International theme house brings foreign and domestic students together as a global community

Foreign and domestic students interact at an International House event. Photo credit: Brendan Raleigh

By Brendan Raleigh, News Editor

This year, what was previously home to Gettysburg Col­lege’s Diaspora House has been converted into the International House (IH), a brand new theme house with the goal of creating a more centralized presence for the international community on campus and helping international students adjust to their new home.

With a total of 94 interna­tional students on campus this year, 41 of whom are new, the college administration realized the need to establish such a theme house. The location at 102 W. Water Street fit the bill perfectly.

“The idea of the interna­tional house is to have interna­tional and domestic students living together in a global environment, so that domestic students can learn about the world and international students can learn more about the United States,” says Brad Lan­caster, the Director International Student Services. “International students specifically can get to know more Americans, share their culture with campus, and continue to build Gettysburg College’s international presence.”

The current goal of the house is to fill between 70 and 80 percent of the rooms with interna­tional students, with the remaining rooms going to American students who wish to learn more about world cultures. But the house’s main focus is on the international students and their adjustment to life in America.

“In one way, it’s a place where students can come to hang out, but you don’t necessarily have to be an international student to come here,” says International House Leader Asger Hansen. “We also have a few American students in the house. For example, we have student who is living here as a way to learn more about Chinese culture.

“So, on one hand, it’s a place where people can come to get advice from upperclassmen about going to the hospital, how public transportation works, or to get help with schoolwork, but it’s also a place where anyone can come to hang out and get involved.”

“The house is definitely go­ing to be helpful for international students,” adds Senior Wei Xiong, an international student from Xian, China. “With the Interna­tional House, you have the house leaders, the international advisor, and other students who are all there to help you out. It’s just a good environment to engage with different people.”

The house will also be holding various events, such as movie nights and special lectures, throughout the semester in coor­dination with various on-campus organizations. From Sept. 26 to Sept. 27, International House will have its first big event, in which a professor from Bates College will visit to discuss the Israel-Palestine Conflict with students, as well per­form traditional Palestinian music.

“It’s a great way for interna­tional students to share their cul­ture and also work with different departments like Asians students or ME studies and put together events for the campus in general,” says Lancaster.

Diaspora House, a theme house focused on the communi­ties that are descendent from the historic movement of African peoples, previously held the 102 W. Water Street location. This year, however, it was unable to fill enough of its rooms, its previous location was selected for the new theme housing. Diaspora House has since been moved to 223 Carlisle Street.

“Sometimes it’s a lit­tle more overwhelming for an international student to come to college because ev­erything is new,” comments Hansen. “The [International House] is going to help people settle in better and it will help Americans become more aware of international cultures on campus.”

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Author: Isabel Gibson Penrose

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