International Students Enjoy Thanksgiving: “A Meaningful Holiday”
Students from France to Japan to Vietnam Share Traditional Feast at CU Denver
A diverse group of international students from countries around the world – China, Nepal, Turkey, Thailand, Ukraine, France, Burundi, and Vietnam – joined faculty and American friends to celebrate a traditional American holiday feast at this year’s International Student Thanksgiving Lunch, hosted by the Office of International Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. The event, organized by Aditi Nigudkar, a graduate student at CU Denver’s Business School and student assistant in International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), gave students a chance to learn more about the history of the national holiday, socialize, and celebrate the season.
“I think this is a very meaningful festival,” said Stella Zhao, a graduate student from Beijing, China, who is studying mathematics at CU Denver.
Karthik, a graduate student who is earning her master’s in informational systems, enjoyed attending the event for the second year in a row. Accompanying her were Monish, and friends Lakshmi Muddana, Kurthi Varsha-Kattiju, and Sravya Mandava, all from India. This was the first holiday lunch for the rest of the group, and they were all eager to learn more about the cultural background and meanings behind the traditions.
Students took turns “striking a pose” with props at the event’s photo booth and creating cookie and icing “miniature turkeys”. Laughter rang out during the guesses voiced during the Thanksgiving trivia game. A large Thanksgiving poster was available and many students posted paper leaves with their own messages about what they were thankful for this year.
Sai Latha Suresh a graduate student in computer science, noted that she was thankful for Colorado’s “mesmerizing fall colors.” She chose to enroll at CU Denver after hearing about the exciting programs offered by the university, and the city life of Denver, through a family friend who works as a professor.
John Sunnygard, Executive Director of the Office of International Affairs, and Michelle Larson-Krieg, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, presented commentaries about Thanksgiving’s meaning for their own families. For John Sunnygard, Thanksgiving meant “coming together to share a culture over food” while also getting to know one another. Michelle Larson-Krieg spoke about her three most memorable Thanksgiving events: A ski trip where a steak dinner was served late because the chef had forgotten to turn on the grill, a duck as the main dish rather than the traditional turkey, and the first time she took on the challenge of hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner event at her home.
More than 120 people attended the lunch, and for organizer Aditi Nigudkar, it was a fun opportunity that “provided a different experience for international students who had never experienced Thanksgiving before. The occasion also provided a chance for students to learn about a new cultural holiday.”
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