Faces of International House

"We ran away from two wars. We came here with nothing but our suitcases and the jeans we were wearing. We believe in giving people an opportunity to get started. International House is a steppingstone for newcomers. You give them a start and they will begin walking, then running. When they say, ‘Live the American dream,’ we lived it."

Tony Bikhazi, Lebanon
Lakana Bikhazi, Thailand
International House Donors

“Life without family is a house without light; it is dark all the time. From dark to light, that is what International House did for my life. They reunited me with my family.”

Asgedom Kidane, Eritrea
Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic Client

“I wanted the universal freedom and protections that come with citizenship. The reception I got at International House was outstanding. People care enough to listen to your story and help you out. You have a sense of belonging. A week after I got my citizenship, I bought the attorney flowers. It was the least I could do.”

Gaulbert Taplah, Liberia
Client with the Immigration Law Clinic and recent U.S. Citizen

“I came to visit my daughter and she told me about International House. I am going back soon, but in the U.S. you have to know English.”

Jorge Ayala, Ecuador
Student with the Adult Education Program

“I met all of my first friends in Charlotte through this program.”

Teresa Hu and Minae Tada
Tutor and Student with the English Tutoring Program

“International House feels like home. We are all different, but we all share the same experience.”

Olimpia Maistro, Brazil
Student with the Adult Education Program

“I came to this country when I was seven, and I couldn’t speak a word of English. I know how it feels. I just want to help these children. I love working with them; their energy and enthusiasm are captivating.”

Claudia Kuete, Dem. Rep. of Congo,
Tutor with Rising Readers

“Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what International House is because we do so many things. But if we are a doorway to the world for the people of Charlotte, we are also a doorway to Charlotte for the people of the world. It is as simple as that.”

Carmen Hilton, Spain
Vice Chair of the Gala Committee

Rahel: “I was so happy! All my family had citizenship and I didn’t, but I knew I needed to get it. Everybody was voting and I said, ‘I need to vote, I need to be a citizen, an American.’ ”

Sandy: “She was smiling so big, and she gave me a big hug. I felt over the moon. There’s a really big payback from tutoring. You get to help somebody become a citizen. It’s really rewarding. I get more out of it than I give.”

Sandy Hill, USA, and
Rahel Seifu, Ethiopia
Tutor and Student with the Citizenship Tutoring Program

“I decided to take part in citizenship tutoring because as an immigrant I know how hard it can be to absorb so much knowledge about a culture and society totally different from your own. Every little bit helps and donating my time is the least I could do.”

Erica Ceballas and Lana Sheikha
Student and Tutor with the Citizenship Tutoring Program