Nicola Szibbo & Troy Reinhalter
Nicola, a Canadian, and Troy, an American, met in 2008 while Nicola was living at I-House. They loved hanging out at I-House and attending holiday meals in the Dining Hall, coffee hour, formal dances, hiking and attending Cal games with other international students they met at I-House. They consider themselves an international couple and have traveled to Thailand, Mexico, Korea and several countries Europe together. In August 2012, Nicola and Troy married at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, where both their families from Vancouver, BC and from Washington, DC traveled for the big event.
Nicola is very excited that Ambassador Ken Taylor and Dr. Pat Taylor are "couple of the year," given the release of the movie Argo and the US-Canadian cooperation that led to the successful “Canadian Caper” in Iran.
Mason & Estelle Gaffney (IH '48-52)
I-House alumnus Mason Gaffney, originally from New York, speaks from experience when discussing "outdated laws that deny marriage between consenting adults." His wedding to his I-House sweetheart, Estelle Lau, from Hawaii, was impossible until they, as close followers of the 1948 Perez v. Sharpe legal case in California, benefitted from this historic ruling to legalize inter-racial marriage in California. Recently, Mason and Estelle's son, Stuart, filed an amicus brief to the California Supreme Court with his life partner John Lewis, which was ultimately part of the Court's ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. Full story in Fall 2008 IH Times (pdf)
Raj Shekhar Singh & Momo Zheng (IH Summer '08)
Raj Singh writes, "I was just going through the list of couples who fell in love at International House and I wanted to inform you about my love story too.
I met my wife Momo Zheng at I-House in the summer of 2008. We immediately fell in love and got married as soon as I came to UC Berkeley again for my PhD study. We live in Berkeley right now."
Momo adds: "Raj and I fell in love within a few days after meeting each other at "Coffee Hour" at the beginning of our summer session in 2008. When we decided to get married in the year 2009, we didn't tell our parents because both sides wouldn't agree, and in fact, they were against our union at that time. So we got married at the Civic Center of San Francisco. After several years we finally gained approval from our families. In January 2013 my parents hosted a Chinese wedding ceremony for us in my hometown, a remote place in the mountain area in Fu Jian province.
As for Raj's family, they are going to host the Indian wedding in December 2013 in their hometown in east India. In Chinese and Indian society, wedding is one of the biggest social events, it's not only the bonding of two people, but more a family event. And since both of our parents need to host the wedding among their own social circles, there should be two ceremonies. So this is why we already had a Chinese wedding at the beginning of the year, and we are going to have an Indian wedding at the end of the year..."
Magda Elghobashi Schmit & Pierre-Hugues Schmit (IH 2002)
Magda writes, “An American, I met my husband (a Frenchman) three months after moving to I-House. We met in the dining hall at lunchtime on Friday, November 1st, 2002.” They live in Paris and we are now the proud parents of Luc, who was born in 2010. "We travel regularly to California for family vacations and hope to return to CA to live in the near future! We still have such fond memories of our time at I-House in 2002.
Sara Bakhtary & Giovanni Dubois
Giovanni writes "Because of I-House, I can travel the world for 10 months straight – visiting many friends in many countries.... accompanied by an amazing wife who I met in the Great Hall! I not only feel more worldly, but have special memories of friends’ weddings in Brazil and India. Thank you I-House!" See adventures in their travel blog. http://saragiovanni.com
Giovanni Gonzalez Dubois is from Guatemala and Sara is of Iranian background. Their two cultures were reflected on their wedding day through the mix of Latino and Persian music on the dance floor, the kabob served for dinner, and the international guests present speaking Spanish, Farsi, and English.
Sara & Giovanni met at Coffee Hour in the Great Hall in 2005 and married in 2008.
Giovanni is the Founder of LAM Network, a social network for the Latino professionals that currently engages close to 5,000 members online and offline in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. He is being nominated for El Innovator Revolución Award, courtesy of South by Southwest Festival!
See their update in our I-House Stories page.
Cliff & Sylvia Ho
Cliff Ho and Sylvia Saltzstein met in the I-House Café before a Saturday night football game in 1991. They hit it off immediately, and soon fell in love. They both loved many of the activities that I-House had to offer: great conversations in the dining hall, coffee hours, movie nights, cultural programs, and floor parties. I-House brought so much enjoyment to their lives that when they decided to get married, Joe Lurie was their first choice to officiate the marriage! As an official "Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day," Joe made the ceremony wonderfully special. The wedding was held on October 22, 1994 at the UC Berkeley Faculty Glade. It turned out to be a big I-House party!
