An international Thanksgiving celebration

BY JENNIFER LADWIG | Evergreen reporter

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The typical Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and, most importantly, pumpkin pie.

The International Center hosted a pumpkin pie making demo yesterday, allowing international students to make and eat the traditional holiday treat.

“The international community doesn’t usually leave campus for Thanksgiving,” said Katherine Hellmann, the associate director of the International Programs. “So we’re giving them an opportunity to get a taste of Thanksgiving.”

Many international students have never experienced a true Thanksgiving dinner because it is such a unique American holiday, Hellmann said.

 “I like baking, I learned how to make cupcakes and flat bread at home,” said Chris Xu, an international graduate student studying food science and engineering. “So I came to learn how to make pumpkin pie.”

The pie-making demo coincided with Poverty Awareness Week. Throughout the event discussions of different traditions related to Thanksgiving took place, including the ideas of helping others and giving back, Hellmann said.

“We want to show Thanksgiving is not just a time to give thanks,” she said. “It is also a time to help those in need.”

What is special about this event is how international students are encouraged to help with the cooking, Hellmann said.

“We want students to scrub their hands and come into the kitchen and help and get involved,” she said. “You can learn by watching, but it is better to learn by doing.”

As students helped make the pie, they discussed what they thought Thanksgiving meant and what different traditions they have.

“I think Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and to give back to everyone who has done something for you,” said Shannon Amuro, a senior international business major, and an intern with the International Program.

The goal of International Programs is to encourage students, both American and international, to become a part of their community and campus, Hellmann said.

“We want internationals to get to know our culture and how to give back to the community,” she said. “We try to integrate international students into the campus and community and give American students an opportunity to share their culture.”

Hellmann said it is exciting for campus staff to be able to make international students feel at home. And there is no better way to do it than with a universal interest like food, she said.

“To be able to give this uniquely American experience is wonderful,” she said. “They are here to get an education, but internationals are also here to learn our culture and make friends.”