Reprinted here in its entirety.
Jacksonville State University is home to one of the first peace
and tolerance curriculum in the United States. Dr. James and Mrs. Myra Jones
began the International House Program (IHP) September 1946, one year after the
end of World War II and a year and three months after the start of the United
Nations. They began with the idea to “promote world peace by bringing people
This core idea of peace is incorporated into the IHP as a slogan: “Know one
another, and you will love one another.” These simple, yet powerful, words can
be seen on a plaque hanging in the International House upon entering; its
meaning echoes through the halls.
By installing an international program within the university, Dr. Jones laid
the foundation for the acceptance and respect of diversity among a community.
Whereas many schools experienced turbulence in the 1960s during integration, the
transition for students, staff and faculty at JSU was easier because the
university began an international diversity initiative in 1946.
The program began as an exchange between students from Paris and Alabama and
was run out of an office in Bibb Graves. Now, more than 60 years later, there
are 42 students from South Africa to Japan to Iraq living in the International
Just as the IHP evolved and grew, so did its core idea. There are now
students from every continent living in the House with Americans, promoting and
experiencing the support, tolerance, diversity and exchange of cultures in a
“We create peace and understanding here by modeling it,” says Dr. John
Ketterer, current director of the IHP. Having a place where people from all over
the world can come together to learn about other cultures and traditions, as
well as teach their own, creates an atmosphere of peace and unity among many
“I love the International House because we’re like a big family,” says Claire
Xavier from Paris.
“I have 21 sisters and 20 brothers from many different countries, which makes
living here really interesting. We talk about our different cultures, customs
and food. I have especially learned a lot from students who are from countries
outside of Europe.”
The Jones’ began the program with a primary purpose “to train and prepare
young people from this and other countries for leadership in the interest of
brotherhood and peace.” Through the joy of discovery and the cultivation of new
relationships, the students in the International House comprise many parts of
one international family.
“Inside the House they treat us as family,” says Christina Almanza, a
2001-2003 IHP participant. “They don’t let us be strangers. This is my second
home…when I’m home, I miss here, and when I’m here, I miss home.”
In a 1964 letter to Dr. Houston Cole, a supporter of the IHP and president at
JSU at the time of its inception, Mrs. Jones wrote, “Our faith in [these
students] depends not so much upon what they are, but upon what they can become
and what we would like to believe they will become.” Speaking of her and her
husband’s work, she also wrote, “We have tried to hold fast to our faith in the
possibility of building a better world with a little more of good will. It is
doubtful that any of us have any real comprehension of the power inherent in
simple human kindness.”
The creation of peace among nations—a large idea carried out by small acts of
Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and
Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com