Turkey, winter squash, mashed potatoes, cubed stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, corn, salad, celery and cream cheese, pumpkin pie, apple pie, blueberry pie, and tons of food on the table were not what made Thanksgiving special for me this year. It was the love, warmth, and hospitality of my American host family that made this traditional American holiday a memorable one for me. As an international student from Pakistan, Thanksgiving break meant homesickness due to the long distance from my family and home. But thanks to Jodi Carlson Grebinoski, Reference and Government Documents Librarian at UMD, who invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family in her hometown of Finlayson, Minn., I was able to enjoy this traditional American holiday in an American home and learn about the American culture.
Having grown up in Pakistan, my perception of Thanksgiving was based on Hollywood movies which show this holiday as a time when all the family gets together to offer thanks for blessings, create a little bit of drama, and of course celebrate by eating food-lots of food.
However, the experience with my host family not only gave me the chance to try certain foods for the first time, such as, the traditional pumpkin pie, celery stuffed with cream cheese, tasty stuffing and cranberry sauce, it also taught me about the origins and traditions of this American holiday, engage in a cross-cultural experience, see the world from a different point-of-view, visit a Midwest small town, enjoy a hayride and most importantly, to form lifelong friendships. My host family also took interest in learning about Pakistan-the culture, traditions, social values and customs. We engaged in an interesting discussion and they had fun looking at the pictures of my family and hometown.
I am thankful to my American host family for sharing their culture with me and letting me experience Thanksgiving in a true American spirit. The most meaningful thing I learned is that despite all the differences, ordinary people everywhere are loving, peaceful, courteous and deserve respect.
I am proud to call Thanksgiving my favorite time of the year and I cannot wait to tell my family back home about the scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner I had and that I got to experience the American culture as shown in the movies!
BY MADIHA MIRZA firstname.lastname@example.org