Thanksgiving is usually considered an American holiday. But as America continues to become more of a melting pot, the definition of “American” is growing. Some of the International Students at Syracuse University think this holiday means much more than a Turkey dinner.
Some international students recently moved to the U.S. with their families. They have adopted their own way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Mariana Domingues is a Broadcast and Digital Journalism student who is originally from Brazil. She recently moved to Florida with her mom, dad and brother.
Domingues says that she likes Thanksgiving because its intimate and it reminds her of home.
“We tend to spent the day cooking together and sometimes we don’t always cook Turkey, sometimes its chicken and our own kind of form of Brazilian food as well because we do get very homesick,” Domingues says.
Julia Vargas travelled all the way from Colombia to study International Relations and Geography in Syracuse University. Her sister lives in California and her family celebrated its first Thanksgiving together last year.
“I really enjoyed it because it’s a like time were people say thank you and we don’t have that in our culture,” said Vargas.
Vargas explained that it’s important to have a typical American thanksgiving dinner but it’s also good to add a personal touch on it. She really liked that her mom cooked a Turkey marinated in beer and that her sister’s husband cooked Lebanese rice.
Some other international students here in SU, like Christina Bahou from Jordan, are giving thanks that Thanksgiving gives them a whole week off of classes.
“The internationals really like it because it’s a chance for us to leave the university and like go to other places, get to meet other people,” said Bahou.
Last year, Christina decided to visit family in California during her college Thanksgiving break. Her family cooked a traditional American thanksgiving dinner, which she had a little trouble giving thanks for.
“I found weird was how people put cranberry with their Turkey, I heard about fruit with salads, but I found it weird that they use cranberry as Turkey dressing.”
This is not the case for Talya Server. She came all the way from Turkey to study Economics at SU. She spent her first Thanksgiving with her college professor’s family. She found something very special about the traditional thanksgiving meal.
“We had obviously pumpkin pie… that was my first time that I ate pumpkin pie and it was delicious,” said Server.
Server added she thanks her teacher for showing her the real meaning of an American Thanksgiving. Her teacher gave her a paper to write what she was thankful for this year.
“It was very nice to write,” said Server, “you don’t always write things down and say what you are thankful for, you might think about it but writing it is so much different.”
But this will be the first year many international students will have the chance to celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving. Zeena Saifi is originally from Jordan and studies Broadcast Journalism at SU. She will try to celebrate Thanksgiving in her own way.
“There is a concept that not only international students do but also other students that have no chance to go back home do, and its called Friendsgiving, its like when friends get together and they cook a meal and you just eat it together,” said Saifi.
Saifi explained that even though her group of friends cooks the turkey and the stuffing, their dinner celebration has a different purpose.
“We’re just doing it in the sense to feel so that we can feel like a family, not actually because we are part in an actual thanksgiving dinner,” said Saifi.
Omar Abed came from Egypt to study Finance here in Syracuse. He hasn’t celebrated Thanksgiving yet, either. He says that he has always understood Thanksgiving is very for Americans, since he came to this country three years ago.
“I mean in Egypt every Friday we set all together and we have dinner together and everything is cooked at home,” said Abed, “but to Americans they don’t have that that much so thanksgiving is a way of bringing everyone together, which I think is very nice.”
Abed is excited that he will finally have an American Thanksgiving dinner with his friend’s family in Connecticut this year.
“I hope there is a huge turkey, I had Turkey before but I think thanksgiving has a special recipe they make it with love or something I have no idea,” said Abed, “hopefully it will be a good experience, I’m looking forward for it.”
I am an international student too. As someone who comes from a country whose culture revolves around family values, Ecuador, Thanksgiving gives me a way to really connect to American families.
I have noticed that my American friends here in college are not as close to their families as I am to mine. They call their parents once or twice a week, while I do it every hour.
So, it was an eye-opening experience when I saw my American best friend’s family join together on Thanksgiving and celebrate each other.
Maybe they are as close to each other as my family is. They just wait until late November each year to really show it.