International Thanksgiving

For many students, Thanksgiving break means traveling home to see family, feeling stuffed to the brim with turkey and pie and celebrating everything there is to be grateful for.

But for others, especially those with homes an ocean away, break is spent on campus. Luckily, there is still an opportunity for those students to indulge in a Thanksgiving meal.

Each year, a Thanksgiving Day dinner, catered by Hy-Vee, is put on by Dining Services at Selleck Dining Center. According to residential international student coordinator Luyao Yan, the menu is traditional, containing items like turkey, gravy, dinner rolls and desserts.

Yan said this meal on Thanksgiving Day is important for students not only because very few meals are offered during break, but also because it is a way to promote the Thanksgiving culture.

“The RAs can really talk with the students about what Thanksgiving dinner is and what it looks like when they have the dinner at home,” Yan said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for international students to learn about American Thanksgiving dinner. They’re very excited about it.”

In addition to the meal on Thanksgiving Day, UNL dining centers had Thanksgiving dinners on Nov. 9. For many international students, this was their first time experiencing Thanksgiving.

Freshman computer science major Monika Jorrigala said she didn’t know about Thanksgiving before coming to the United States and attending Selleck’s Thanksgiving dinner.

“It was a nice experience and a really different one,” Jorrigala said. “I never had turkey back at home because we don’t find turkey in India. I really liked the desserts, too.”

Yan said the dinner on Thanksgiving Day has a good turn-out, with about 80-100 students in attendance. Typically, she said, students do activities at the dinner that pertain to the Thanksgiving theme.

“In the past, we’ve tried making crafts and writing appreciation notes to family, friends and people they love,” Yan said. “It’s a good time for them to reflect on the year.”

After the Nov. 23 dinner, which is from 2-5 p.m., students participate in another American tradition: Black Friday shopping. Each year, Yan takes around 50 students to the Nebraska Crossing Outlets in Gretna. The outing lasts from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Yan’s Intercultural Student Aide staff organizes events during breaks, including winter break. Yan said in the past, the aides have put on a Christmas gift exchange party, as well as a New Year’s Eve masquerade party.

According to Intercultural Student Aide Jessica Phillips, these events immerse international students in American traditions, allowing them to truly experience a new culture.

“Hosting events over breaks makes a significant impact in helping international students adjust to being away from home,” Phillips said.