Cliff and Sylvia now live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they’ve worked at Sandia National Labs for nearly 20 years. Cliff recently returned to I-House as a guest speaker for a talk titled, “Concentrating Solar Power and Overview of Sandia National Laboratories.” They have three girls, ages 7, 11, and 13, who are active in soccer, dance, piano, theater, and school. In commemoration of their cherished memories at I-House, they inscribed the three bricks on the I-House Cafe patio.
Juliet Estrella & Mark Spencer
Mark writes: "Juliet and I met during our first week at I-House, in August 1988. We enjoyed the many activities and made many friends at I-House. We got married in 1996 in Berkeley, with many of our I-House friends in attendance. Our wedding ceremony blended together Filipino, Catholic and Jewish traditions, which we continue to this day. We happily count ourselves among the many cross-cultural couples of I-House, and we enjoy our visits back to Cal and I-House!"
We are very pleased to feature Juliet & Mark, an I-House couple we didn't have on our Couples list until Mark saw our new love page and was inspired to share their story. Their wedding ceremony blended Filipino, Catholic and Jewish traditions - as shown in photo with both a Cross and Menorah in the background.
Sarah Katz (IH 2010-12) & Julio Rodríguez Sánchez (IH 2010-11)
Sarah writes: "Two and a half years ago, Julio Rodríguez Sánchez asked to sit at my table in the dining hall. After that, he gave me his number and we met again. It turned out later that he had actually been noticing me for two weeks straight before that day in the cafeteria. Over the holidays and following semester, we fell in love.
That summer of 2011, I traveled with Julio back to Spain, where I stayed with his family before going to work in Madrid. We spent the whole summer together until I had to return to Cal for my senior year. It's been a while now but we've kept in touch this entire time and I certainly plan on returning to Spain in the near future to teach English and pursue a career in international development, right across the way in the Mediterranean. As a brilliant civil engineer, I'm counting on him to design the next Alhambra. :)
After a couple years of many changes, it couldn't be more clear that Julio was the best gift I-House ever gave me. ♥ "
Long-Lasting Couples Keep that I-House Spark Alive!
Maria Sagarna (IH 1956-58) and Gunnar Engen
Gunnar writes, "As an international student from Norway, I benefited greatly from my three years at I-House, where I worked at the Information Desk. I met Maria Sagarna, a Ph.D student from Spain, and fell in love. I proposed to Maria and the final "negotiation" took place on the I-House steps where this photo was taken. A year later we were married on the day I received my MA in economics. We both became US citizens and worked until retirement.
It was so long ago, but such incredible memories which are hard to describe! We were foreign students in a foreign land setting out on an uncertain journey. Youthful exuberance and strong belief in the future were the guiding force. Our stay at International House is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of our studies at UC Berkeley."
Ken Taylor (IH 1957-59) and Patricia Taylor (IH 1958-60)
If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning film Argo you are already familiar with the remarkable heroism of Ken and Pat Taylor who risked their lives to safely harbor American hostages in their home in Iran while Ken served as Canadian Ambassador to Iran. But did you know the seeds of their partnership were sown at I-House while eating breakfast in the dining hall? The I-House Café patio brick they inscribed says it all: "Hooray for Breakfast!" You can be like Ken & Pat with a brick inscription that supports The Fund for I-House!
Ken & Pat were honored as 2013 Alumni Couple of the Year at our 25th Annual Gala Awards Celebration on April 18, 2013.
Learn more about Ambassador Kenneth Taylor and other notable alumni at ihouse.berkeley.edu/alumni/notable/
Professor Hans Peter Duerr (1953-56) and Carol “Sue” Duerr (1953-56)
World-renowned physicist and former director of the Max Planck Institute, Hans Peter Duerr and his wife, Sue—who first met at I-House— visited from Munich in March. Sue majored in music at Cal and has taught dance and music all her professional life. The couple delighted in wandering around the House and chatting with Hans Giesecke, who invited them to Dr. Jacqueline Stevens’ talk later that evening—one of I-House’s 2013 Spring Speaker Series events. Happily, the Duerrs accepted. We look forward to seeing Hans and Sue again in the near future in Berkeley, or perhaps even in Germany!
