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International House Candlelight Ceremony

5 November 2019
The annual International House event will be held this Friday
The ceremony observes the symbolic exchange of cultural understanding which is a hallmark of the International House experience.
Circular tables with large candle and national flags in background

International House formal dinner in the dining hall, 2017

Candlelight Ceremony began at the International House, New York under the guidance of I-House founder Harry Edmonds, and has since become a time-honoured tradition of all International Houses around the world.

The ceremony involves residents of the many countries living at International House lighting a candle to symbolise passing the light of international understanding, and the recitation of the following pledge: 

As light begets light, so love, friendship, and goodwill are passed from one to another. We who come from many nations to live in fellowship ininternational house, promise one another to pass the light wherever we go.

Writing in Passing the Light: A History of The University of Sydney's International House, foundation director Graeme de Graaff recalls concerns about whether the traditional Candlelight Ceremony concept would translate well to the Australian setting. A modification was made in the form of residents reciting the pledge in their native languages, and the first ceremony went ahead in 1967, with Graeme noting: 

"We were struck by the fact that in the recitation of 27 pledges, English was used only three times. While one knew many of the residents were daily operating with the handicap of using a foreign tongue, suddenly that academic knowledge became very real. That would be how International House would 'work'. We were up and going."

The event has become a hallmark of the International House experience, with over 6,000 of our residents and alumni having attended or participated. The ceremony is accompanied by a formal three-course dinner and dessert, with many residents taking the opportunity to wear the traditional dress of their country or culture.

This year's Candlelight Ceremony, to be held on Friday 8 November, will also see winners of the Rosemary Berrick Competition and Diane and Howard Cook Award announced along with an introduction of the new IHMA Committee members.

When: Friday 8 November
5.30pm: Entrée and drinks in the Wool Room
6.15pm: Candlelight Ceremony in the Dining Hall, followed by main course and dessert

Where: Dining Room, International House
Dress code: Cocktail dress or national clothing

Candlelight Ceremony order of proceedings

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