Being an international student, I have always approached Thanksgiving as a period in the school year when a much needed break is given.
I am neck deep into the trials and tribulations of the semester, and right before finals come around to completely drown me, I am thrown a life raft; Thanksgiving break. I don’t think I associate Thanksgiving with the same mix of emotions domestic students do, however, I appreciate that it brings me peace of mind.
At Hardin-Simmons University, the Global Engagement Office actively tries to help its international students integrate into the American community and not feel out of place. Tifani Smith, the assistant director of Global Engagement said that because events such as Thanksgiving have the ability to emphasize the physical distance between international students and their families, during the thanksgiving period, their office works towards trying to fill that gap.
This year, the first event was a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday the 10th, two weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday itself. The second was a Thanksgiving meal and fellowship event for students from HSU, ACU and McMurry hosted at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Green on the 18th. A Thanksgiving potluck was hosted in the Connally Missions Center on Saturday the 19th at 12 p.m. Everyone who came brought something to eat or drink, and had the chance to enjoy the fellowship, worship and the Bible study that was all planned.
On the day of thanksgiving itself, which is the fourth Thursday of November, trusted families in the Abilene community who volunteer, are given the opportunity to host one or more international students who don’t have plans for Thanksgiving. This gives those students the opportunity to not only participate in the holiday but have an authentic American Thanksgiving experience.
To get other perspectives, I asked two other international students what their feelings towards Thanksgiving are. That is, what feelings do they associate the thought of Thanksgiving break with?
Terence Wong, a senior economics major from Malaysiasaid that he associates Thanksgiving with warmth and feelings of reunion. In order to make their students feel cared for, Hardin- Simmons pairs students with families during theThanksgiving holiday. “Being a foreign student, it meant a lot to feel accepted into a different community,” Wong said. Spending time with a family during Thanksgiving felt like being back home and reuniting with his family in Malaysia. He looks forward to Thanksgiving because it makes America feel like a home away from home.
Melody Ishimwe is a sophomore psychology major from Rwanda. When asked, she said she has no feelings towards Thanksgiving. “It’s always nice to have a break from classes and schoolwork, but I don’t celebrate it, so it just feels like a long weekend,” Melody said.
“Our office has posted travel information and closed campus dining survival tips and will have the Connally Missions center open during certain hours so students staying on campus during the closure will be able to gather, play games, watch the World Cup and enjoy making their own friendsgiving traditions” Smith said.