Whitties learn how to make learn how to make onigiri, a type of Japanese rice ball, at the Tekisuijuku (Japanese Studies House) table during the IHC block party.
Whitties make onigiri, a type of Japanese rice ball, at the Tekisuijuku (Japanese Studies House) table during the IHC block party.

Photography by Nhi Cao ’20

A campus tradition for more than 20 years, the Interest House Community (IHC) block party took over Boyer Avenue last Saturday with games, activities, arts and crafts and free food. The carnival-esque extravaganza also included a cappella groups and inflatables along with homemade lemonade, popcorn, cotton candy and international fare, plus customized booths designed by the 11 interest houses.

"One of the things that makes the block party so fun is that it brings together members of Whitman College as well as Walla Walla community members," said Molly Burchfield '19, a geology-environmental studies major and RA of the Environmental Studies House, which collected glass bottles for recycling during the event. "Neighbors bring their kids and their pets. Faculty are known to stroll through."  

Attendees sample chocolate fondue at the French House's station.

In addition to environmental studies, the IHC themed houses also promote community service, Asian studies, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, fine arts, global awareness, intercultural affairs and creative writing. Tamarac House, a residence hall that attracts students with a love of the great outdoors, also participates in the block party-this year with a pet rock-crafting station plus slacklines and hammocks.  

"The block party is a great way for each house to showcase the interests they are passionate about and introduce first years to the idea of interest houses," said Tamarac RA Sela Patterson '18, another geology-environmental studies major. "It brings together Whitman students from all class years."  

Ian Clothier '20 paints a pet rock at the Tamarac House table.

According to Nancy Tavelli, associate dean of students for campus life, about 20 percent of Whitties live in an interest house at some point during their studies. "The IHC is a place where living and learning are combined to give residents an opportunity to grow as students, housemates and individuals," she explained. And the block party lets "the entire campus community learn about their programs and their house as a potential living option."  

Taylor Salaguinto '18, a German studies and biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology major who is the RA of MECCA (Multi-Ethnic Center for Cultural Affairs) House, added, "I think it has become such a successful tradition because of the Whitman community's enthusiasm to enjoy a sunny Saturday on campus and get involved in various represented interests." 

Chinese Language Assistant Andy Li draws at the Fine Arts House table.