Introducing I-House Resident Events

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a restful summer and are feeling recharged for the upcoming school year. If you’re a new resident, welcome to I-House! For those who may not know what to expect, here is a comprehensive guide to some of the amazing events we have in store for you and some highlights from last year’s events!

I-House Welcome Week

At the beginning of the year, Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership & Programs hosts a “Welcome Week,” where residents have the chance to get to know each other, as well as learn about all the fun that Berkeley and the Bay Area have to offer! Last year, I really enjoyed meeting other residents during our trip to the BAMPFA, our ice skating event in Oakland, and on our hike to the Big C. Being an international student who had moved to the U.S. for the first time, on top of having spent my first year of college at home online with little to no social interaction, it was refreshing to be able to talk with others who had shared these experiences with me. I made some of my closest friends during Welcome Week and we still reminisce over our memorable first interactions, from slipping on the ice together to speculating over the fastest way to hike down a hill. These events are hosted by our lovely I-House Resident Assistants (RAs), who also do an amazing job of organizing various floor socials throughout the school year, where you can further get to know your floormates! 

Last year’s Welcome Week featured a BAMPFA visit, ice skating at Oakland and a Big C hike! Thank you Vighnesh N. for the hiking photos!

On August 24 there will be a mandatory Town Hall Meeting from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in our Chevron Auditorium, as well as a Coffee Hour Social from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Great Hall. We will also be hosting overnight New Student Orientation retreats from August 26 to 27 and August 27 to 28 at Green Mountain Retreat where you can make new friends and enjoy the great outdoors! Registration is open until August 19 and you can learn more and sign up at ihouse.berkeley.edu/retreats. More information about Welcome Week will be posted soon on the official 2022-23 Resident Group on I-House Berkeley Connect and the Resident Facebook group

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New to Berkeley? SWiiFTly make new Friends!

As a former I-House resident, I remember the rush of emotions from the excitement about a fresh start and the opportunity to meet new people in the US. I had just landed at my dream destination, filled with excitement for adventure, but I had so many questions. “Where do I start? What do the locals do? How can I meet people and tap into the culture?” Google definitely couldn’t answer that one. As a student traveler, I’ve often struggled to answer those questions due to the lack of accessible local expertise. This struggle inevitably led to a sense of frustration which I called travel FOMO. In moving to Berkeley, I was fortunate enough to have the I-House community, but not everyone gets the privilege to live at International House.

Personally experiencing this travel FOMO is what inspired me to team up with Max Monange and our Berkeley Skydeck team to create SWiiFT – a platform that connects travelers with locals to swiftly make new friendships abroad. Think about it: when was the last time you randomly connected with a local while you were abroad? For members of the SWiiFT community, that is the highlight of many trips. Might it be on a night out exploring Berlin’s nightlife, during a cultural expedition in Rome, or trying to find Indonesia’s finest surf waves, most travel lovers have had an encounter with a stranger abroad that changed the course of their trip for the better. On many occasions, those strangers have become life-long friends. The SWiiFT team has assembled a community of like-minded travelers and locals who thrive on travel’s inherent power to bring unlikely pairs together, and we’re launching an app to facilitate the process for our community. Our value proposition is simple: make local friends abroad and experience the best that any city has to offer thanks to your local’s expertise – all for free. We are excited to invite the I-House community to join before our launch in August!

Meet the SWiiFT Team

Back row, from left: Samuel Ruiperez-Campillo (me), Community Co-Lead; Aayushi Sanghi, Product lead; John Thomson, Finance Lead;
Front row, from left: Shanna Fitschzang, Marketing Intern; Max Monange, CEO; Jasmine King, Community Co-Lead

The SWiiFT app

Joining the SWiiFT community is easy! Take a short personality test and fill out a personalized traveler profile. That’s all the SWiiFT app needs to give you suggestions on which locals you’re most likely to be compatible with during your next trip. Our defining goal is to match the right users together. And our compatibility algorithm was designed to do exactly that. Combine the excitement of travel, new local friends, and their expertise, and your trip can’t go wrong. It’s never been that swift to make friends abroad!

Feeling bored in your hometown? Reverse the experience and become a local. Our app offers dual usability in a single click! You’ll meet travelers with compatible interests, personalities, and profiles visiting your city. Think about showing some Cal Bears what makes your hometown special! We enable our locals to expand their network of international friends and provide them with the opportunity to share the wonders of their home cities with the rest of the world.

On top of facilitating connections with locals abroad, the SWiiFT app acts as a social network for its traveler community. Picture this: You meet a witty local in Dublin and the two of you end up having a crazy pub crawl experience. Am I the only one this has happened to? Can’t be! Share your experience with the rest of the community on our dedicated feed page, in the form of a blog or picture post! Unlike traditional social media, the SWiiFT feed page was designed to be a safe social space for travelers and locals, to highlight new friendships and adventures from the community, in line with our core values at SWiiFT.