Learn more about Professor Duerr and other notable alumni at ihouse.berkeley.edu/alumni/notable/.
Vern Haddick and Paul Herman
50 Years of Partnership
Vern Haddick and Paul Herman met as residents at International House and formed a lasting partnership that endured more than fifty years. Paul passed away last fall and Vern has inscribed a brick on the I-House patio in memory of their enduring union that I-House made possible.
Paul Edward Herman - gladly did he learn- and gladly teach
Cement your bond with a brick inscribed in the I-House Café patio. Brick inscriptions support The Fund for I-House which provides critical support for resident scholarships as well as the day-to-day operations of the House.
BERKELEYSIDE: I-House honors gay couple as equality fight unfolds in DC
Joe Lurie & Donna Rosenthal (IH '69-71)
Joe Lurie served as I-House executive director from 1988 to 2007 and observed thousands of cross-cultural connections and romances at I-House – even officiating at several weddings among former residents! Joe’s wife, Donna, an author and international journalist was a former I-House resident herself who in 1969 in room 497 once imagined marrying a future I-House Director. Her dream came true! That year was also memorable for the disappearance of the library doors that separated the “mens” and “ladies” sides of I-House – doors removed by their hinges and hidden apparently by rogue residents wanting to remove barriers to international mingling among residents of different genders. Then ED Sheridan Warrick when asked about resolving the mystery indicated he decided “not to look (for the doors too hard…” – and thus the foundation for mixed gender floors at I-House took root!
Betsey & Sheridan "Sherry" Warrick
While Sherry Warrick was Executive Director of I-House from 1961-1987 he would on a daily basis recount everything that happened at I-House that day while Betsey prepared dinner and they consulted on issues of every kind. Their partnership has endured 67 years and remains and inspiration to the many people in Berkeley and around the world who love them.
Evangeline "Vangie" Canonizado & Bill Buell
Former I-House staff member and renowned author Vangie Buell married Bill Buell in the I-House Great Hall on February 21, 1987 in a ceremony orchestrated by staff and residents. Reports Vangie, who was named one of the 100 most influential Filipina women, "Bill and I love I-House and consider I-House our home.”
Arun (IH '75-78) & Rummi A. Sarin (IH '75)
Arun and Rummi A. Sarin met during the first Social Hour for new residents coordinated by the Program Office in 1975. Originally from India, they married in 1980 and have since continued to advance the ideals of International House while traveling the globe: providing bold leadership in wireless mobile technologies to facilitate communication worldwide, and as engaged and generous philanthropists dedicated to a more tolerant and peaceful world.
Firoozeh Jazayeri Dumas (IH '86-87) & Francois Dumas (IH '83-92)
Firoozeh, IH Alumna of the Year 2009, Notable Alumni, writes:
"It is in places such as I-House that we learn to see beyond nationalities, borders, and religions and see instead our shared humanity. It is the only recipe for world peace. At I-House, I realized that I was not alone in the way I think about the world."
Ms. Dumas met her future husband Francois, from France, at International House, fueling more cross-cultural stories. They are the proud parents of three "future I-House residents."
Helen & Raj Desai (IH 1951-53)
Helen writes, “I saw a darling boy at I-House and went on a 'harmless' tennis date with him."
Helen Crane, a native Californian, and Raj, a graduate student from Bombay, met and fell in love. Raj earned his MS in Engineering at Cal while Helen completed her BA and MA in Art History. Their time at I-House established many lasting friendships that enriched their lives together, including raising three children, one of whom, in addition to two of seven grandchildren, also became residents. International House was honored to dedicate Raj’s former room 547 in their honor. Generous champions of International House and its mission - in word, voice, deed, and philanthropic support -
To dedicate a room, see Room Naming Opportunities.
Eric Schmidt (IH 1976-80) & Wendy Boyle (IH 1978-82)
“... I show up and I went to International House, which is a lot of fun and is a great institution. And there I met my wife, Wendy. Pretty important decision to come to Berkeley and to I-House.”
– Eric Schmidt
Excerpt from CAA Address at the Charter Gala event on March 24th, 2012.
Jeanne Hoffman (IH '52-54) & Ladd R. Griffith (IH 52-55)
In 1952, Jeanne Hoffman, from Oregon, and Ladd Griffith, from Colorado, met at International House and began a friendship and romance that would endure for 46 years until Ladd’s death in June, 2001. Together they raised three children: Dina, Julie, and David. Over the years they welcomed to their home many International House residents, alumni, and other visiting scholars and friends from countries as diverse as Wales, Italy, Estonia, Japan, and China.
