My earliest memory of Thanksgiving takes me back to Greece. As a little kid, I remember watching the news, hearing something about the feast of turkeys, and the President of the United States pardoning a turkey. I thought that was strange and I had no idea what it was all about.
Years later, during my first year of college in the U.S., Professor J. explained the meaning and history of Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, my first Thanksgiving dinner with my Greek relatives in the U.S. was not a big deal. It was filled with lamb, lamb, and more lamb. The closest we came to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner was the pumpkin pie. I felt there was something missing.
A few years later, I decided to take matters in my own hands. I invited all my friends (who were all international students) for dinner and we tried to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving. That was a lot of fun and I believe we came close! For the next few years, I would improvise and do something similar.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I was invited to an American home for Thanksgiving. To be invited was a reason to rejoice. I remember trying so many new recipes, learning so much about the culture, and building memories with my American host family. Even though to this day I am not a big fan of turkey, I remember that Thanksgiving being one of my favorite days. I remember feeling the warm hospitality of my host family. I did not feel like an outsider, but part of a family. My host family didn’t do anything above and beyond; they simply added another plate on their table and I will always be thankful for that. After many attempts, I was finally able to check it off my wish list of things to do in the U.S.
Many international students either know about Thanksgiving, or will learn from their professors, friends, videos, and articles. Yet, it’s a very different thing to experience Thanksgiving. I know most students long to have these experiences, and I am thankful that this year as a church we have an opportunity to extend an invitation. I hope that you will consider opening your home to share the love and turkey with them. It might be something simple for you, but it will mean a lot for them.
If you’d like to learn more about this opportunity to extend hospitality to two or more international students from George Mason University this Thanksgiving, please contact Stephanie.