All that’s left is a green space behind Ferguson. Years ago, the campus’ original I-House fell into disrepair and was removed. The modern language department has been trying different living quarters ever since.
Next year, the I-Space, which currently houses 12 students, will be moving from the third floor of Whitehouse to the Fiske annex. Applications were accepted last week, March 12, by language department professors.
“We’ve tried different models with Whitehouse and the Annex,” said Dianne Guenin-Lelle, French professor. “With us having Fiske house that is right across the street from our department, we see this as an opportunity for new kinds of programing. The fact that it coincides with our [Albion’s] global theme year makes it a very timely decision.”
The house will hold approximately 21 foreign language students.
“I think the language department has been interested in getting their own space back since the actual I-House was removed,” said Tina Griffith, Interim Resident Hall Director of Operations. “It’s been a combined effort to look at what is going to be the best option on campus for them to get to have their own space.”
The I-Space concept has existed on campus for over 40 years. This move from Whitehouse to Fiske will better allow the department to form a community for their Language students.
“In Whitehouse, we shared space with the general student population and it limited our programming,” Guenn-Lelle said. “In Fiske, our programming can be more integrated into the whole experience, rather than living in the residence hall.”
The function of the I-Space is to encourage friendships amongst language students, advance their speaking abilities, and promote cultural activities.
“Perla and I only work with the Spanish students,” said Mario Carrillo, Spanish T.A. “We do a cultural activity each week. The types of activities are mainly activities that show and portray our culture. It could be cooking, some kind of historical events, music, [or] holidays.”
Students are expected to speak their language of study whenever in the I-Space.
“It all depends on the students,” Carrillo said. “The ones that make a big effort [advance their speaking abilities]. That’s why we’re there. To encourage them and to help them with what they know.”
Other academic institutions hold Albion College in high regard for this type of programing.
“While there are many different kinds of living and learning residences related to languages’ departments, we still get contacted because we are considered a model,” Guenin-Lelle said. “A model relative to programming, to connections with the department, having our native speakers live there, and the fact that it’s a required component for a major or minor in a language.”
Friendships made from this student experience last years and span the globe.
“As a matter of fact, I had a sister-city activity in Noisy (-le-Roi, France),” Guenin-Lelle said. “I met a married couple who had been married for 40 years and they met in the I-House. He’s French and she’s Japanese.”
Photo provided by Ben Iwen, staff photographer.