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

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

The Battalion

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Open hearts, full stomachs this Thanksgiving

Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Since 1993, visualization professor Francis Quek has been inviting Texas A&M students into his home to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal for those who cannot travel home for the holiday. 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many Aggies are beginning to travel home. However, not all students have this option.
With many international students and students who are not close to home, there is always bound to be Aggies who stay in College Station for Thanksgiving weekend. Since some Aggies cannot be with their families, many A&M professors and students have opened their homes and dinner tables to students who are still in town.
Visualization professor Francis Quek said he always invites students to his house for Thanksgiving because he wants them to experience the holiday with other Aggies if they are unable to return home for the holiday.
Since starting at A&M in 1993, Quek said he has hosted the Thanksgiving dinner for students almost every year with the record number of students being 84 for one meal. To see the diversity of students from around the world who come to celebrate, Quek said he has a world map in his hallway where students can put push pins where their hometowns are located.
After being invited to someone’s home during his time as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Quek said he wanted to pay it forward to his students.
“I really appreciated that because everyone had family to go to, and we [could not go back overseas for a few days],” Quek said. “They did the whole Thanksgiving meal — cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing and all that. It was very, in a sense, traditional, and I appreciate being able to participate in the traditions of the country at which I was going to school.”
Quek said he especially encourages international students, who may not have celebrated the holiday before, to partake in the traditional meal.
“I wasn’t born in this country, [but] I learned to appreciate different cultures and understand where they are [coming from]. I think foreign students could do well to get a piece of [American tradition] so that when they go home one day when they graduate and their grandchildren ask what America is like, they can tell them, ‘I was invited to a professor’s home for Thanksgiving and we had this funny thing called turkey, corn, some red cranberry sauce,’” Quek said. “I would encourage foreign students, especially, to not be so separate, but to actually seek to understand the culture that you’re visiting.”
At the meal each year, Quek said he always tells the history of Thanksgiving.
“I think it’s appropriate for us to celebrate the idea that in America, we base a particular festival, where people talk about different things, where families gather in much larger groups, and evaluate how this festival came about,” Quek said. “It also celebrates the earlier, more agrarian, more bucolic periods of our history.”
With his daughter in town, Quek said this Thanksgiving will be extra special due to a new addition in the family.
“This Thanksgiving is going to be a little special because I’m expecting to be a granddad for the first time, so we have a broader family this time,” Quek said.
Since they would be staying in town for the holiday, history senior Elvira Bradley and electrical engineering sophomore Jon Trevino decided to host a potluck Thanksgiving, open to all Aggies, outside the Liberal Arts & Humanities Building on campus.
The idea originated when the two discovered they would both be in town for Thanksgiving and wanted to do something bigger to bring students together on the holiday.
“We brainstormed ideas and what we could do back and forth,” Bradley said. “Then I was like, ‘Do you want to be super extra and make a Thanksgiving potluck on campus for international students and people who aren’t going home for Thanksgiving?’”
Bradley said they plan to have pasta and other traditional Thanksgiving foods and are encouraging guests to bring food to the potluck, though it is not required to attend.
“There’s going to be warm food for anybody to come and get if they want — the main thing is to provide community,” Bradley said. “If you’re an international student, we would love to see food from where you’re from because that sounds crazy cool.”
Bradley said they are not sure how many students will attend, but hope they can give everyone a place to come eat dinner if they are in town.
“Ultimately, if one person isn’t spending Thanksgiving alone, then I consider it successful,” Bradley said.

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