Emory community opens their homes to international students for Thanksgiving

By Dena J. Smith | Emory Report | Nov. 21, 2012

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In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, 11 alumni, faculty, staff and their families will open their homes and add extra table settings to host nearly 40 international freshmen to a traditional holiday experience.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, 11 Emory alumni, faculty, staff and their families will open their homes and add extra table settings to host nearly 40 international freshmen to a traditional holiday experience.  

The idea for the international Thanksgiving dinners came about from interests around the Emory community to accommodate students staying on campus during the holiday break.  

Carol So, co-creator of the newly organized dinner program and assistant director of student and alumni programs, says alumni had expressed interests in engaging with Emory's international students so she found this to be the perfect opportunity to reach out to Emory's alumni, faculty, trustees and staff.  

"Most first-year international students do not have cars and stay on campus during the short Thanksgiving break," says So. "And because many are unfamiliar with the tradition of the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided this would be a great opportunity for them to experience an American Thanksgiving for the first time, while also meeting and connecting with alumni and various members of the Emory community in a more intimate setting."  

J. Ben Shapiro, an Emory alum and active committee member on the Emory Board of Trustees, says he and his wife are looking forward to sharing their favorite holiday with two students from China who have never experienced the American tradition. But as Shapiro pointed out, this dinner exchange is a win-win for everyone.  

"My wife and I are excited to host these students," says Shapiro. "We've not had an opportunity to formally host anyone from China and we're looking forward to the opportunity. We're preparing all of the traditional favorites – turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and stuffing."  

Shapiro says he looks forward to this annual tradition and encourages many others from the Emory community to get involved next year.