Thank You, America, and Have a Great Thanksgiving
Published: Monday, November 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, November 25, 2013 13:11
When I first arrived in the United States as an international student, I did not know anything about the Thanksgiving holiday. Considering the busy lifestyle that people usually have in America, I was surprised to see how students, staff and faculty at NDSU enthusiastically prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving and I patiently waited to witness this festive occasion.
Nevertheless, I had no idea how I could celebrate Thanksgiving, since it was a family-based celebration. I did not know any families nor I had any of my relatives in this country. But I was fortunate to meet the Sassi family through a program called the friend-family program, which was organized by the NDSU Office of International Programs. OIP arranged meetings between American families and international students who liked to share each other’s cultures and I participated in this program.
Since I got to know the Sassy family, I have been able to celebrate Thanksgiving for four consecutive years in a warm house with delicious Thanksgiving food provided for me. Even though I came here from another country I didn’t feel lonely at Thanksgiving.
The Sassi family taught me many things about Thanksgiving traditions such as saying what you are thankful for, before eating. They taught me that family life could be simple but incredibly beautiful in a gathering like Thanksgiving. The Sassi kids taught me some of the history behind Thanksgiving by telling me the story of early settlers and Native Americans who ate a meal together in companionship. Even though these historical factors are disputed among historians, I felt that Thanksgiving holiday opened a door to create friendships among peoples and unity among families. Certainly, the way people celebrate Thanksgiving had changed over time and is changing today. The Sassi family itself is an example of this change.
The older Sassy boy was a vegetarian so he did not eat the famous Thanksgiving Turkey. Instead his mom made a tofu Turkey or some other delicious vegetarian dish for him. For those who ate Turkey, she served dark and white meat with cranberry sauce. I felt that I was privileged to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Sassi family because I got to eat both vegetarian and specially prepared non-vegetarian foods.
The Sassi boys taught me how to eat mashed potatoes like an American. First, you have to pile up a small mountain of potatoes, then you dig a hole in the mountain, finally you pour gravy into the hole and mix ever thing together. Uff da!! After the meal, the famous Sassi boys will play classical and modern music. Alex would play the violin and Max would play the bass (Max had changed his instrument over time) and this will make the parents little emotional (even though they did not show it very expressively.) Sassi family even asked me to bring my other international friends with me, which made the Sassi Thanksgiving a miniature cultural hub.
Even today, OIP arranges meetings with international students and American families who want to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Speaking as an international student, I have to appreciate this admirable service done by the OIP. Simultaneously, I want to thank the Sassi family and other American families who have understood that international students can get lonely in these sorts of big holiday occasions. Finally, the Thanksgiving holiday also makes me think of the Native Americans who represent the great heritage of this country. Wherever I live in the future I will remember all these people and be thankful to them.
Samantha is a senior majoring in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @SamanthaWic