For many international students and scholars at the University of Virginia, this November will bring their first American Thanksgiving experience. As American students begin to plan trips home to celebrate the holiday with their families, many international students cannot do the same.
What do they do when their families are far away and the Grounds fall quiet?
They spend Thanksgiving in different ways. American friends might invite them home to join their families. Some get together with international friends to travel to various cities, such as New York City to see the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Others remain in Charlottesville.
U.Va.’s Lorna Sundberg International Center has a terrific option for the last group: an invitation to join the Thanksgiving Meal Match and celebrate the holiday with a local family.
The center is seeking host families to match with one or more international students. This unique opportunity not only allows students to experience a major aspect of American culture, but is also a chance for them to connect with Americans beyond Grounds. Each year, the center receives about 40 requests from students and places them with 10 to 15 families.
Singaporean Kimberley Lim, a fourth-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences who dined with a host family last year said the experience is wonderful. “The best parts, beside the food, were just hanging out with the family on the sofa, chatting and sharing our cultures with them.”
Anyone interested in participating in the Thanksgiving Meal Match as an international student or host can contact Quynh Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The International Center is a division of U.Va.’s International Studies Office. It supports the University’s global education initiatives by providing the University and local community a comfortable space for sharing cultures. Its programs and services include social and cultural events, English language programs, meeting and reception space, and short-term lodging.