One thing I love about the Displaced Nation is how often it shows me how much I don’t know.
One such occasion occurred when I was posting HE Rybol’s Culture Shock Toolbox column this past week (see link below). HE interviewed Joe Lurie, who used to run the International House on the University of California-Berkeley campus.

Wait, there’s an I-House in Berkeley? When living in Tokyo, I often attended events at the International House, aka I-House, which is centrally located (in Roppongi).

I never thought it was part of a “chain”—but now that you mention it, what a nice idea. For foreigners in Tokyo, I-House provides an oasis, a place where people of all nationalities can gather and are treated hospitably. It’s also a literal oasis from Tokyo’s concrete jungle. The facility is surrounded by a classical Japanese garden—which, as seen above, looks particularly beautiful during sakura season.

So, to whom do I owe my gratitude for the original I-House concept? To New Yorker Harry Edmonds, who, while working for the New York YMCA in 1909, had a chance meeting with a Chinese student on the steps of Columbia University’s library. His casual “good morning” provoked this response:
“I’ve been in New York three weeks, and you’re the first person who has spoken to me.”
The student’s words ultimately inspired Edmonds to team up with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to create the first International House in New York in 1924. Building on its success, Berkeley was selected as the next location as it had the largest number of foreign students on the West Coast.

International House Berkeley opened in August 1930, and the rest is history: there are now 17 I-Houses across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The one in Japan, which started up in 1952 with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, maintains a long-standing relationship with the original I-House in New York.

Who knew? And who also knew that a hundred years ago Americans were coming up with creative ways to be more welcoming to foreigners?  

—ML Awanohara

Photo credit: International House of Japan, by veroyama via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Looking to extend your horizons? What to do if you're in...

Singapore: No need to go to Japan for a glimpse of the seasonal cherry blossoms. Gardens by the Bay is hosting a floral display that includes cherry and peach blossoms in a traditional Japanese garden setting—complete with torii gate, bonsai arrangements, and the rousing beats of taiko drums. Through next Sunday, March 27.
Tokyo: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! It may be after the fact, but Asia’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place TODAY, for the 24th year running, along Omotesandō-dori. But please note: Smoking, drinking alcohol and high heels are “strictly prohibited.” Hm, but will you be able to kick up your heels? For that you may need to drop by the I Love Ireland festival in nearby Yoyogi Park.
Chicago: Get tickets for the “China’s First Emperor and his Terracotta Warriors” exhibition that opened this month at the Field Museum. You can learn all about what China was like circa 221, just as Qin Shihuangdi came to power. And although it's interesting to see the original terracotta figures that were created for his tomb, what's even more striking are the two replicas—one of a standing general and the other of a kneeling archer—that are painted in what researchers say are the original colors.

While we were all playing on social media...

Making trails again: Geneva-based American writer and psychotherapist Kristin Louise Duncombe has published her second memoir, Five Flights Up. Her first memoir, Trailing, chronicled her experience of being swept off her feet by an Argentinian Médecins Sans Frontières doctor. She abandoned her plans to set up a psychotherapy practice in New Orleans, following him to East Africa—which proved to be even more of an adventure than the couple had bargained for. In the second memoir, ten years have passed and Duncombe has established a successful Paris-based psychotherapy practice—only to find she must uproot herself from Paris to Lyon, again because of her husband’s job. The new book explores the challenges of managing two-career marriages and raising bicultural kids, along with the eccentricities of life in France.
Mother knows best: Mother of two and serial expat Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan has launched a new service called Mom Aboard. It connects parents who are planning an international move with local parents in their intended destination. The parent-ambassadors Bhojwani-Dhawan has recruited are mostly travel writers and bloggers with children.
A place for you? Yangon, Lapland, Belfast, Honshū Island, and Trieste are some of the places featured in the third issue of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place, edited by British expat writer in Berlin Paul Scraton. The official launch took place this past Wednesday in Berlin.
Gothic expat tales: Belfast-based filmmaker Ronan McCloskey has released the documentary Murder in Melbourne. Originally he hoped to capture the feelings of families who’d lost their loved ones in violent crimes abroad. He interviewed the surviving relatives of three Irish expats who were murdered in Melbourne, Australia, over a one-year period (2012-13). But then the film took another direction and ended up advocating for changes within the Australian justice system. As it turned out, all three murders were committed by men who were out on parole for serious crimes.
Updates from The Displaced Nation:

CULTURE SHOCK TOOLBOX: Expats, don’t let the cultural prism you carry around blind you to the most interesting facets of the experience
Transitions enthusiast H.E. Rybol consults with a world expert on cross-cultural communication for this month’s column. Hello, Displaced Nationers! This month I’d like to introduce you to Joe Lurie, Executive Director Emeritus of the University of California Berkeley’s International House. If you’re not familiar with it, I-House is a multicultural residence and program center…

Other recent posts:

LOCATION, LOCUTION: Writer Tracey Warr is a troubadour of medieval life, telling stories she collects from roaming far and wide

THE PERIPATETIC EXPAT: Where to next? The $64,000 question

BECAUSE WE (ALMOST) MISSED IT: Best of expat nonfiction 2015

TCK TALENT: Nancy Henderson-James, Missionary Kid in Angola, Librarian in North Carolina, and Author/Memoirist

REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK TOOLBOX: Expats, what kinds of tools do you need if you decide to repatriate?
Matters of debate:

Adult Third Culture Kids enjoy the freedom to constantly reinvent themselves. Precisely because they are rootless, ATCKs can be whoever they want wherever they go, points out the London-based Finnish-Senegalese freelance writer Ndéla Faye in a “Comment is free” post for the Guardian.
Repeat expats (“rexpats”) are more likely to dispose of their friends. This is not because they view people as objects or “disposable” but because the effort to maintain previous friendships is effort not put toward making new friends—and they deem the latter more important for rapidly adjusting to their latest home. 
Trailing Spouse Syndrome should be seen as a mere blip on the expat horizon. According to researcher Caroline Kjelsmark, accompanying partners tend to emerge from stress and discontent the moment they realize that being abroad provides a unique opportunity to reboot aspects of their lives they find dissatisfying.

Surprising discoveries:

Bilingual children—along with monolingual children who are regularly exposed to other languages—have superior social skills. They can consider someone else’s perspective when trying to interpret what people are saying, reports Cornell University psych prof Katherine Kinzler.
Spain may have fantastic food but it’s not the place to enjoy a quiet, romantic dinner with your beloved. As writer Carol Byrne, an Irishwoman who has lived in the village of Murtas (in Andalucía), for the past ten years, explains, kids stay up as late as everyone else and “are happily ignored as they scream and run in close proximity to your plate of prawns.”
J.K. Rowling has come under tremendous fire for writing about North American wizards and witches. Although the best-selling British author can't be faulted for her depiction of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, many readers, especially Native Americans, have objected to the first installment of her four-part series about the history of magic in North America on the grounds that it appears rooted in a misinformed understanding of Native traditions, reports Sameer Rao for Colorlines.
We hope you have a glorious week of international creativity. Please send any news, comments, colorful terracotta army replicas and authentic Native American magic spells to You can follow us on Facebook here and/or Twitter here for more frequent updates.

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