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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new International House at the University of Tennessee officially opened its doors Wednesday with the cut of a ribbon.

The new 10,000-square-foot facility, 1623 Melrose Ave., will be a “home away from home for 1,300 international students from every continent in the world,” Dr. James Gehlhar, director of the Center for International Education, said.

 The objective of the International House is to help students with cross-cultural adjustment, and to promote cross-cultural understanding, said Joan Lindsey, coordinator for international programs. At the same time, American students have the opportunity to become familiar with other cultures.

“This is a place where the new and unfamiliar way will be acceptable,” Lindsey said.

 David Lawson, coordinator for international student services, described the objective of the International House as a “cross-roads” for all types of students.

“Almost 100 different cultures and nationalties are represented on UT’s Knoxville campus,” Lawson said. “Any language that you would want to try to speak can be found on this campus.”

 The 14-room International House includes meeting, living and dining rooms, a kitchen, computer lab, cross-cultural resource center, and a multi-purpose “Great Room” with a 150-person capacity.

 During the 10:00 a.m. opening ceremony performed at the facility’s main entrance, some international students performed customs pertaining to building openings from their own countries. Dr. Deb Basak of India, a former graduate student and current research associate at UT broke a coconut with a hammer prior to the opening.

“Breaking a coconut before moving in to a new house or building is a long-standing Indian tradition,” Basak said.

Contact: Dr. James Gehlhar (423-974-3177)