If all of that wasn’t enough, you can also use SWiiFT to help you plan your next trips. Looking to go to France next week? Just zoom into the Paris map to check out members of the community there. You’ll be able to start selecting your favorite locals even before having set foot in the City of Lights! Looking for a specific experience during your trip? Find a local with expertise! Filter locals by selecting one of SWiiFT’s five travel modes: food & drink, daylight city exploration, nightlife, cultural discovery, or group adventure. Not picky? Stay in free-mode and go for an improvised experience with a local. All in all, the app caters to your needs as a traveler. It’s truly personalized to the user. All you have to do is to be ready to meet awesome locals excited to share the true essence of their city with you.

Every user on the SWiiFT app has a verified profile, together with ratings and reviews to keep the platform a safe environment for its community. As the community scales up, the product team has additional safety features up its sleeve that they will be releasing to make sure every meeting experience goes as smoothly as possible, all while ensuring quality time.

The SWiiFT Team and the International House

One of the beauties of our team is that it is 100% UC Berkeley-made! The core team is a melting pot of five graduate students, from four different nationalities, who speak six different languages, and collectively have studied in eight different countries. What do we have in common? We’re all avid travelers who are passionate about sparking friendships between travelers and locals.

A couple of months into starting my Master’s at UC Berkeley, I met Max, who had laid down the foundation for SWiiFT and the SWiiFT app based on his life experiences. His stories were amusing and captivating! After having lived on three different continents and traveled to more than 40 countries during his teenage years, Max has built a network of international friendships from his experiences abroad and is now fortunate enough to have friends all over the globe. I resonated with him in many ways because of my diverse international background, having studied in three different countries, and frequently lived with the many problems that SWiiFT plans to solve. Together, we founded SWiiFT with a team of engineers and Max as CEO.

“Wherever I travel now, the odds are that I will have a couple of friends to take me out, show me around and have fun with. I rarely have to deep-plan my trips anymore. I just know I’ll have truly authentic experiences and lots of fun because I’ll be with my local friends. Our goal at SWiiFT is to give every traveler the opportunity to experience new destinations in that same manner.”

Max Monange

Max (right) with a local friend in San Diego

While living in the International House, I felt inspired by the values of respect and multiculturalism fostered in the community. Thus, the SWiiFT team decided to offer I-House residents the SWiiFT experience to help them make the most out of their time in the US.

What’s next? 

After spending the summer in the renowned startup accelerator program SkyDeck, SWiiFT will be releasing its app on the UC Berkeley campus in the fall. The team will be specifically focused on helping incoming Cal students find new local friends in Berkeley and San Francisco. Before you know it, SWiiFT will be coming to your city too!

In focusing on the incoming students at Cal, specifically international students, we thought that I-House residents would benefit, given the overlap in our values. This has been a great opportunity for us to test our value proposition of providing new students a genuinely local experience around Cal. Our first campus event was a hit! I-House residents loved it! If you or anyone else that you know is interested, our next I-House event will be on August 19. Be on the lookout! You don’t want to miss this next one!

If you’re a traveler and you love meeting new friends abroad, join the SWiiFT community. You can follow us on social media @swiift.app (Instagram / TikTok) to check out the awesome local tips we regularly post, SWiiFT (LinkedIn), to find out more about our launch events, or simply join their waitlist to download our app when it comes out this fall.  

And don’t forget… travel the right way, experience with locals.

Max and the I-House students getting to know some of the UC Berkeley traditions.
Our locals meet I-House travelers and show them their favorite spots on campus.
Some of the I-House summer residents on an I-House campus experience with SWiiFT locals.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or contact us on instagram @swiift.app.

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International House, A Veritable Social Bubble

(For French speakers, I have included a translation of this article in French below.)

Overlooking Berkeley’s Campus, high on Bancroft Way, stands an ivory-domed house with slightly Spanish architecture: International House at UC Berkeley. Funded in 1930 by the famous businessman John D. Rockefeller Jr, the building hosts approximately 600 residents from 60 different countries. 

International House, overlooking UC Berkeley Campus

The residents live on eight different floors, in single or double rooms. They share showers and bathrooms. The furnishings are simple, but everyone turns their room into their own, as the photos and memories accumulate over beds, desks, and dressers. 

International House, thanks to a community-thought design, allows residents to share warm common rooms: the Great Hall with its fireplace, comfy couches and giant TV, the game room, and the library, which is open 24/7 for residents.

