Maggie Harrison

PhD - Kosciuszko Foundation Fellow, Visiting Lecturer at Brown University, from Poland, via Canada

Current resident at International House

In the age of technology where so many transactions and social exchanges take place in a virtual space, when knowledge of the world appears to be at our fingertips, the International House of Rhode Island remains a bastion of international friendship and human interactions taking place in real time and space.  It's a place where each and all are welcome.

It is for this reason specifically, I believe, that IH fulfills a very important and valuable role in our community.  For Brown University's international students students and their families, it is a safe place to meet and make contacts with people of their own and other cultures, to learn about life in the US, and even to practice their language skills.  To the citizens of Rhode Island, it is a window to the world, where foreign cultures and cuisine, as well as the languages, come alive, becoming more than just textbook chapters or Wikipedia definitions.

I have been a part of the IH family for two years now.  As a visiting lecturer at Brown University, I have a job the nature of which is rather precarious.  Renting an apartment for an entire year would be quite problematic, especially given the fact that I spend summers teaching in other states (e.g. Indiana, Texas).   The International House has become a home away for home for me, not only with the comforts of daily life (cozy, furnished room, big kitchen with all necessary cooking utensils, etc.) but because of the people who make it.  (There is certainly the benefit of the proximity to campus, to student life and other College Hill amenities and attractions.). From the tenants, to the staff, the House is full of the kind of people of good will.  For those of us far away from home, it is the people who matter the most and who are the most precious aspect of this organization, of this House.

It is impossible to place a monetary value on the importance of the IH in our community - both Brown and Rhode Island.  It's mission, hospitality, and enduring presence over decades, make it a one-of-a-kind place at the heart of which lie the friendliness and warmth of the IH Staff.  Though it may appear to be a relic of the days gone by, the IH is a magical place because of its character and ambiance.  In my opinion, the House in a quiet and unassuming way adds to and compliments the atmosphere of Brown University as a learning institution of great renown and as a welcoming place of intellectual and cultural exchange.  We are truly fortunate to have it nearby.