On Saturday, the International House Davis will host its annual Thanksgiving Dinner for students studying abroad at UC Davis. The evening will provide international exchange students with the opportunity to experience an essential part of American culture.
“Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and many people who come to our dinner would not have another opportunity to enjoy the holiday in a traditional celebration,” said Elisabeth Sherwin, executive director of International House Davis.
Students attending the event will be served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, provided for by various organizations in and around Davis.
The board members of International House will provide a turkey. Mashed potatoes and gravy will be donated by Ludy’s in Woodland. Salad and rolls will be donated by Sodexo. Pumpkin pies will be donated by the women of St. James Catholic Church in Davis. The involvement of these organizations is integral to making international students feel at home over the holiday period.
“[Thanksgiving] is a concept that no other country has. It’s very traditional. Any international friend you make is a friend of the United States,” said Leslie Westergaard, president of the Women’s Guild at St. James Church. “This dinner is great for our group, the church and the Davis community as a whole.”
During the evening, students will have the opportunity to participate in the holiday’s eponymous custom of giving thanks.
“We pass out pieces of paper so everyone who wants to can write down what they are thankful for. [They] can then come up to the podium and read their thanks out loud or have the emcee [read it on their behalf],” Sherwin said.
The event was advertised to international students largely through a Facebook campaign and via email. Tickets to the event cost $15, the proceeds of which go toward covering the event’s expenses.
“We only sell 100 tickets and [we] are already close to selling out. Everyone who comes seems to be in a good mood, enjoying friendship and food,” Sherwin said.
The prospect of embracing an inherent feature of the American calendar is generating excitement among students who have already acquired tickets.
“I’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving before, I don’t understand much about the concept,” said Amy Nic Giolla Phadraig, a third-year food science major studying abroad from Dublin. “I think it will be interesting. You see a lot of the festivities on TV and hopefully it’ll be like that. It’s like Christmas twice in a year.”
Nic Giolla Phadraig also emphasized the significance of enjoying the festivities with American students in order to fully engage in the culture.
“It’s important for international students to experience Thanksgiving with Americans, as it’s important to integrate. Otherwise a year abroad becomes more of a holiday, not an immersion into a new culture,” Phadraig said.JOE STEPTOE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.