International Houses Provide Small Slices of the World


Viola Mai

French Labor minister, Muriel Penicaud, spoke at NYU’s Maison Francaise on March 11th. (Photo by Viola Mai)

Lindsey Alpaugh, Contributing Writer

Just north of Washington Square Park, there is a quiet row of mews — stables-turned-houses — tucked away from the rush of the city. While the street might seem more peaceful than the surrounding area, this collection of houses is one of the busiest and often overlooked parts of the NYU campus.

The Washington Mews is home to many of NYU’s international houses, which span continents: the Africa House, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo, China House, Deutsches Haus, Glucksman Ireland House, Jordan Russian Center, Kevorkian Center, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center and La Maison Francaise each has a home on campus.

Preparations are underway for the Deutsche Haus’ 40th anniversary celebration. In addition to the party, the Deutsches Haus hosts events like “Art and Friends: Measuring Time,” a collaborative exhibition with the Chelsea Film Festival. According to Juliane Camfield, the Director of Deutsches Haus, it also has language classes available to the general public as well as other cultural programming.

“Deutsches Haus at NYU serves as a platform for encounters between artists, writers, scientists, thinkers and academics engaged with the German-speaking world and the general public,” Camfield said.

LS sophomore Ava Vecellio, who plans to study German, is new to the city and hopes that the Deutsches Haus will provide both education and community.

“I’m so excited to get to visit Deutsches Haus and learn more about the culture of Germany while also having fun and meeting new people,” Vecellio said.

Deutsches Haus offers the community the ability to learn German, Swiss and Austrian a mere block away from Washington Square Park.

Most international houses are accessible not only to students, but also to anyone in the city who wishes to engage with a certain culture. They also collaborate with NYU departments beyond the respective deparments, different cultural institutions and NYU abroad sites.

According to Kingsley Essegbey, the Research Scientist and Assistant Director of Africa House, the house is a center of diplomacy and research that connects scholars who work in fields from music to economics.

“We are able to collaborate with a wide pool of Africanist faculty and students who do research in a variety of disciplines,” Essegbey said. “We also benefit from access to the NYU campus in Accra and through our NYU Center for Technology and Economic Development Research Center in Kumawu.”

Africa House also operates as a gathering place for different voices within the diverse community at large, extending beyond the idea of culture but also touching on the political side of African identity. The house organizes events like the June 9 Presidential Town Hall with H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Afuko-Addo, the president of Ghana.

Over 450 attendees listened to his keynote address and participated in a Q&A session with the president. The Africa House has brought in other heads of state in the past for special town hall meetings and presidential forums.

With a huge array of programs and resources readily available, NYU’s international houses serve not only as a welcoming space to students of different cultures but also as bastions of knowledge and discussion for a greater community outside of the university.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 18 print edition. Email Lindsey Alpaugh at [email protected].

Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the Deutsches House as Deutsche House and the name of Deutsches House Director Juliane Camfield as Juliana Camfield.