As the holiday season approaches and I personally began preparing for food, family, friends, and fun, it came to my attention while working on a class project that not everyone is as familiar with this important time of year, namely the international students in our community. To bring the spirit of the season to attention, the Recreational Programming class put on a free Thanksgiving dinner at the VFW on Third Street on Monday, Nov. 18.
Our class created a classic Thanksgiving environment with all of the typical goodies and treats like turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, but our aim for this event wasn’t to create a Thanksgiving dinner that we are all familiar with. Instead, we planned a Thanksgiving event to show the international students what this holiday is about since many of them have never had a Thanksgiving Dinner before.
I was fortunate enough to be the event coordinator and as coordinator I was responsible for the fundamentals of the event in finding the location, finding sponsors, and organizing and coordinating the committees in our class. While it was a big undertaking, the end result made it all worthwhile.
We had a turnout of between 40-50 students and community members, including dozens of international students, a majority coming from China and Japan. We were able to serve people a traditional turkey dinner with all of the fixings while providing a brief history of Thanksgiving and crafts and activities to inspire socialization.
I was extremely proud of the outcome of this event as we had rave reviews praising the quality of the meal and the opportunity to meet new people and socialize, particularly for the international students. It was a privilege to work on this event in that it gave us the opportunity to teach the international students about our culture and allowed them to teach us about their culture as well as we met each other over the meal. The event was a great unifier, bringing the community at large together in the spirit of giving and sharing as we were all able to learn a bit about the other’s culture over a Thanksgiving dinner.