Once an I-House resident, forever an I-House resident.
That’s why during my days at the I-House Front Desk I receive so many visits of people who 10, 20, 30, 40, 44 years ago spent some time between these walls and still have beautiful memories to share with families and friends.
I have learned to recognize I-House alumni from many different signs. They come in with their backpacks as they usually visit from other cities, states and, frequently, countries. They have the relaxed, warm smile of people coming home. They look up to the new entrance and our conversations frequently start with one same question: “Is this new? It wasn’t here when I was living at I-House and Front Desk staff used to freeze in winter and boil in summer!” We laugh and I am thankful for the new Front Desk.
Then they tell me their story and introduce me to their husbands or wives (so many people met at I-House and married shortly after) and to their kids and relatives. They want to wander around in search of that particular corner where they used to hang out with their international friends. They walk to the Hall of History, inspect the patio, breathe a bit of the old good atmosphere, remember those magic years of their early youth, then live full of renewed memories of their time in Berkeley.
Professor Arun K. Jain, who now teaches Marketing Research at the University of Buffalo, visited a couple of days ago. Wearing the friendliest smile, he told me about many evenings spent listening to music in the Great Hall while he was living at I-House, almost 44 years ago. He said he was “back to the nest” courtesy of his graceful daughter who wanted to take him back to I-House with his wife.
Madeleine Wulffson, an artist and a very nice and warm lady, came to I-House last week. She recalled so many nice moments here at I-House from where she left several years ago to travel around the world. She lives in Rome now and while we were talking, we figured out we had been neighbors without knowing it back in the day, when I was still living in Rome and working as a reporter. Only few doors between our apartments back in Rome. The world is really small sometimes. We talked and laughed and then hugged each other. And that was another of I-House’s amazing gifts!