A lounge covered in rusty orange and bright red leaves that smelled just like pumpkin pie set the stage for students from 71 different countries around the world to get together at PCC and try new foods, give thanks, and experience the tradition of Thanksgiving for the first time together.
The International Students Center, Global Studies club, Pathways International, Associated Student body, and the Languages department hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for international students on Friday, Nov 16. Approximately 70 to 80 international students, along with community members and members of the faculty and staff of PCC gathered in the Creveling Lounge to celebrate Thanksgiving together as a family.
“A lot of students usually leave for Thanksgiving. They go home, but most of our international students don’t really get a chance to go home since it is such a short break,” the Director of International Student Center, Olivia Loo said. “So this is good opportunity for them to get to know each other a little bit better, get to create some sort of community here at PCC, and get to understand a little bit more about the tradition of Thanksgiving.”
A row of silver containers holding the food lined one entire wall with volunteers from Global Studies Club and Pathways in blue shirts standing behind them serving everything. The menu consisted of turkey breast in cranberry sauce, Boston cured ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, fresh cornbread, and an assortment of pies. There was also a garden salad and an array of fruit and cranberry sauce on the side. There was a strawberry lemonade along with hot tea and coffee provided for everyone.
From crafts like creating your own pumpkin, to a “thank you wall” where students could write down things they are thankful for on a piece of paper, and a photo backdrop with the words “give thanks” written in calligraphy in one corner, the theme of Thanksgiving was noticeably present. Small scarecrows were perched in the middle of every table, which had rusty orange leaves scattered throughout that looked like they had just blown in from the trees outside.
“We don’t have to always concentrate on attending class, it is nice to take time to have a dinner and have a chill and relaxed time out of class,” said Pharmacology major, Jimmy Chen.
A slideshow of different photos of smiling international students and staff played on two projection boards in the lounge throughout the night. Students were also handed Thanksgiving themed bingo cards and raffle tickets for a small Thanksgiving themed prize as they walked in.
“My favorite part would be getting to meet a lot of people and mingle together and have conversations with new people,” Business Administration major Ratna Halin said.
The most noteworthy outcome of the event was people of different cultures gathering together for the holiday season. With 1200 international students enrolling at PCC every year, it’s quite difficult for the students to get a chance to come together, much less meet any other people who are international. The new experience for everyone really brought them all together. The group tried an abundance of new foods together served from their peers and after learning these traditions now have the opportunity to continue to celebrate Thanksgiving, if they choose, for the years to come.
“It’s a good chance to meet new people and maybe make some friends,” said computer science major Yuhai Zhang. “We are all international students and maybe Thanksgiving is not a traditional festival to us so it’s a good chance to try and do Thanksg iving with other students.”
After everyone was served their food, Dr. Cathy Wei, Director of Pathways International, addressed the attendees thanking everyone for coming to the event. Her excitement for the dinner was made obvious through the smile that remained on her face throughout the night. In her speech, Wei noted that this is the first year that the different departments formally came together to host an event like this for international students.
“Cathy Wei was the one who spearheaded this because she has a very strong connection to international students and was an international student herself,” said Loo. “She really took the lead and she took the charge with this.”
A speech was then made by a member of Pasadena Sister City Committee about the history of Thanksgiving and where the tradition originated describing it simply as people of different cultures getting together and giving thanks. After educating everyone on the tradition, the group was free to socialize and mingle with the family they never get to see on campus.
“Eventually our goal is to really expand,” Loo said. “Not only bringing just international students together because international students are a part of the PCC family. We want to bring the entire PCC family together.”