News from International Student House, Washington, DC
May 2012
ISHues Header A
Tom O'Coin
Dear Friends of ISH:


Welcome spring! 


This May, ISHues brings news of celebrations ahead, of ISH alumni and current residents, and a review of winter activities that demonstrate the continued vitality of the House as an energetic international community.


In this issue, resident Fatimah Ahmed, in her interview with contributing editor Deborah Hefferon, discusses her plans to address health care issues in developing countries and reminds us of the value of the House as a place of friendship and support.  Resident Ebenzer Tadeo, the House's winner of a prestigious Davis Prize for 2012, tells editor Selby McPhee about his winning service project.  Alumna Sahar Fathi '05 is running for public office in Seattle - read on for the inside story. 



CALL FOR STORIES... as we work toward expanding our alumni base, we want to hear from you!  Have you maintained valuable connections with other ISH alums?  Has your relationship grown into a successful business endeavor?  Have you developed a partnership that has benefitted your community or beyond?  We want to hear from you.  Please email Judy Singer, ISH's Director of Development, at with your story.



Friday, June 1 and Thursday, October 11. The first is for the ISH Spring Garden Party on Friday, June 1, and the second is for the 2012 ISH Gala, a 100th birthday party for the Meserve/Lloyd house, our main building.  (See below for details.)  


Finally, WE NEED YOUR HELP in doubling our electronic network of alumni. We are  so pleased to be in touch with you, but we want to widen the net.  To that end, we would like to ask you to encourage people in your own ISH alumni network to join us here on our e-mail list.  To do so, please forward this newsletter and ask your alumni friends to click on the 'join our email list' button on the blue bar to the right.


I hope you enjoy this edition of ISHues!


Tom O'Coin

Executive Director

Cherry Tree

You are cordially invited to the...

International Student House 
Friday, June 1, 6:30 pm 

 Put on your party shoes and join ISH  residents, staff, and board members for wine and hors d'oeuvres in the beautiful garden at the House's Spring Garden Party. This is always a convivial seasonal event, but this year it will be even more so.  To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees to Washington, DC, his excellency, the Ambassador of Japan and Mrs. Fujisaki, will join us to plant a cherry tree in the garden.  What could be more appropriate for our international home in Washington?  And what a wonderful way to enhance a beautiful retreat for ISH residents!

For more information, contact Judy Singer, Director of Development, at

ISH Resident Wins Prestigious Davis Peace Prize 

ISH resident  Ebenzer Tadeo has been awarded $10,000 from the David Peace Project to fund a sports diplomacy project on the Thai-Myanmar border during the summer of 2012.  Ebenzer's winning proposal includes a training program in coaching for college athletes, followed by a 10-day young adult sports camp (at which the newly trained coaches will coach young Burmese refugees and local Thais in basketball, volleyball and local sports) in the vicinity of Burmese refugee camps along the border between Myanmar and Thailand.

The project was designed to promote humanitarian understanding and peace between young adult Burmese refugees and local Thais.  Burmese are present in Thai refugee camps as a result of human rights violations by the Burmese military junta, which has driven many Burmese across the Thai border.  Now the Thai government has begun talking about returning refugees to Myanmar, and some local Thais are resentful of the presence of refugees in their midst.  This conflict was the inspiration for Ebenzer's project, which is designed to help Thai and Burmese young adults come to know each other and find common interests through sports.

The Davis Peace Projects are the brainchild of internationalist Kathryn Wasserman Davis who in 2007 announced that she would celebrate her 100th birthday with a donation of $1 million to underwrite 100 projects designed by students that would promote peace around the world.  Feeling that it is now the young people who will bring "new ideas and fresh energy to improve the prospects for peace" around the world, she offered the opportunity students at colleges and universities connected with the Davis United World College Scholarship Program,  and then extended the opportunity to international student houses as well.  Davis was so pleased with the outpouring of ideas in 2007 that she has continued to underwrite the Projects with each succeeding birthday.  She is now 104 years old.