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My 5 Favorite Things About I-House

My 5 Favorite Things About I-House, by Carina Samson

1. I-House is home to students of all ages from all around the world!

I-House is filled with both undergraduate and graduate students who represent over 70 countries, including the United States. Our residents are what makes I-House truly live up to its name, with 75% of the population being international, most of whom are living abroad from their families to attend UC Berkeley. The intimidating idea of living next to your Graduate Student Instructor may not initially be appealing to you, but rest assured it’s a fun and comical experience that you will definitely get used to. After all, being able to walk down the hallway to ask your neighbors for advice on job interviews and graduate school applications is super helpful!

I-House residents at our Global Photoshoot and Big Give Coffee Hour

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Big Give at I-House 2022

The Big Give was truly a day of celebration. The university-wide annual fundraising event was nothing short of exciting as students, faculty, alumni and other members of the Cal community came together to support the amazing programs and organizations that we have here at UC Berkeley by spreading awareness and giving. Current residents at I-House jumped in on the fun as well, kicking the day off with hosting a Big Give Coffee Hour in the Great Hall. Activities included resident performances, a premiere of a short film that I created, and a raffle for I-House merchandise, including a few of our limited edition 90th Anniversary I-House posters. 

Raffle winner Natalie Chan holding one of our 90th anniversary posters, residents gathering to watch my short film, the delicious snacks we had at the Coffee Hour, and Bryan Chang and Allen Mao playing on the grand piano

The Great Hall was decorated with beautiful posters and signs that said “Thank You” in different languages, representing the multitude of cultures that make up I-House. Residents stopped by to take some pictures with these signs, as well as enjoyed some snacks and refreshments during the event, including freshly baked cookies made by our wonderful chefs! 

Current I-House residents posing with “Thank You” signs in various languages

Throughout the day, residents also wrote notes on our Gratitude board with reasons for why they give to I-House, ranging from creating “lifelong friendships” to “random dining hall conversations.” 

Notes written by our residents on our Gratitude board

Big Give festivities didn’t stop at the Coffee Hour. Our social media ambassadors worked diligently to circulate our hashtags and spread awareness about our I-House fundraiser by participating in various social media contests on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I created a short film, Why I Give: An Ode to I-House, which reflected on the amazing experiences I’ve had at I-House so far. We heard back from alumni from all around the world who said that my video rekindled fond memories from when they used to live at I-House, which was really heartwarming!

My short film

Our I-House Resident Council also worked hard to promote the Big Give within our resident community by tabling during mealtimes, as well as organizing a beautiful viola and cello performance for residents to enjoy while eating dinner. Adam Brownell, the president of the I-House Resident Council, wrote a lovely message about why he is grateful for I-House and it was emailed to all of our alumni, friends, and fans.

Our hardworking resident council and Steve Shin and Breanna Yang performing a viola and cello duet at dinner

Ultimately, the Big Give was a huge success as we raised over $50,000 from 170 donors, reaching our goals of achieving 135 gifts and receiving donations from 138 unique donors. This allowed us to unlock both a $1,500 challenge gift from Cal and a $10,000 challenge gift from the I-House Board of Directors!

Thank you message from our I-House Board of Directors!

Our donations and completed challenges!

On behalf of the I-House community, thank you to everyone who supported us during the Big Give this year. We wouldn’t have this amazing institution without you!

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Support I-House Today During Our Cal Big Give Challenge

Dear I-House Community,

It’s time again for the “Big Give,” UC Berkeley’s 24-hour virtual fundraising event and we invite you to join in on the fun and excitement. This year during the Big Give, we’re beginning a celebration of I-House “Through the Decades.”  

For more than nine decades, I-House has been facilitating intercultural connections that transform lives and advance a more just and peaceful world. Your gift will help this important work continue. If you make your gift today before 9:00 p.m. (PST), your gift will help us meet this challenge and unlock an additional $10,000 from the I-House Board!

Make a gift between now and 9:00 p.m. (PST) and represent your era at I-House!

Or simply make your gift here. All gifts, regardless of size, make a big impact! And if you’ve already made a gift this year, thank you! We are grateful for your support.

You can also join in the fun and help us generate more awareness of I-House and the Big Give by sharing your favorite I-House memory representing your era on Twitter or Instagram and including #CalBigGive and #InternationalHouse. Or you can share photos and your favorite I-House memory via this form or by email to ihalumni@berkeley.edu. Select stories may be highlighted during Big Give and in our next newsletter. 

Now more than ever, our world needs the spirit of I-House. 

Thanks for your support!

Sincerely,

Shaun Carver, I-House Executive Director
Shaun R. Carver
Executive Director
International House at UC Berkeley

P.S. In the spirit of Big Give, you may also receive emails from other UC Berkeley programs today. Please forgive our enthusiasm — it’s for a good cause! And if you’ve already made a gift this year, thank you! We are grateful for your support.

