To continue on Gabrielle’s post from yesterday, I also want to share how awesome the retreat is. Before we start, let me introduce myself quickly.
My name is Joël Thai and I grew up in Paris, France. I went to Berkeley to do research in Environmental Engineering and I had a wonderful time living at International House. Actually, I am sure you have already seen me, at least a photo of me on the I-House website. On the Room & Board Rates/Descriptions page the single room in the picture is where I lived for a year, and I still remember my move-in!
It turns out it was exactly four years ago, yes, on a sunny Saturday, August 21, 2010. After picking up my key in the Chevron Auditorium I headed to my room, and I realized that this place was different, but the good kind of different. I had traveled around the world extensively, but seeing all these faces, hearing all these languages, and having all this diversity under one roof, I knew it was going to be an exciting place to live. I only had a short time to unpack, say Hi to my neighbors from New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, and many more countries… because it was time to go on the retreat!
The retreat is definitely one of the must-do traditions of the International House life and I think Gabrielle did a great job covering the main reasons you should go. It is much more than just a fun weekend in beautiful California, it is also a great gift given to you! It is an opportunity to meet your new I-House friends, learn other cultures, share your passions, and open your eyes to the world. It is also an opportunity to see how rich and strong diversity is at I-House. For instance, after introducing ourselves one by one, we realized that our group had people in a wealth of fields and that we could speak in 50+ languages, how awesome is that?
There are tons of activities to do and help you bond with your I-House buddies! My favorite one was bundling up around a campfire, savoring s’mores, and watching the stars, while having endless and exciting conversations with my new friends. I remember staying until very late. With Cynthia from Hong Kong, Felix from South Korea, and Peter from Germany, we were the last people to go to bed. I met a lot of people at the retreat and many of them became my best friends at Berkeley. Although we are all in different countries and scattered around the globe now, we still keep in touch. This retreat was the start of a new adventure I have been sharing with friends from all over the world. Believe me, you will create many friendships that will last for a lifetime, and you will discover what it means to be part of this fantastic I-House family!
So you know what will you do this weekend, right? On my end, a few friends from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and I are going to Amsterdam. How do we know each other? You guessed it, we met at the retreat and we have been meeting up many times since then. With that being said, thank you for reading and go have a blast at the retreat!