– “iHouse is Your House!” tour and open house brings students together at UMSL
PHOTO:  The entrance to UMSL’s north campus. Photo by Cate Marquis for The Current 2012 ©


By Siyun Zhang, Staff Writer for The Current

The University of Missouri – St. Louis has always opened doors when it comes to supporting and developing multi-cultural life on campus. Recently, the International House (more commonly known as the iHouse) threw their doors wide open for the “iHouse is Your House” tour and open house event. The event, which took place on August 29 from 2 to 5 p.m., was open to all members of the UMSL community interested in learning more about the iHouse and intercultural interaction at UMSL. Those in attendance had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world. Attendees were also treated to a large selection of international snacks, each representing different countries and cultures.

The iHouse is staffed by international student leaders, whose job it is to welcome new international students while promoting intercultural interaction between all UMSL students. Student leaders are also responsible for planning, publicizing and hosting events, in addition to acting as a mentor for international students, as well as to any UMSL student seeking to become more culturally aware. During the “iHouse is Your House” event, student leaders introduced iHouse to everyone present, sharing background information about the residence and answering questions.

The current iHouse student leaders are Christopher Fortson, senior, foreign languages and culture, from U.S.A; Judy Abduba, junior, communication, from Kenya; and Nora Jyane, senior, economics, from France. As iHouse student leaders, they all have different focus areas. Fortson is the Student Group Liaison, responsible for contacting and communicating with other organizations and departments on campus. Abduba is responsible for marketing, which includes publicizing and promoting iHouse events. Jyane is the event coordinator, taking care of all scheduling needs as well as keeping record of all events and activities. Beyond being a residential house for international students, iHouse is also available to rent for events.

One point that was made very clear during the course of the afternoon is that iHouse is not only for international students. Intercultural interaction is a main focus of the residence, and anyone is welcome to attend iHouse events or to stop by and visit.

“The main purpose of the International House tour was to promote [iHouse] as a residential house, and also to show where we are located. [We want] to promote cross-cultural interaction,” Abduba said. “We have a good variety of students. We have international students, and we have some American students who come to our events.”

Yue Yan, sophomore, accounting, is a new international student from China who attended the iHouse tour and open house event.

“I am so glad to meet new friends here,” Yan said. “I really like the snacks from Taiwan. I’ve even found a great Spanish tutor here who can help me out [with] listening problems.”

The iHouse hosts a weekly study session from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Sunday. During the session, students can discuss academic problems, or just sit and talk with others and make new friends. All UMSL students are welcome to attend.

“[The iHouse] creates spaces for intercultural interaction between all UMSL students,” Christina Pope, international student advisor and admissions officer of the Office of International Studies & Programs, said.

The offices of Residential Life and Housing and International Student & Scholar Services worked together to launch iHouse in 2010 in an effort to promote intercultural interaction between UMSL students; the iHouse has remained committed to serving and strengthening the community ever since.

The iHouse is located at 8026 Natural Bridge Road, across from Benton Hall and the main campus entrance and next to Normandy United Methodist Church and Preschool. To stay up-to-date regarding upcoming events, visit the UMSL International House on Facebook at facebook.com/umsl.intlhouse.

©  The Current 2013