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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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International students celebrate Thanksgiving

Photo by Provided

Slices of pumpkin pie at an event hosted by Texas A&M’s International Student Services.

Over Thanksgiving break, most Texas A&M students returned home to enjoy the holiday festivities surrounded by family and friends. For international students originating from countries without Thanksgiving celebrations, however, the holiday also represented an opportunity to experience some American traditions.
A&M is home to more than 5,000 international students hailing from all over the world, as of Spring 2016, according to International Student Services.
These international students celebrate Thanksgiving with friends or extended family, enjoy holiday events put on by International Student Services, and learn about Thanksgiving foods and traditions.
Gabriel Nambila, a geospace sciences junior who lived in Gabon, France, Egypt, Morocco, Germany and the United Kingdom before coming to the U.S. said Thanksgiving is more about the time to relax away from the school workload to him since he’d never celebrated it before coming here.
“It’s just the time off honestly, because I lived in different countries and in other countries they don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving like Thanksgiving is not a thing there,” Nambila said.
For Nambila, Thanksgiving presents the opportunity for the rare home cooked meal and for relaxation without academic stress, but without the context of growing up with Thanksgiving, the holiday holds no special significance for him.
“To me, Thanksgiving is more like hey I have time to go home and have like a good meal or something cooked by people,” Nambila said.
Nambila had a couple of different options about where to spend Thanksgiving but knows that wherever he ends up he’ll have a proper Thanksgiving feast to indulge in.
“I have a friends who live in Austin who proposed to me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family and my second option is my parents have friends living in Houston and I could go spend Thanksgiving with them,” Nambila said. “As long as it’s good food, that’s all that matters to me.”
Rayan Forzali, an electrical engineering junior from West Africa’s Ivory Coast, said he enjoys Thanksgiving and the opportunities it gives him to spend time with family and friends and get a break from school.
“I just like the fact that you gather with your family, you eat together you spend time together, it’s just kind of fun,” Forzali said. “Get a break sometimes from whatever it is we’re doing and spend some time with family and friends – and turkey, of course.”
Forzali said he spent the fall break in Austin celebrating the holiday with extended family after driving with several friends, as his immediate family lives in West Africa.
“This one I actually have an uncle in Austin and I’m going to drive up with some friends and stay with family,” Forzali said.
Like Nambila, Forzali had never celebrated Thanksgiving prior to coming to the U.S. for school. In fact, Forzali said he had never even heard of the holiday.
“We don’t have Thanksgiving and we never really cared about it, like I had no idea what it was until I came here,” Forzali said. “My first Thanksgiving here, my friend was like ‘Hey wanna come to my house for it’ and I was like ‘What’s Thanksgiving?’ and then I learned about it a bit.”
The International Student Association, one of A&M’s largest resources for students from abroad, put on a Thanksgiving celebration by hosting a potluck and encouraging students to bring in dishes unique to their home countries.
“All the food was really amazing,” said Piyush Blaggen, an electrical engineering graduate student from India. “The international students organization is really about sharing cultures and learning about American culture.”

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