 Ebenzer, an international finance and business major from San Francisco State University, is a candidate for a master's degree in government with a concentration in strategic security studies at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.  At the same time he is working in the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.  Trained in sports and athletic coaching, he holds a degree in sports management from Chabot College in California. Ebenzer also has extensive international service experience at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines and at the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Long term, Ebenzer says his goal is to become Secretary of the Navy - but that is a story for another article!
Senator Chuck Hagel
Senator Chuck Hagel

ISH Gala 2012: Happy Birthday to the Mansion!!!
Sen. Chuck Hagel, China Jessup to be Honored 

 Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 11, 2012, when ISH will celebrate the 100th birthday of the Meserve/Lloyd House, which serves as the main building of International Student House, Washington.  We are planning an event that will do justice to this Tudor-style mansion with its stunning medieval-style Burling Hall, modeled after Haddon Hall, a medieval manor house in Yorkshire, England.  The house was built in 1912 by the American architect Wolcott Clarke Waggaman for the family of Henri Meserve, an international banker from Boston.  The evening will includ coecktails and sumptuous hors d'oeuvres in the Garden and in Burling Hall.

ISH's 2012 Global Leadership Award will be presented at the Gala this year to Chuck Hagel, former senator from Nebraska, in recognition of his distinguished work in the international community both as senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, and as chairman of the Atlantic Council, among many other international advisory positions.

The House will also honor board member China Jessup  with the presentation of the ISH Lifetime Service Award, recognizing her more than 30 years of service on the ISH Board of Trustees, including two as President. Among Ms. Jessup's many career and volunteer experiences, she spent two tours of duty with her husband in Israel, and while there became involved with the Ramallah Friends School  in Ramallah, Palestine, a school teaching Quaker nonviolent resistance and peacemaking along with its educational curriculum. 

Look for more information to come about the ISH 2012 Gala on the ISH Website and in your mailbox.  And start blowing up birthday balloons for the party!

Meet Fatimah Ahmed, Citizen of the World 

ISH resident, Fatimah Ahmed, has an impressive list of goals, one of which is to introduce the best image she can for her country, Saudi Arabia, and Arab culture in general. Her mantra, "Be yourself," is helping her to represent her country in a positive and natural way.


After Fatimah received her BS in microbiology, she studied English at Georgetown University for eight months while living with a host family. Then she was accepted into the two-year master's degree program in biotechnology at the Catholic University of America.  Moving into ISH happened at the same time.


"ISH is the best choice for me. Since coming to the U.S., I've lived alone and with an American family. Although they were good experiences, ISH is where I want to stay until I graduate next year.  Sometimes I've had a bad day and then I go to the dining room and talk to other residents from India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Japan, China, Tunisia  . . .  and I feel better! They encourage me."


Fatimah explains that the best part of living at ISH is the opportunity to socialize. "It gives me a chance to improve myself. I learned that I am social - I didn't know that about myself before."


So, what about her other goals? "My career goals are to work in developing countries to advance their health systems, set up educational programs, and represent these to the Gulf countries to get some economic sponsors. If I get the chance to complete my education, I will be specialized in breast cancer, vaccination, or non- symptomatic diseases."This summer Fatimah hopes to do an internship with a pharmaceutical company or hospital. After graduating from CUA, she would like to volunteer in her field in East Timor. She hadn't even heard of the country until another ISH resident introduced her to it!  Another choice for volunteer work is Eritrea where her father is from originally.


She eventually hopes to live in Qatar, Dubai or Turkey where she would continue to do research and live a multicultural life.  She sees living in other nations and being an ambassador for her country as an opportunity to promote a positive image of Arab countries to people around the world. "We need good, smart Saudis to travel everywhere. And we need more foreigners to visit Saudi Arabia."


 "Each day I want to learn something and take advantage of everything."



Candidate Sahar Fathi '05 
ISH Alum Goes on the Campaign Trail
Will ISH alumna Sahar Fathi '05 be the first Iranian-American woman ever to hold state elective office in U.S. history?  If she wins election to the Washington State Legislature this fall, YES!!  She thinks so, anyway... 
Sahar currently works as a legislative aide in the  office of Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien, helping to write and implement progressive legislation on behalf of the homeless, immigrant and refugee populations in Seattle.  As a candidate, she is in pursuit of several goals as she seeks to become state representative for the 36th district, covering North Seattle.  She wants to change the demographics of the state legislature, whose members are largely white and male, and she wants to give voice to the concerns of those people who are the focus of her current work - the poor and underrepresented in her own back yard.    
Sahar is the daughter of immigrant  parents who fled the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and then worked hard to provide her with a good education. With her parents' example, she is neither afraid of hard work nor inexperienced at it.  She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern California by age 19, and by the time she was 24, she had earned a law degree and a master's degree in international studies from the University of Washington.  When she returned to Seattle at 26, Sahar founded the Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington, the first legal clinic primarily for people of Middle Eastern descent in the country.

