Imagine a place where students from 65 different countries come together to live and learn in a diverse, urban environment.
Now imagine being able to attend discussions and speeches that talk about other cultures, watch foreign films and listen to cultural music, all without ever leaving your house.
Move into Philadelphia’s International House. Located at 3701 Chestnut St., in University City, the House is a 12-story dormitory for foreign students, who attend school in Philadelphia.
It provides cultural, social and educational programs to help students adjust to life in America.
Oliver Franklin, president and CEO of the House, describes it as a “community of scholars and students, who come together to learn, but most importantly to promote mutual tolerance and respect of other cultures.” There are about 33 Temple students living in the International House, according to Glenn Martin, director of Residential Services and Programs. American students in Philadelphia can expand their horizons by learning about other cultures. The House provides a great atmosphere for foreign and American students to interact.
Each year, the House hosts many cultural programs and activities. This year the main featured program is “Ubuntu: The essence of South Africa.”
Activities so far have included South African wine tasting, an African drumming workshop, several films and a panel event featuring three South Africans, who spoke about their experiences growing up during apartheid in the nation. Most of the events are free for the public.
The House also co-sponsored a book signing of Memoirs, the autobiography of Ahmed Kathrada, who was Nelson Mandela’s prison confidante. Kathrada spoke about his life and book at the National Constitution Center in Center City.
In addition to sponsoring special events like “Ubuntu,” the House also displays photography exhibitions. Currently on display is “World Views from the Penn Lens,” which showcases Philadelphia photographs taken by international students and American students’ photographs of study abroad experiences.
Foreign films, foreign and American documentaries and avant-garde films and classic American movies are shown. Admission is $5 for students. These films feature perspectives from all over the world. Every month Cinema Tropical shows independent and mainstream films from Latin America.
Reelblack Presents is a series of movies promoting African American film. Other series promote other cultures, new ideas and demonstrate new ways to view films. The House also features mini-film fests of related movies. One of these is the upcoming Italian Film Festival, which runs from Dec. 6 to Dec. 10. Every night a different Italian movie will be shown. The House offers English classes for its international students, as well as French, Japanese, Arabic and Mandarin classes for those who are interested.
The House sponsors a Geographic Adventures trip for students in February to South Africa. Another trip to Ecuador is offered to graduate students and professionals, ages 21 to 40.
Morgan Ashenfelter can be reached at email@example.com.