Residents Shaping the Future of I-House
On September 27, 2017, crowds gathered in the Main Lounge at International House for the Fall Programs Fair. While Residents forged new connections, read brochures and sipped lemonade, I met a few new Residents who are paving the way for a more diverse, informed and open I-House community.
Meet Ana Gabatteli (photo: right), from Brazil, this year’s leader of the LGBTQ Alliance at I-House. She just moved in this fall and is excited to continue fostering a culture of acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and create a safe community that focuses on equality and friendship. Gabatteli believes that people don’t talk about LGBTQ issues enough at I-House and hopes that the Alliance will help start more conversations and raise awareness.
This term, the LGBTQ Alliance hopes to coordinate social events like queer-ally brunches and establish partnerships with local LGBTQ organizations in the Morningside Heights community. Working together with both local organizations and within I-House, the LGBTQ Alliance is a leap toward creating and making positive, inclusive experiences for everyone at I-House. So far, the Alliance has received a lot of interest from current I-House Residents, and many at the Fall Programs Fair expressed their gratitude to Gabatteli for taking the lead for this important group .
Another woman taking the lead on social issues at I-House is Yiyi Zhang, who’s spearheading the Round Table: Late Night Conversation group at I-House. The Round Table is in its second year, and Zhang hopes to grow the group and keep the doors open for anyone interested in in-depth discussions about local and global topics. At the Round Table events, no topic is off-limits, but typically discussions will focus on sociopolitical, economic, and environmental issues. This year, Zhang plans to host open dialogues on community issues such as homelessness and national topics such as U.S. immigration policy.
Zhang is coordinating events for the Round Table because she wants I-House Residents to have more opportunities for intellectual discussions on serious topics where Residents can share their opinions and converse with others. She finds that I-House has a lot of wonderful social events for Residents, but believes the Round Table events will bring much-needed opportunities for more in-depth Resident conversations. Zhang says she was inspired to get involved with the Round Table because of the “life-changing documentaries” she watched at I-House last year. This fall, Zhang is in the midst of planning a number of free events open to all I-House Residents, some of which will be documentary film screenings followed by discussions.
The Women in Leadership (WIL) group was also tabling at the Fall Programs Fair this year. Recently named fellow Lulu walked interested women through the program’s features, development opportunities, and advice on the application process. Lulu underscored the WIL program’s focus on both personal and professional growth. She believes this year’s selected WIL fellows are a diverse group of women and believes the WIL fosters non-judgmental opportunities for discussion from people of a wide variety of backgrounds and opinions.
I-House Program Fellow Natalie Kereths is another Resident excited about the upcoming opportunities for Residents this fall. It’s her second year and she’s really connected with the I-House community. “All of my friends are in I-House,” she explained.
Kereths is most looking forward to the upcoming “Totally Not a Ted Talk” discussion series, which will offer speaker topics based on student-generated suggestions. One Resident anonymously suggested the topic of “How to Write a Love Letter as a Statistician,” while many others quickly slipped their ideas into a box before I could sneak a peek. The mystery will unfold soon enough, and the ideas selected will be sure to cover a range of unexpected topics.
This year’s Fall Programs Fair was a great success and offered up a mix of both traditional and new fare for I-House Residents dedicated to fostering an international, inclusive community of people from all over the world.