International House was recently featured on major Spanish-language network Telemundo. Emmy-Award-winning journalist Liz Gonzalez visited I-House and spoke with some members of our community. Watch the video here. A transcript in English is below.
Anchors: In this time of conflicts and divisions, can you imagine a place where everyone is accepted, where there is no racism or prejudice? There is a place in New York, where that dream is a reality.
Liz Gonzalez was there, and she spoke to the residents of International House about how they do it in this special report, “Breaking Down Walls.”
Liz Gonzalez on Camera: The project began more than 90 years ago and presents the same challenge to every resident: to become tomorrow’s leaders, sharing the values they learn during their stay at International House.
On the west side of Harlem, facing the Hudson River, 750 graduate students from 100 countries live together, here — at International House.
(Sound on Tape)
Calvin Sims, CEO International House: “By living in this house, they are going to be challenged every day from someone who is different.”
This residence, where graduate students who are studying in New York live together, provides daily opportunities to have conversations and really get to know people from faraway continents, people who might have different beliefs and customs that might be in conflict with their own.
Luz Zamora is a Venezuelan film maker and documentarian. She studied at the New School and has lived at International House since 2016.
Luz Zamora: “It changes the way you look at the world; you arrive at International House in New York, thinking that you are multicultural, diverse and tolerant. and then you find yourself in situations that test that tolerance and understanding.”
Each year they celebrate the All Nations event. It’s an opportunity for residents to show off the food, clothing and culture from their countries. The Latino employees also participate offering Hispanic food and of course — a Dominican cake.
Elvis Ndansi is wearing traditional clothes from Cameroon to the party. He’s one of 12 leaders from different parts of the world chosen to form the first group of Obama scholars at Columbia University in NY, and they all live at International House.
In Cameroon, he’s working on providing better health care, and he says he’d like to build a residence similar to International House for the African continent.
Elvis Ndansi: “I feel the pain in my heart when I see what is going on in South Africa…”
where folks from the same continents are fighting against each other, saying no, you guys are not from our country, and I think those who have this opportunity to live in this type of environment like I-House will have a completely different view about the world.”
That view is based on the three values of International House: Respect, Empathy and Moral Courage.
Calvin Sims: “What we do is we break down that wall…”
Calvin Sims, the CEO, is the first leader of International House from a minority community.
Calvin Sims, “I may disagree with you politically or socially in terms of where you stand, but because I respect you, I’m going to try to understand why you have that perspective, and you’ll do the same with me.”
Last March, 12 residents including Elvis and Luz, who recorded this video, traveled to the border between Mexico and the United States to better understand the immigration crisis that is affecting the entire world.
Luz Zamora: “When you see that 4000 trucks cross the border every day and that they are vital to the economy of the region, you understand that the United States needs Mexico just as much as Mexico needs the United States.”
Today the world is more interconnected than ever, and the mission of International House continues to be just as important as the year it was established in 1924, to promote the leadership values that break down walls, instead of building them.
Liz Gonzalez on Camera: International House is a non-profit organization that has changed the lives of 65,000 residents throughout the years. Some have important achievements, including Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, authors, musicians and business leaders.