Thanksgiving break is right around the corner for Syracuse University Students. As many students are preparing to wrap up final semester assignments and planning their trips back home, others might not be.
International students make up nearly 20% of the SU student body. This means that more than 4,200 students have to take alternative measures every Thanksgiving break, seeing as most of them cannot fly home.
For Pauline Gitau, an SU student from Kenya, Thanksgiving for her is largely about finding a second-home in the U.S, because flying home to Nairobi, Kenya is not a financial possibility.
“The first thing is how lonely it can be if you stay in Syracuse. It’s one of the worst experiences ever,” Gitau said. “You almost have to look out for the next best alternative, so you’re going to start looking for other friends you could visit.”
For this Thanksgiving, Gitau is planning on reuniting with high school classmates at Princeton University, dubbing it a “Kenyan Thanksgiving.”
Anu Neupane, a student from Nepal, is in a similar situation. Luckily for Neupane, however, she said doesn’t feel like being abroad for Thanksgiving is necessarily a disadvantage, because she understands the economic burden that’s put on her family if she were to fly home for just a week.
“The tickets are super expensive during Thanksgiving, if I have to go to and from home,” Neupane said. “Plus the flight’s like 22 hours — from Syracuse to either DC or Boston and then to Abu Dhabi and then to Kathmandu.”
Fortunately, Syracuse University hosts The International Thanksgiving Celebration every year. Michelle Larrabee, an Event Manager for Hendricks Chapel, said this long-standing tradition helps bridge a gap in cultures and traditions.
“We have a full, not a long program, because the main purpose of the meal is for the kids to talk to their hosts at the tables and ask questions and familiarize themselves with the meal they’re eating,” Larrabee said. “But we do some speeches that will just give the kids a little insight into what Thanksgiving is about in America.”
The International Thanksgiving Celebration will be held on Thursday November 15, at 7pm in Schine Student Center.