International House proudly dedicates room 495 where Jeanne Griffith resided in recognition of their lives and special ties to International House and all that it champions. To dedicate a room, see Room Naming Opportunities.
Watch an interview featured on our video, If These Old Walls Could Speak.
Valerie & Mel Forbes (IH '69-70)
Alumni couple Valerie Lank Forbes and Mel Forbes visited I-House from Australia and posed near their inscribed brick on the cafe patio (see below). The Forbes' son, Benjamin, lived at I-House in 2007-08. To dedicate a brick see Brick Naming.
Arlene & Wolf Homburger
Arlene Levinson (IH '51-53) and Wolfgang Homburger (IH '50-51) shared their lives for fifty years and a love of family, the arts, and the mission of I-House.
Their generous philanthropic support made important safety upgrades possible throughout the I-House building. In recognition, I-House is honored to have dedicated the Arlene Levinson Homburger Terrace at the front of the I-House Cafe, and room 760, Wolf's former room.
The Beahrs family
Four generations of the Beahrs family joined John and Virginia Oakley Beahrs (IH 1934-35) in celebrating their meeting at I-House 71 years ago! From left (seated): Carolyn Beahrs, John Beahrs, Erik Beahrs (on lap), Virginia Beahrs, Andrew Beahrs. From left (standing): Bill Beahrs, Michele Byrnes, Derek Byrnes, Elizabeth Windchy, Richard Beahrs. John, Virginia, Carolyn, Andrew, Michele, and Richard are all Cal alums.
Valentine's Gathering at I-House, 2005.
Tanyan & Benito Lim
Tanyan Nguyen Lim (IH 1968-69) discarded her anti-Chinese prejudice after a Chinese student helped her when she fell ill soon after arriving from Vietnam. That experience paved the way for another Chinese student, Benito Lim (IH 1966-70), to go "from enemy to husband!" The Lims have five sons, four of whom graduated from Cal – the fifth missed the application deadline and had to go to MIT.
Valentine's Gathering at I-House, 2005.
Eugene & Jean Pekary
At lunch in the I-House dining room, Eugene Pekary (1965-69), saw "a lovely Philippina lady," Jean Nicolas Pekary (IH1967-68), and almost dropped his tray. He knew she was the woman for him but had to admire her from afar until he managed to maneuver through the Dining Room line to be near her and offered an awkward hello. "It was the start of a beautiful relationship."
Valentine's Gathering at I-House, 2005.
Walter & Marianne Newkirk Kerl
Walter and Marianne (IH 1943-44) celebrated the 61st anniversary of their very first date at the Valentine's gathering in 2005. Their daughter Caroline Kerl (IH 1970-71) continued the family tradition by meeting her husband, Bill Lunch (IH 1969-70) at I-House.
Valentine's Gathering at I-House, 2005.
Ellina Marx & Orville Golub
Orville Golub (IH 1938-40) was standing by the fireplace in the Great Hall when "into the room walks tall and athletic" Ellina Marx (IH 1939) after returning from horseback riding. Cupid struck, leading to their marriage of 63 years (and counting!).
Valentine's Gathering at I-House, 2005.
Sunny Lai, Monique Porsandeh, William Casper-Ortiz, Jose Garcia & Hector Mendoza
"I have met so many beautiful people here, and I will always cherish them in my life."
-Monique Porsandeh on January 29, 2011 at an I-House Alumni Reunion at Yoshi's SF
Friends of I-House alumna Monique Porsandeh are gathering at a rally this Sat. July 13, 4-6 pm in Allyne Park, the location where Monique was struck by a car and left severely injured. See article. Residents and alumni are welcome to join Rally for Monique's Accident and encouraged to wear I-House T-Shirts as a show of support and I-House unity.
Benjamin Maurice, Cynthia Or, Fredrik Olovsson, Ivy Chu & Como Shin
Proudly displaying their Cal and I-House love, Fredrik Olovsson shared this photo on facebook and wrote, "Four I-House friends making a greeting for a fifth, who couldn't make it to the reunion in Shanghai, November 2012. We Love I-House!"
