Students experience US Thanksgiving
No-preference sophomore Mikey Yu, left, helps teach interdisciplinary studies in social science junior Kelly Ilagan, right, how to play Vietnamese card game “tien len” during the Vietnamese Student Association dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, in the Vincent Chin room of Holden Hall. Students gathered to socialize, give thanks and eat homemade Vietnamese food. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
Turkey and stuffing and pies, oh my!
For many students, Thanksgiving is a time to take a break and go home, see their families, eat and be grateful.
But for Chi-Lin Huang and other students who are thousands of miles away from home, this holiday weekend might be full of new cultural experiences.
This weekend, the mechanical engineering sophomore from Taiwan will celebrate his first traditional U.S. Thanksgiving with a friend’s family in Chicago.
“I (want to) see how they cut the turkey and how they work on their Thanksgiving meal because I want to learn how to do it so someday, I can share (it) with my family back home and they will understand more about (the) American culture,” Huang said.
Computer science senior Michelle Truong, left, and clinical laboratory sciences senior Thinh Nguyen, right, eat homemade Vietnamese food as they talk with friends at the Vietnamese Student Association's meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, in the Vincent Chin room of Holden Hall. Members of the association spent the evening socializing before leaving for the holiday break. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
With MSU’s diverse cultural makeup, Huang is not the only student who will experience this facet of U.S. culture.
Nicole Namy, an international student adviser in the Office of International Students and Scholars, said there are many students who are finding and embracing alternative ways to celebrate the long weekend.
Last night, in lieu of the holiday, some cultural American students prepared an alternative Thanksgiving meal.
Finance junior Stella Lo, treasurer of the Vietnamese Student Association, or VSA, said she celebrated VSA’s version of Thanksgiving, which featured a collection of traditional foods from the students’ native countries.
“We’re just having different people bring in different foods to celebrate Thanksgiving,” Lo said. “And this is a way to give back to our members, just for fun.”
Namy said, like Huang, many international students could go home with an American friend, attend a Thanksgiving dinner provided by an on-campus group or stay in East Lansing and take advantage of the quiet weekend to re-energize.
“In (their) first year here, (international students have) taken an entire semester to acclimate (themselves),” Namy said.
“(So) it might be nice to take off a few days and catch up and just prepare for (their) exams.”
Wednesday, the International Student Association, or ISA, the Council of Graduate Students and the Graduate Employees Union are hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Spartan Village Community Center, 1543 Spartan Village, at 5 p.m., ISA President Kubatbek Alimbekov said.
Journalism junior Marcela Salvador plans to take advantage of the calm, deserted campus.
Marcela said she was planning to go home with a friend to metro Detroit, but since exams are approaching, she now plans to lie low and maybe attend a Thanksgiving dinner on campus.
The Ecuadorian is optimistic she will enjoy learning about the holiday and said she hopes students won’t “gain a lot of weight after this holiday,” while giggling.
“(Thanksgiving) doesn’t have a lot of meaning for me (because) in Ecuador, we don’t celebrate this occasion,” Salvador said. “But since I am living in America, I should learn about it and the food and why Americans are so excited about it.”