo, as my dance partner. Teaching him some of the cool dance moves, explaining what the lines of the song meant, and singing along was uniquely exciting! Mariah and Caroline looked absolutely gorgeous in the traditional ghaghra-choli and performed the dance with elegance!" Mariah adds, "As an Irish American, learning the dance and wearing the traditional dress for the Dandia was a unique and everlasting experience that only the I-House could have provided."

Sunday Suppers are the oldest tradition of International House, dating back to 1910 when Harry Edmonds, who worked for the YMCA in New York, invited international and U.S. students to his home to counter the loneliness experienced by international students. This led to the founding of the first International House in New York in 1924. When the second House opened in Berkeley in 1930, Sunday Supper was proclaimed, "the occasion around which the life of the House is centered." Today, Sunday Suppers are festive events held four times each year, featuring a guest speaker and performances by multi-talented residents.


Online edition of the alumnus newsletter of International House
© 2004 International House