By Gina K.
Thanksgiving was something totally new to our family, who had not celebrated the American Holiday before we landed in Ann Arbor. Although I was excited for the Thanksgiving break, my family had no idea of what we could do over this long holiday weekend when everyone else was spending their time with family. We were feeling left out at our home while everyone was enjoying turkey and pumpkin pie.
It was really a pleasure that my dad, who is studying at graduate school at the University of Michigan,got an invitation from his professor who invited my family to Thanksgiving dinner.
Visiting his house and having Thanksgiving dinner was a great opportunity to learn about Thanksgiving traditions and food. Even when the pandemic hit, the professor gave us packed Thanksgiving food: turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and many cakes.
This year, we were finally able to have an in-person Thanksgiving dinner since 2020. After several years of having Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s professor’s house, it has become more than a day of eating holiday food. This was not only a great time to learn about American Thanksgiving food and traditions, but also an opportunity to share food with other international students from my dad’s lab. Learning the American Thanksgiving tradition while interacting with people from all over the world and sharing their holiday traditions at the dinner table has broadened my interests and cultural perspectives. For example, many students, mostly from China and Taiwan, brought their own traditional dishes and shared their holiday traditions.
Preparing holiday food together, sharing food from different cultures and talking about our experiences in a warm home at Thanksgiving and Christmas gave me and my family great comfort during the holiday season where before we had felt left out. It is a pleasure to meet these great people and I am hoping to spread this opportunity to those who feel left out, especially many newcomers who cannot meet their family during the holiday.