By Sarah Knepp, For The Miami Student
“Rolls: individual servings of white bread.”
This description, and others like it, decorated the tables of Talawanda Middle School last Friday night for Miami’s Global Neighbors Thanksgiving Dinner, where international students, faculty, staff and members of the Oxford community were welcomed to gather together and celebrate a traditional American holiday.
Founded in 2011, the annual event serves as a way to teach international students about American traditions, specifically Thanksgiving.
“It started as a community initiative,” said Sarah O’Connell, an international student adviser. “It’s a way to teach them about the holiday and give them a community feeling.”
The dinner, a traditional Thanksgiving feast complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, used to be made by members of the Oxford community.
However, since attendance increased, Kroger catered the event this year to accommodate the number of people.
“We have around 200-300 people that come [to the event],” O’Connell said. “Around 100 community members and 150-200 students.”
A majority of the students in attendance were international students from China.
Xhiyi (Lucy) Zhang, a junior from China, went to the Global Neighbors Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time and had never experienced a traditional Thanksgiving meal before the event. She enjoyed most of what she ate.
“Except for the cranberries,” she said.
Alex Ji, a junior from Shanghai, has attended the Global Neighbors Thanksgiving Dinner all three years he’s been here at Miami.
He enjoys the Thanksgiving dinner, but doesn’t like the dessert.
Unlike many other international students, neither Zhang nor Ji will be returning home to China for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The International Student Organization (ISO) plans trips every year for students from China to go on. This year, they will be traveling to Chicago to sightsee and explore; however, Zhang and Ji won’t be attending.
Instead, Ji will be heading to Puerto Rico, while Zhang will be staying in Oxford to get a head start on finals preparation.
Zhang and Ji mingled with students, Miami faculty, staff and Oxford community members at the dinner. They sat at the same table as President David Hodge, who came with his wife.
Hodge talked about how impressed he is with the event every year and how the dinner serves as a way for them to feel more connected with American culture and meet members of the community.
“This is a way to introduce our international students to a special aspect of our American culture,” Hodge said. “Holidays are a special thing.”