For the ultimate gesture of I-House friendship, the group spelled out COMO for their friend Como Shin (IH '10-11), who was there in spirit!
From left: Benjamin Maurice (IH '10-11), Cynthia Or (IH '10-12), Fredrik Olovsson (IH '10-11) and Ivy Chu (IH '10-11).
Larissa Moessmer & Jennifer Thomas
Larissa writes: "I've read all the cute stories of couples and friends who met at International House - this is just such a wonderful idea! I did have that experience too, when I met my I-House roomie Jennifer, now one of my best friends.
In the summer 2012 I met Jennifer, the best roommate you could hope for! The draw could not have been any more perfect and we clicked right away. After months of not only sharing a room, but also so many great moments that made this summer truly unforgettable, she became one of my best and closest friends.
My time in Berkeley would not have been the same without her.
Today we are living over 5900 miles away from each other, Jennifer in Berkeley and I in Munich, but that doesn’t keep us from being in touch almost every day.
I cannot wait for our reunion in May and all future adventures with her.
"I know the best is yet to come!"
Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon Magnus (IH '96-97) Alumnus of the Year 2009
On October 25th, 2011, His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway returned "under the dome"— the place he knew as home while a political science post-graduate student at Cal. Haakon visited with I-House friends Mehrdad Afrahi (IH '93-95) and Simon Cawley (IH '95-96) pictured at right.
In his acceptance speech, Haakon—slipping off his tie to great applause as he announced the Great Hall "feels like home"—cited how his I-House Experience had enriched him in many ways, both big and small, and contributed to the skills and perspectives of his diplomatic work around the world. He also wryly noted I-House as a key contributor to building his little known skills as a disc jockey….a useful talent in promoting cross-cultural harmony. "It's a great community to be part of here at I-House," said Haakon.
Alicia De Bruyn & I-House friends
Alicia writes: "I lived in I-House for only one semester, in Fall 2011, but it was the best semester of my life. I met some of my best friends there, including my roommate, Laura Hertz. This is a picture of all of us on a trip to Lake Tahoe, in a weekend of September 2011. That's the weekend where we all really got to know each other.
From left to right- Alicia De Bruyn (Belgium), Maria Sundqvist (Sweden), Arienne Malekmadani (USA), Lisa Barry (English, non-Ihouse resident although she ended up spending a lot of time there), Laura Hertz (USA), Milda Jasaite (Lithuania).
Thank you for the amazing times, and my friends across the world!"
Frederique Bos & Ani Brandt
Ani writes: "I met Frederique Bos in the summer of 2012 at I-House. We clicked right away, had one of the best summers of our lives together.
We´ve known each other for less than a year but already consider each other sisters.
We are living 5,750 miles away, me in Mexico City, Frederique in Utrecht. That does not stop us from talking almost everyday! I had the chance of visiting her in December and planning to see each other for the summer."
Narissa Alibhai & Aisha Kigongo
Narissa Alibhai of Kenya and Aisha Kigongo of Uganda are friends who have bonded as fellow IH residents and MasterCard Foundation Scholars for 2012-13. Says Narissa “I-House has given me hope and inspiration! I continue to meet many people of all backgrounds using their skills to improve the lives of others….”
Aisha reports “I-House offers me the chance to discover who I am through the culture of others….This sense of community grounded in intercultural understanding makes many others and me proud to be part of International House.”
Ingeborg Dalen Øverhaug & Asalle Tanha
Ingeborg writes: "Upon arriving at I-House at the fall of 2008 I met my new roomie, Asalle Tanha from Sonoma, California! I had never before, nor have I after shared a bedroom with anyone, but I am glad I got to live with her for a whole year! Through great experiences with laughter but also tears, I see her as one of my best and closest friends today! Last fall she came to visit me in Norway, and I hope that I can soon go visit her in San Francisco as well! "
Ingeborg is from Hamar, Norway and is now studying in Bergen.
Keep Sharing the I-House Love!
Hans & Susan Giesecke
In 2012 Hans Giesecke joined I-House as its fifth Executive Director in 82 years. He and his wife Susan, together with their family moved into a Berkeley hills home they later discovered was also the former home of I-House's first ED, Allen Blaisdell!
Says Hans, "I-House continues to forge remarkable connections among diverse people all over the world. We invite you to share your own personal memories and stories about I-House that will in turn enable us to spread the word about I-House's remarkable impact far and wide."
Contact I-House at: email@example.com.