Thanksgiving a new experience for international students

by | Oct 9, 2015 | News

[SlideDeck2 id=59930]

Giancarlo Di Peco

The traditional Thanksgiving weekend of family gatherings and turkey dinners in Canada doesn’t have the same meaning for international students at Humber College.

“We don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving, it doesn’t belong to my culture,” 23-year-old Fitness and Health student Krupali Shah said. “It’s not our celebration at all.”

Shah came to Canada from Mumbai, India, in April, but she learned about the Canadian holiday from Hollywood.

“I’ve heard of Thanksgiving for a long time because back home, I watched TV shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother,” Shah said.

“Some of my Canadian friends celebrate it but I don’t think any of my international friends do,” 29-year-old Media Communications student Lucia Huang said. “It’s just a long weekend, I guess.”

Although this is a predominantly Canadian holiday, some international students have embraced the Thanksgiving festivities.

“I started to celebrate Thanksgiving when I first came to Canada,” said 25-year-old Civil Engineering student Arnold Nyatwa, who came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2011 said. “I kind of adopted it. There’s a lot of things in life that I should be grateful for, like my family and my friends.”

“Of course I celebrate it, ever since I came,” said 42-year-old Journalism student Serge Halytsky. “It’s different in Ukraine, it’s just more about harvesting.”

Halytsky immigrated to Canada in 2001. There is a  Thanksgiving in Ukraine, but they would eat more pork than turkey or poultry.

Carlos Kiss, a 30-year-old Multimedia Design & Development student, said the holiday isn’t recognized in his home country.

“Our version of Thanksgiving is Christmas,” Kiss said. “It’s pretty weird because we drink hot chocolate and in December it’s summer in Peru.”

Despite the fact that they do not celebrate the holiday at home, the international students have Canadian friends who welcome them to their homes for Thanksgiving.

“No family here but my friends have invited me over this weekend,” Halytsky said.

“Last year my friends started inviting me to their house for Thanksgiving,” Huang said. “My friend’s partner is Canadian and they eat together.”