Home Sweet HOME
There’s no place like Ithaca College’s HOME.
Located in Terrace 3, HOME (Housing Offering a Multicultural Experience), is one of many specialty-housing communities open to incoming students. Every year HOME welcomes first-year Park and MLK scholars, international students, and students who have specifically applied to be part of the community.
Benjamin Litoff ’12 applied to live in HOME because he wanted to hang out with a diverse group of friends. “Different people bring with them different experiences. It never gets boring hanging around them,” he says.
At orientation, HOME residents painted letters for a sign that now hangs in the entryway to their building.
HOME works to give students a real-world understanding of diversity through classes, programs, trips, and other events, while fostering a close-knit, residential community.
Residents even take one multicultural-based, three-credit class together their first semester. Past courses have included Introduction to African Diaspora, Social Change, and Introduction to American Literature.
Ledon Black ’12, a native of Jamaica, enjoyed the Understanding Capitalism class he took last fall with the HOME program. “It was the best class I’ve taken in years,” he says. “[The professor’s] non-traditional methods of teaching were new to me, and the class challenged me to think in ways I never had before.”
Outside of the classroom, students explore diversity through social events, lectures, and faculty-led seminars.
Typically, HOME offers more than 50 programs each semester, varying from group trips to lectures and performances all over campus to cultural dinners and events happening right in the building.
Park scholar and junior Siobhan Cavanagh’s favorite program was a dessert potluck, at which most of the residents made a treat popular in their country. “There were desserts there I never would have really been exposed to,” she says. “I loved the rice pudding and the crepes!”
Black recalls the African dance show he saw at the Whalen Center for Music. “I love watching traditional African dances. It was so much fun and so upbeat.”
The HOME program also arranges day trips out of town. For example, HOME residents recently traveled to New York City to see the Broadway show In The Heights.
Lucia Caumont, a senior from Uruguay, says, “The show was amazing, and I also learned a lot about the Dominican culture. I loved the trip, and it was really nice getting off campus together.”
Fred Chandra ’07, HOME residence director and former HOME resident, believes the program challenges students to truly experience diversity while creating a safe and close community. “No matter what time of day it is, somebody’s always willing to have you over to talk. We would have 3:00 a.m. giggling fits, or movie nights, or informal discussions that turn into you sharing something about your life.”
MLK scholar Dana Rivera ’12 says that the HOME orientation at the start of the year, coupled with other social events, allowed her to get to know people a lot better than she would have if she had lived somewhere else.
“It’s very easy for students to lock themselves in their rooms, but I think having the requirements gives them a responsibility to branch out of their box,” adds Chandra.
For those who desire to get out of the box socially and academically, HOME is an inviting place to live. “I actually really miss it here when I’m home for breaks,” says Cavanagh. “HOME really is my home away from home!”
Originally published in Fuse: Home Sweet HOME.