International students find new homes for Thanksgiving

While most of us will be at home enjoying family, and of course the turkey, some international students will try to enjoy friends and their “family” away from home.

One thing the Center for International Programs does for their students is provide a way for international students to experience an American Thanksgiving.

“There is a something in our office called the International Friendship Program where our international students are paired up with families in and around Bowling Green, so some students will go there for the holiday,” said Ann Saviers, associate director for the Center for International Programs.

Even though the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t celebrated in their countries, some international students still appreciate it.

“It seems like I do get more homesick around this time. I still appreciate this holiday tradition because God has given us so much and it’s a time for us to give thanks to who and what we are,” said Clare Mukolwe, a junior from Zambia. “We have Americans who live in our country so they always invite us to come and celebrate with them.”

Understanding they can’t always go home when other students do, international students say the friendship program helps them avoid loneliness.

And it’s always a place to go when the holidays roll around.

“I will be meeting up with some friends and family through the friendship program, so I’ll be with my American family,” said Carol Mayuni, sophomore.

Many students participate in this program, according to Saviers, including Elizabeth Effah, a sophomore from Ghana.

“I’m not going to be around in Bowling Green, but I am going away to visit friends out of town,” Effah said, smiling.

But some international students are visiting friends outside of the program. Effah isn’t the only one who will be going out of town to visit family and friends.

“Just like every year, I’ll be going to Alabama to visit my sister and her friends for the holiday,” said Ronald Ngatuni, a sophomore from Tanzania.

“In the past, I’ve gone to the international dinners they’ve had, but I’m going to Cleveland this year to visit friends,” said Eddy Maneder, graduate student from Kenya.

But students still have homework and last minute projects to complete before finals roll around, quite abruptly.

“I’m going to my host family’s house for Thanksgiving, but other than that, I do have projects and assignments to complete,” said Meshack Simati, another graduate student from Kenya.

Residents seem willing to help the students in need of a place to go for Thanksgiving.

“I think it’s fortunate that the city of Bowling Green has very welcoming homes that are willing to help and share with our international students in this season since they can’t just get up and go home like the rest of us can,” Saviers said, chuckling.

Although Thanksgiving isn’t something Mukolwe has thought about, she says she has gotten two invitations and plans to do something with her host family.

“I’ve met some really wonderful people here and they’ve made me feel at home, so Bowling Green has become my home away from home.”