Being the Other: International House creates community

By The Beacon | February 13, 2014 2:02am

Kim Turner |

Anyone who has traveled away from their home country knows the feeling of being the other. This feeling can be both exciting and disconcerting. To suddenly be thrust into a group where you are the foreigner, to be identified at times solely by your nationality, is an experience in which you may feel special and unique but also outcast and misunderstood.

Yet many people do not even have to leave their home country to be singled out as different, unacceptable even. I have experienced being the other within my own town, school and even home. I feel fortunate to have found a community that has accepted me for who I am at the International House.

The International House is a place where many different languages are spoken, where meals with many ethnic foods are served and engaging conversations take place. I am not the only one who has come to recognize the International House as a warm and accepting space, where people come to participate in events, such as international film nights, to celebrate holidays and just to hang out. Many of us involved in the International House community have been defined by our differences, and have often felt tossed aside. We find acceptance in the International House community, where our differences serve to unify us.

Due to changes made by Residence Life, the International House will continue unofficially next year in Haggerty/Tyson in two separate units. With the option to move off campus, we felt that the house would be less accessible to students on campus who do not live in the house, but who enjoy spending time there. Although we will not be one unified, official house, we hope to continue the existence of a space that, as one of my fellow housemates puts it, “is neither ‘othered’ nor ‘othering.’”

Kim Turner is a junior secondary education and Spanish major. She can be reached at