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Resident Spotlight: Isabella Mukankusi (Uganda)

Lengths of residency at International House vary from a month to three years. Within these concentrated periods, the opportunities for residents from different countries and disciplines to meet one another are especially valuable, and our global community becomes stronger with each new community member. Joining us for the Spring 2022 semester is Isabella Mukankusi, a human rights lawyer from Uganda who moved to New York to attend the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) in the Institute of the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, a four-month-long program. Isabella sat with us recently to share about her I-House experience and the work she’s been doing. How did you hear about I-House? What made you decide to live here? My Program Director shared the website and talked about all the programs and events that I-House provides to their residents. She emphasized that the previous advocates loved staying at I-House while attending their program. Can you tell us a little bit about your work? I am a Human Rights lawyer with over a decade’s experience in Social Justice and Human Rights. I’m currently focusing on research and practice, disability rights, women and children’s rights, and indigenous communities, amongst others. I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Wak Mental Health Defenders, an organization focused on advocating against stigma associated with mental illness and building communities where there is hope, justice, and help for those living with mental illness. I am passionate about justice and human rights, and having trained as a lawyer helps me work directly with grassroot communities in Uganda. What do you enjoy most about living here? What I love most about I-House is the welcoming environment. It’s a home away from home. I love meeting residents from all over the world. I enjoy going to the Dining Hall and meeting others. I also appreciate the “Upcoming Events” information shared on the digital boards [posted throughout the House]. It’s a great way to stay in the loop. Do you think your experience living at I-House will help you accomplish your goals? I believe my experience living at I-House will help me accomplish my goals because of the great community. I’ve met many wonderful people here that share the same interests as I do. When you share experience with others, you learn about what they do here and in their respective countries. These learning experiences can result to making the world a better place. Also, I was able to meet others here at I-House that are interested in Human Rights and have shared many opportunities. What is your favorite spot at I-House? I love my room so much! It is such a comfortable, spacious and warm space. I am able to do work and take meetings in a quiet environment. Thank you, Isabella! We are so glad to have you as part of our community.