Thanksgiving 1,000 Miles From Home

By Alex Viglio

With another Thanksgiving on the horizon, students at Youngstown State University are planning how they will spend their time off.

The large groups of international students that attend school are unable to make the trip home due to the small amount of time off. With only three extra days, most students spend their Thanksgiving break in America celebrating the holiday.

Some will travel to see cities like New York. Others will stay on campus.

For those who stay on campus, Phillis and Bruce Beard host a celebration tailored to them. Several times a year the Beard family puts on a party with an accompanying feast for the international students around the major holidays. This provides an atmosphere for the students to enjoy their mini-break before the end of the semester begins and a venue to connect with other students.  

“The dinners I put on every Thanksgiving [is a] friendly [way] to learn more about the international students,” Beard said.

For some international students the Beard’s feasts are a welcome diversion. One of those students is Sanjit Khanal, an international student from Nepal.

“I will definitely be going next week to the dinner, since I can’t make it home,” Khanal said.

But not all international students will spend their time relaxing and going to events. For some studying is a top priority as finals week is right around the corner.

Opoky Minta, an international student from Uganda, will forgo turkey carving to hit the books.

“For me I will spend my time studying for a major test that is coming up,” Minta said.

Getting the campus involved with the international students as much as possible is a major goal of the Campus Ministry group on campus, which specializes in providing religious opportunities for students through group events such as the International Students Day.

Garret White, a member of the Coalition for Christian Outreach and YSU Community / Church board, has been involved with the international students and helps give domestic students on campus a chance to interact with the international students.

“These events give all the students on campus a chance to step into the lives of these students from out of the country,” White said.

Working with grad students like Christina Ulrich, who is very involved with international students, the group has brought back the international week for students from out of the country to meet other domestic students.

“I am very passionate about student activities that bring these people from different backgrounds together,” Ulrich said.

Phillis said that bringing students together is something she enjoys doing and has done it for a while and will continue doing it so that the students know that there is a home for them in the U.S

“With the world the way it is today, we need to love them up and show hospitality,” Beard said.