P.P.S. Please help us to spread the word to other alumni and friends around the world. Share our Big Give link!

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Support I-House on Giving Tuesday During our Annual Appeal Season

Dear I-House Community,

On the occasion of Giving Tuesday, I would like to convey my personal thanks to our alumni and other supporters who have already provided financial contributions this fiscal year, including during our annual appeal. If you have not yet had an opportunity, we hope that you will consider supporting I-House and will make a gift now to help future residents have this singular opportunity to enjoy such a life-changing experience.

Please Make a Gift to I-House Now

In times like this where Asian hate crimes are becoming increasingly intense and prevalent, I want to spread the notion that the bigotry and exclusion manifested in our society today must be struck down and eliminated, a notion that Harry Edmonds, the founder of I-House, conceived and acted upon as he opened I-House New York in 1924.

Jooshim Kim,
Current I-House Resident

As a generous supporter who shares our mission, like Jooshim you have personally experienced the power of international fellowship. You have witnessed how a gift to I-House can create a world of opportunities and a lifetime of impact for our residents from around the globe.

Those who understand and have supported the ideals of International House know that, while age-old problems continue to persist, the solutions remain clear. What better solution to ameliorate global conflicts and crises, escalating tensions, and fears of confrontation than supporting the mission of I-House: fostering intercultural respect and understanding, lifelong friendships, and leadership skills for a more just and peaceful world?

The vibrancy, resilience, and strength of I-House traditions, community, and connections are a firm foundation. As you know, I-House, by design, brings together residents from different nations, religions, skill sets, and cultural backgrounds, and instills within them the desire to make the world a better place. With your help, we shall continue to provide the opportunity for residents to expand their horizons and embody the I-House magic!

Please give today to provide future global leaders like Jooshim the chance to learn, grow, and to enjoy the life-changing experience of I-House.

Your generosity provides critical resources that further the I-House vision of fostering a more just and peaceful world through broader intercultural understanding and mutual respect. Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,

Shaun Carver, I-House Executive Director
Shaun R. Carver
Executive Director
International House at UC Berkeley

PS – Thank you if you have given recently!  Your gifts are important to keep the I-House dream alive today, tomorrow, and forever. We are extremely grateful for all support, and very much appreciate that you would consider a gift during this pivotal time.


Due to potential mail delays, you may prefer to make your gift to I-House online at ihouse.berkeley.edu/donate, contact us at ihphilanthropy@berkeley.edu, or call (510) 642-4128 to speak with us about other ways of giving, including making a legacy gift in your estate plans.

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The I-House Connection: November 2021

Dear I-House Alumni and Friends,

In this issue of the I-House Connection, I’d like to highlight a food drive underway as an opportunity for Residents to support Afghan Scholars and their families.  As a glimpse into life at I-House in the waning days of Fall Term, our Social Media Ambassadors have created a compilation of some of the fun Halloween festivities here at the House, and a French Music playlist for your listening pleasure. In this issue, we also bid farewell to Jason Patent, Director of the Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership, and highlight an upcoming Cal Discovery Tour opportunity with Executive Director Emeritus Joe Lurie. 

Many thanks for all of your support.

Sincerely,

Shaun Carver, I-House Executive Director
Shaun R. Carver
Executive Director
International House, UC Berkeley

Continue reading: https://ihouse.berkeley.edu/news/i-house-connection-november-2021

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The I-House Connection: October 2021

View from the 7th Floor Lounge. Photo by Azza Chairannisa.

Dear I-House Alumni and Friends,

As the full October moon strives to shine through the welcome rain over the I-House dome, please join me in welcoming our new Social Media Ambassador, Louise Riche. In this edition of the I-House Connection, please enjoy a short video “Glimpse of Life at I-House” and a compilation of favorite memories shared on our Global Community platform. We’d love to hear your I-House stories too, and welcome you to participate at ihberkeleyconnect.org.

Sincerely,

Shaun Carver, I-House Executive Director
Shaun R. Carver
Executive Director
International House, UC Berkeley

Continue reading: https://ihouse.berkeley.edu/news/i-house-connection-october-2021

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Alumni Spotlight: Manuel Schulze and Torben Fischer

Happy Earth Day!

Some I-House alumni have taken the skills they learned at UC Berkeley to parts of the world where local communities are suffering due to the neglect of the environment. For this year’s Earth Day, I’d like to highlight two such alumni, Manuel Schulze (IH 2013-14) and Torben Fischer (IH 2013-14), who won a $10,000 cash grant from Davis Projects for Peace, a contest that supports grassroots projects around the world. Manuel and Torben envisioned a cleaner world when they started Recycle Up! Ghana in 2014.

I recently caught up with Manuel and Torben on Linkedin and I’m happy to report that their peace project has been a great success!

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