 A member of the New York Bar, Sahar vividly remembers sitting as a child on a beach in Iran and watching a woman in a burka pulled under the water and nearly drowning.  It was her first experience of outrage at the unfair treatment of others.  She grew up admiring women who broke gender barriers to do great things - Shirin Ebadi, the first woman judge in Iran, and Wangari Mathai, the first woman in Eastern and Central Africa to earn a Ph.D. 

Sahar had always intended to work for a UN International Tribunal, helping to address international human rights abuses.  She worked for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and during her stay at the House in Washington, she was an intern for the UN's High Commission for Refugees, working particularly with Muslim tsunami refugees from Thailand.  She loved her time at ISH.  "It was so important to me to live with people from different countries," she says.  "I learned how other people live, how they prioritize their lives, and what they care about.  Living at ISH was a beautiful way of learning to listen to other people's concerns."

Now Sahar wants to change the world starting at home, in the State of Washington.  "I will be a bold, creative leader for the 36th," she says.  "I will fight for the issues that have the greatest impact on poor and working people because I believe it is the surest way to put everyone in Washington on the path to prosperity."

Netherlands Ambassador Jones-Bos with ISH students 
Bringing Washington to the House

 ISH resident life has been enriched this year with a series of events bringing distinguished visitors to the House to meet residents and friends of the House and share their international experience.  Among the events residents enjoyed were: 
  • An evening with Tom Garrett from the International Republican Institute, who briefed residents on the prospects for democratic change in Egypt  
  • Dinner and conversation with Ambassador Renee Jones-Bos of the Netherlands, who addressed residents on bi-lateral relations between the U.S. and the Netherlands
  • An author's evening with Benedicte Valentiner, former manager of Blair House, who shared stories from her book Bedtime and Other Stories from the President's Guest House about the inner workings of Blair House
  •  A report from Mary DeRosa, who has served in numerous national security posts, on the national security policy-making process, and the decision to attack the suspected hide-out of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
  • Residents also learned about business etiquette, protocol, and business networking in three popular evenings (a cocktail reception and two dinners) with board member Larry Dunham and his colleague Nancy Mitchell of Protocol Partners.
  • Finally, residents were invited to the State Department to attend a press briefing and  tour its collection of American art and historical memorabilia in the State Department's reception rooms.  

For all of these events, thanks go to the House staff, resident advisors, and the board's Committee on International Dialogue. 



In This Issue
Garden Party!
2012 Gala
Resident Profile: Fatimah Ahmed
Alumni Profile: Sahar Fathi
Recap of Winter Events
Keep in Touch!

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International Student House (ISH) is a private, non-profit  501(c)(3) organization.  Our mission is to provide an exceptional residential experience to a highly diverse international community of graduate students, interns, and visiting scholars.  The House promotes intercultural dialogue, encourages lifelong connections, and fosters global citizenship among the world's future leaders.

ISH receives support from corporations, foundations, and individuals.

We appreciate your support!


ISH Board of Trustees

Putnam  Ebinger, President
Annette Aburdene,
Vice President

Grace Tompkins,
Vice President

Selby McPhee,

Lawrence Camp,

Andrew Ammerman
Adam Aulestia
Malcolm Benge
Nancy Buchanan
William Crocker
Lawrence Dunham
Riaz Haider
Richard Hall
Kathryn Horlick
Ignacio Jauregui
China Jessup
Clifford Kendall
Sherry Migdail
Pam Mixter
Robert Patterson
Herbert Schmitz
Jerrold Scoutt, Jr.
Barbara Slavin
Jessica Springsteen

Contact Information

For more information about life at the International Student House, DC, contact

Judy Singer,, 202-232-4007, ext. 212