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Syracuse University Holds 35th Annual International Thanksgiving Celebration
As hundreds of members of the Syracuse University community gathered in Goldstein Auditorium on the evening of Nov. 21, the main attraction—a 35-pound turkey, took center stage.
More than 400 international students were treated to a traditional American Thanksgiving meal at Syracuse University’s 35th International Thanksgiving Celebration. As the meal began, dozens of students gathered around Joe Sidoni, associate director for events with Food Services, on the Goldstein Auditorium stage to take pictures and video on cell phones as he carved the bird.
The meal, prepared by University Food Services, is a long-standing tradition at the University designed to introduce international students to the American Thanksgiving tradition. In addition to the turkey, trimmings such as dressing, mashed and sweet potatoes, vegetables, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie were on the menu. Kosher and Halal meals were also offered. The meal was served family style, and 55 members of the University and greater Syracuse communities served as table hosts to encourage conversation and answer questions about the celebration.
Greetings were offered by Juan Tavares, director of the Center for International Services; Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience; and Dr. Ruth Chen, professor of practice in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, who offered her welcome in Chinese and in English. Dr. Chen and Tavares were the co-chairs of the event. The celebration was organized by Michelle Larrabee, coordinator in Parent and Family Services.
Jay Koshy, evangelical Christian chaplain, offered the invocation. His father, the late Rev. T.E. Koshy, founded the celebration at the University in the 1980s. A Native American Thanksgiving address was offered by Regina Jones, assistant director of the Native Student Program and a member of the Oneida Nation’s Turtle Clan. Muslim Chaplain Amir Duric offered the benediction.
Tavares, who joined the University community this past summer, has never seen this kind of celebration at other institutions he has worked at. “To offer the students the opportunity to be part of a roundtable and experience the spirit of Thanksgiving with wonderful food is outstanding,” he says. “The support from the Chancellor and Dr. Chen are exemplary, and the vendors that donate all the food are a testament to the global engagement and inclusion at Syracuse University and our community at large.”
Nat Ato Yawson, a second-year graduate student in biomedical forensic science from Ekumfi Eyisam, Ghana, attended the dinner for the first time. “I think it was a good time to reflect and be grateful for all the experiences and exposure Syracuse University has given us,” he says. “There are many wonderful people we meet every day—our professors, American friends and the international community. I thank the University also for creating the avenue for us to dine together as a family.”
Ze Zeng, a first-year student majoring in finance and supply change management at the Whitman School from Beijing, China, spent four years in high school in Boston and is familiar with the Thanksgiving tradition. He says the Syracuse University dinner was one of the best he has ever been to. “I can feel that the University put a lot of heart in it and I appreciate it,” he says. “It is very kind that school invited every international student who is far away from home to come. Inviting international students come to the event helps most of us to learn about American culture.”