By: Denise Long, Executive Director
The ancient Roman god, Janus, the namesake of the month of January, had one face looking backward and another gazing forward into the future. New year celebrations all over the world seem to have this same quality of reflecting on the past and hoping for happy days ahead.
As I consider the past year at International House, I am struck by the fact that we have been at our new home in the Midwood International & Cultural Center for over a year now. It has been a remarkable feat to transform an empty former high school into a vibrant campus of cultural, international, and civic organizations serving the Charlotte community. We could not have done it without the hard work, perseverance, and “can do” spirit of many people. I am immensely grateful for the efforts of Monte Ritchey, Tony & Lakana Bikhazi, the International House Board of Directors and staff, and the generous donors who made it possible. Last January, the auditorium was filled with hundreds of people who attended our first Open House, as we celebrated with food and cultural performances from several of our Midwood tenants. Stay tuned for our 2014 Open House later this spring!
International House blossomed in 2013 with more offerings of ESL and citizenship classes, better services for our legal clients, new partnerships with international visitor programs such as the recent collaborative venture with the Charlotte School of Law for annual delegations of Turkish judges, and an expansion of our summer English tutoring program for children that reached almost 200 students at 3 schools. We also added new languages to our roster of Language Conversation Hours, with Arabic and Turkish the most recent additions. Cultural programs in 2013 offered something for everyone: Doorways, our monthly social group for international women, an international book club, and a variety of events ranging from Gypsy/Roma music and dance to our popular international potluck “Front Porch Party”.
Indeed, 2013 was a good year for International House and for the thousands of people who found the legal or educational help they needed, met a new friend, or gained a better understanding of global culture. But, like Janus, we are also facing into a bright new year. So much lies ahead in 2014. I hope you will join us for the ride!