Four different students, four diverse backgrounds and one common struggle.
For most college students, the week of Thanksgiving is a week full of good food and family time. However, international students staying in the U.S. don’t all get that luxury. With homes ranging from China, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and Germany, traveling back and forth for shorter breaks isn’t necessarily feasible.
Chinese international student, Junyng “Nikki” Lu, is in her second to last semester in the Fox School of Business. Being that she wanted to take graduate classes, Lu has taken classes over every summer that she’s been in America. By taking classes over the longest break students have all year, she has forfeited her only chances to go home.
When asked how it feels to see her friends go home each break, she replied, “At first I heard some of my friends are going to go back to China, which I really am jealous because I haven’t seen my family for three years.”
International students staying in the States over break are interested to experience this national holiday.
Rayanna Ruani of Brazil explained that she “had heard about it in movies and books,” while Brendon Creed of Trinidad and Tobago expressed that he “would see it on TV episodes or sitcoms.”
When asked if the real Thanksgiving paralleled with what they were seeing on TV, both replied that once experiencing it first hand, they realized that it was a lot more about family than they thought it would be. Both stated that the United States’ Thanksgiving paralleled with their home countries’ Christmas.
As Temple’s campus turns into a “ghost-town,” as Creed described it, international students who cannot return home for the holidays are left to find plans. However, if a student doesn’t know many people in America, he/she may be left feeling alone on the holiday.
To avoid this, Temple’s International Student Affairs office has put an initiative into place to pair international students with host families for Thanksgiving dinner. Ed Roach, who works closely with the organization, explained the matching process.
“Mostly the way that we find people is partnering with churches locally, usually people from churches are open to bringing in new people,” said Roach. “They just want people to feel welcome.”
However, being that this holiday does not exist outside of the country, these international students say they will not feel too bad that they will not be with their own families for the holiday.
Ruani pointed out that “if it were like Christmas, a holiday that my family and I have always spent together every year, I would definitely be upset.”
Hermann Doerner of Germany says how the thought of returning home for winter break soon helps him get through not going home this week.
He said, “Of course I would like to be with my family. But since there’s no history in Germany of Thanksgiving and I’m going to see my parents like a month after when I go home for winter break, it’s not that bad.”
Unlike other international students who get to go home on breaks, Lu laughed about the amount of time that has passed since she last saw her parents.
She joked, “I know I’ll maybe [be] in the airport, you know, when my family sees me they probably cannot recognize me because in three years I’ve changed a lot.”
This link will provide information on hosting Thanksgiving for international students through Temple’s International Student Affairs.