International House Brings Cultural Diversity To NAU

What better way to bring cultural diversity and knowledge to a college campus than the International House at NAU.

Campus Heights, home of the international house at NAU. (Photo by NAU)

The International House, otherwise known as I-House is located in Campus Heights at Northern Arizona University. This apartment style dorm is home to a diverse community of international students, foreign language majors and anyone interested in learning about other cultures. Not only is the I-House conveniently located on campus, it is also a member of the International Houses Worldwide, Inc. IHWW is apart of 17 international houses around the world with the same mission to give college students the opportunity to live and learn in a multicultural environment.

Both American and international students here share a passion for global issues and have the opportunity to make lifelong friendships with people from various countries around the world. They can practice foreign languages with native speakers and participate in unique events and holidays together. However, because of the rare experience this dorm has to offer, every year the 200 spots fill up quickly. “It really helps build a cohesive community for our students who are in here so they are able to get out of their cultural zone more, they’re able to go out and actually explore and do things and make friends,” Campus Heights residence hall director, Camille Dhennin said.

Navajo Culture Night at the I-House, students play string games. (Photo by NAU)

Since 2007, NAU’s international population has exploded. In this past fall semester 1,246 students from over 70 countries enrolled. This growth caused the Center of International Education to start the I-House inside of the Calderon Learning Community back in 2012. With the growing demand and popularity, the I-House has extended to Campus Heights. In the first year the program started with 70 students and in the past two years has increased to almost 200. Having more international students on campus allows American students to gain global competency and be immersed in cultures other than their own. “It gives students whether they’re from the U.S. or from another nation a different perspective on the world…you can learn about other cultures while you’re here, it’s like the best kind of multitasking,” director of NAU’s global student life, Dylan Rust said.

Presentation being given on British Culture night at the I-House. (Photo by NAU)

The admissions process for the I-House is as follows, first submit the international house application which includes an essay portion where students can express their interest in this dynamic community. Next, if students have a good academic standing and are selected based on their essay answers, they will receive an acceptance letter by email. Lastly, there will be a meeting time where students can select their room assignments, both single and shared spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. “Part of the cool thing about studying abroad is these lasting friends that you make from all over the world and this community that we have really allows us to do that,” said Dhennin.

Opening in fall semester of 2015, the new International Pavilion will be the main host of I-House events. With over 9,000 square feet of space, this unique building will hold a student lounge, art gallery, game room and more. The International Pavilion will be a great place for I-House residents to mingle with their neighbors and participate in culture nights. It is a part of the university’s larger goal of global engagement and cultural understanding. “I’ll be running the pavilion…we’re really excited because we’re going to have an event space that can fit up to 300 people, we’re going to have student lounge areas for studying and relaxation…we can really do a lot there,” said Rust.