Written By Blaire Edgerton
As it turns out, I’ve learned that my best, most creative writing often comes precisely when I should be writing something else. This is to say that I should be writing a seven page paper right now on the effects of the 2010 BP oil spill and the crisis communications plan employed (or rather, not employed) by the company, but alas, writing about my time at the International Student House seems much more appealing and certainly much more worth my time. Thus, on a related note, it appears that my legacy will continue to lie not in literature or ideas, but in the dedication with which I put off my grad school assignments. Sorry, Mom and Dad.
Anyway, back to the International Student House. Nestled on the corner of 18th and R in bustling DuPont Circle, ISH is a place where all things are possible. I say this in all sincerity. I arrived at the House on a hot and humid day in August of 2013 amidst the commotion of dinner in the main hall. I briefly debated submitting to my introverted tendencies and sitting quietly in the corner and scrolling through Facebook to see all the cool ways my friends were quote “living it up,” but then I realized that sort of undermined my whole move to Washington, D.C. to quote “live.” So I sat down next to a boy (from Iran) and a girl (from Mexico) who ended up becoming two of my closest friends. And that, kids, is how the magic happens. Just kidding.
All joking aside, what I really want to emphasize is that the International Student House is a place filled with dedicated students and young professionals who are some of the most ambitious people I’ve had the good fortune of meeting. During my time at the House, I came across countless people – a vibrant social activist from Ukraine; a water polo playing, public policy scholar from Serbia; an up and coming entrepreneur from Manhattan; a trilingual master’s student from Spain, just to name a few – that constantly inspired and intellectually stimulated me. It is said that everyone has a story to tell and I am confident that there is no better place to witness this than at the House.
During my time at ISH, I formed friendships with people from all over the United States and all over the world. While we had differences in communication, clothing and culture as a whole, we bonded over universal truths: that weekends are meant to be enjoyed; that basketball is basketball despite your home country; and that few things beat sharing a cup of coffee with friends in the garden at ISH. On countless occasions, I discussed topics such as Foucault, Christianity, and the current state of the Middle East, but there were an equal number of days spent debating the best froyo flavor at nearby Mr. Yogato’s or concluding that no, the Chinese do not in fact serve fortune cookies at the end of every meal (thanks for that one, Jonathan). At the end of the day, the International Student House reveals a curious and insatiable youth, the young leaders of tomorrow who will work to solve problems and create kinder, better communities in countries all across the world. It is a house bristling with the possibility of tomorrow.
On a personal note, during my time at the House I began working as an Advance Associate for the White House and my life quickly became a series of travels across regions of both the United States and the world. I went from Dallas and Boston to Wales and Burma and cities and countries everywhere in-between. In a way, I had already been prepared for the cultural differences that awaited me: Tampa greeted me with the heat wave that my friends had long been trying to describe; Delhi boasted the best naan I’ve ever had; and Paris, well- I could write a book on everything that Paris has to offer. My job kept me on the go but the House stayed with me on my travels every step of the way.
I think that’s the most important takeaway from the International Student House in general. It’s that the people you meet (and the friendships you form) will likely last you a lifetime. At the close of another year or the end of a school semester, you and your friends will come and go from the House but the experiences you’ve shared will be the memories you cherish moving forward. At the end of the day, these kinds of experiences are what ISH is all about. I hope you experience it for yourself.