“If more people in the world had an opportunity to live in the International House, the world would be a better place. When people from around the world live together under one roof, we start to know each other as individuals.” — I-House Director Leann Cherkasky Makhni
It was 1981. Bob Aron was a local student majoring in jazz. Yvette Young was from Panama and pursuing a degree in industrial management. For her, it made sense as a student from abroad to live at the International Center, now known as San Jose State’s Phyllis Forward Simpkins International House, or I-House.
Aron ended up there almost as a fluke. When a friend who enrolled at SJSU the year before sent a dorm deposit to the wrong place, he ended up with a spot reserved in the International Center instead of the residence halls. Aron visited his friend and thought it looked like a nice place to live, so he signed up, too. Aron and Young have been married almost since the time they lived in I-House.
“I grew up in the ’80s in California (when it wasn’t as diverse),” Aron says. “It was the first time I met someone from Bangladesh. You start to realize how little you know.”
In August 2018, Aron, ’85 Music, and Young, ’84 Industrial Management, gathered with 200 alumni and their family members who traveled from 20 countries—and represented a total of 40 countries—to celebrate I-House’s 40th anniversary.
Located on 11th Street, the house is noticeable for both the many columns that adorn the front porch and the flags that fly from the rooftop. I-House was founded in 1978 by SJSU alumni Alan and Phyllis Simpkins, who were actively involved in the development of the housing program and maintenance of the facility. They donated the building to the SJSU Research Foundation in 1997. Around 4,000 students have resided in the home since it opened.