The Office of the Provost sent out an email on Oct. 28 asking students and their families to host international students and scholars for Thanksgiving this year as a continuation of the annual tradition.
Seton Hall international students discussed their opinions on the matter, and talked about whether they ever considered attending a hosted Thanksgiving dinner.
Ishani Sachdev, a junior economics major with a minor in legal studies and philosophy, is an international student from Delhi, India.
She has never thought about participating in the program because she has relatives in the country that she can visit during the break to celebrate. However, she points out that another reason that prevents her from participating is “the not so ignorable fact that these families are complete strangers to the students.”
Andi-Kaye Walters, a junior biology major and international student from Jamaica, also has never participated in the event because of the awkwardness involved in going to a stranger’s house for a holiday.
“I think it’s nice that families open their house to host international students, but I hope they don’t feel offended if students aren’t comfortable with going to their houses because of cultural differences,” Walters said.
Maria Bouzas, director of the international studies program, says that by spending the holiday with an American family, international students and scholars are given the opportunity to have an authentic experience for Thanksgiving. It’s a great chance for international students and scholars to learn about American culture and witness how diverse family dynamics can be.
“Through this process, I’m actually learning how diverse Thanksgiving menus can be! International students and scholars share their traditions and history with us when they attend Seton Hall, and so we are asking members of the Seton Hall community to do the same,” Bouzas said. “For the past several years, we have been able to provide this opportunity to a small group of students and we hope that the tradition will continue to grow.”
Members of the program ask that students travel in at least pairs, with either a friend, family member, or another student. Then before the Thanksgiving dinner, the international program sends both the students and the hosts a survey to collect information on logistics, food allergies, etc. The students are then matched to hosts based on the survey results.
Bouzas describes how willing the Seton Hall community is in being generous since as soon as the broadcast is sent out for the event each year, the office immediately receives several responses from potential hosts open to make space at their table. The international program is still waiting for more students and scholars to sign up for the program, and already have many hosts that have signed up and are eager to share their experience with others.
Caitlin Gartley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.