Each Thanksgiving, the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) arranges for international students at Boston College to celebrate the holiday with the families of faculty and staff.
“The goal of the program is to give international students the opportunity to experience a typical American holiday with the family of a BC faculty or staff member, and also to give that family the chance to meet an international student and learn about his/her culture so it is a mutual cross-cultural exchange,” said OISS director Adrienne Nussbaum.
A total of 37 international students and 12 faculty and staff participated in the Thanksgiving Day Host Program this year.
"The friendliness of my host family was great and made us feel really cared for and our hosts showed great interest in learning more about our various cultures and thought on living in America,” said one past participant in the program. “Also it is interesting to be in an American home for a change, getting to know traditions and culture, instead of being in a student environment."
The reciprocal nature of the program benefits the families of the faculty and staff, who have the opportunity to share their traditions and learn about the cultures of the students they host. The program provides a forum for each group to immerse themselves in a new culture while celebrating in the spirit of the holidays.
“My favorite memory from hosting is when the ladies we hosted bonded with my family members. I came out of the kitchen and they were just laughing and joking as if they all truly were family. It was such a lovely time,” said Jemia Cunningham-Elder, the assistant director of Alumni Chapters in the Office of University Advancement in the Cardigan Alumni Center.
According to Nussbaum, 90% of faculty who have hosted in the past expressed interest in hosting again in the future.
“The extra joy that the students bring to our holidays is incomparable to our having a dinner without them,” said Cunningham-Elder.