The I-House Connection: April 2020

I-House Berkeley: Celebrating Nine Decades
April 21, 2020

The I-House Connection -  April 2020

The Board of Directors, senior team, and staff of International House at UC Berkeley remain committed to keeping I-House open and available for the residential and dining needs of our diverse community of residents for as long as operationally feasible and safe from a public health standpoint.  I write to you today to provide an update on the status of I-House operations, but first wish to express gratitude for all of the expressions of support from you, our alumni and friends throughout the world.  

As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve rapidly, I encourage you to visit our website regularly: for current updates and information on mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 here at I-House, and responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs). UC Berkeley updates may be found at

I-House is now operating at roughly one-third capacity as of late April 2020. The lower occupancy will persist for an unknown time period now that the University has moved to all remote course provision, and vaccines and therapeutics for the virus are still under development.  In support of its residents, I-House has waived housing contract cancellation fees and has accelerated reimbursements for the approximately four hundred residents who have left the house. These uncertain times have been especially challenging for low-income and international students who are unable or who can’t afford to return home and our top priority has been to continue serving these individuals well.

I-House dining and catering operations continue to serve residents who remain, while all events and conferences including our annual Awards Celebration and Gala have been cancelled, and visits to the house for public and alumni tours and meetings have ceased. Future event bookings are not being made at this time, although I-House plans on continued operations for the summer and has just announced the application process for Summer Financial Aid.  A number of staff are working remotely on a temporary basis, others are on paid administrative leave, while many front-line resident facing staff continue to work diligently and safely within the House.

Once again, I would like to reiterate that we are most grateful for the tremendous messages of support being conveyed by the extended I-House global community in support of our efforts to foster fellowship, cultivate community, and grow leaders. Through these uncertain times, we wish you and your family health and safety.


Hans Giesecke signature

Hans C. Giesecke, Ph.D.
Executive Director
International House, UC Berkeley

I-House Residents Fighting COVID-19, One Care Package at a Time

By Chan’Cellore Makanjuola, I-House Social Media Ambassador

With the rising spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus,  sweeping across the globe, efforts to stop the ongoing pandemic have been put in place. Numerous countries have implemented nation-wide lockdowns along with stay at home orders  intended for the safety of the public, Those more susceptible to the virus, such as the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions can be left in precarious situations if unable to get the resources they need to quarantine properly at home. 

I-House Residents Fighting COVID-19, One Care Package at a Time

Clockwise top left: Marie Rajon Bernard, Toni Adetayo, Nitasha Goya, and Marcel Schaack. Courtesy of SF Food Friends.

At UC Berkeley’s International House, or I-House, four residents decided they wanted to do something to help. Graduate students Nitasha Goyal, Marcel Schaack, Marie Rajon Bernard, and Oluwatoni “Toni” Adetayo, created SF Food Friends, a volunteer-matching program to help at-risk residents of San Francisco get their groceries and medication delivered to them by low-risk volunteers in the area. The idea for the platform came shortly after UC Berkeley moved to online instruction and social distancing measures were firmly implemented at I-House. Goyal, a native of New Jersey and graduate student in Translational Medicine, helped pioneer the concept.

Read more on our blog

A Community, Always

by Valerie Ong, I-House Resident Engagement Manager

The I-House Program Office has been coordinating virtual programs to provide residents, no matter where in the world they are, a sense of community. Residents have shared photos and reflections via social media, as well as favorite I-House experiences and memories via podcast. They have also enjoyed simply spending time with each other over virtual Coffee Hour, as pictured below: 

 Carl Hentges

I-House Social Media Ambassador Chan'Cellore Makanjuola writes, "In keeping with tradition, our I-House Program Office hosted their signature coffee hour event, this time virtually, where residents could chat while enjoying coffee. Despite limited in-person social interactions, we are grateful to find ways to stay connected during this time!"

Views from I-House Photo Stories

Residents remaining in I-House are finding the silver lining in the shelter-in-place orders. Take a look at some of the posts shared on our social media networks:

Views from I-House post
For more "View from I-House" posts, follow I-House on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. To share your own photo, post on social media with the hashtag #viewsfromihouse.

Calling All Alumni: Send Your Message to Residents

Our residents have lost the ability to gather physically, but you can share in their community. Help them feel less alone by offering your encouragement. Together, we will show them that even as our world is in crisis, their global community is thinking of them. Please email your message to and include your name and country (and class year if possible).

Stay In Touch

Stay in touchIt is our goal to celebrate the lives and achievements of our alumni and the contributions they have made and continue to make around the world. Please help us to keep you informed of upcoming regional events, update our records to help you reconnect with old friends, locate lost alumni, and share recent news with you. If you have moved, changed email or mailing addresses, or want to give us an exciting update about developments in your own life, please let us know by filling out this brief contact update form

By sharing this with your I-House friends, you are helping to extend our reach and to keep the I-House connection alive! As always, we welcome your news at See more ways for alumni to stay connected

We thank you for staying connected to International House Berkeley.


I-House Alumni Relations, Communications, and Philanthropy Team
(510) 642-4128

I-House Berkeley