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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU hosts 7th annual Thanksgiving with international community

Sean Reed
Slices of pumpkin pie sit ready to be plated by attendees of the International Thanksgiving Dinner event Monday. Instructors and their families were seated at tables, listening to the speakers within the Duke Ellington Ballroom within the Holmes Student Center. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – International Student and Scholar Services hosted the International Thanksgiving Dinner which welcomed around 100 students and faculty along with their family members to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

The seventh International Thanksgiving Dinner went on from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday in the Duke Ellington Ballroom in the Holmes Student Center.

International Thanksgiving Dinner happens every year as an event to wrap up International Student Education week and to commemorate Thanksgiving.

Laurie Elish-Piper, NIU’s interim executive vice president and provost, said the International Thanksgiving Dinner is a great way for international students to enjoy food and learn about the holiday.

“It’s a really wonderful chance to get to meet a wide array of our international students who are here this evening as well as their families,” Elish-Piper said. 

International students and their families were greeted with a feast of Thanksgiving food including creamy mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, vegetarian stuffing and roasted turkey. 

“We work really hard to come up with vegetarian options, so that we can meet a lot of different cultural dietary needs,” said Stephanie Brown, ISSS program director.

Thanksgiving-themed activities were also part of the evening. Students participated in an activity called feathers of gratitude, where guests wrote on paper feathers something they were grateful for and collectively placed the feathers on a paper turkey. Games like Scrabble and Jenga were also enjoyed by families.

Faryal Manzoor, a graduate student studying economics, said she enjoyed the food and the environment of the evening. 

“The camaraderie is great,” Manzoor said. “Everybody’s having a great time with people that usually maybe you wouldn’t see.”

The Duke Ellington Ball Room was filled with fall decorations including warm lighting and red and yellow leaves.

The event also had slideshows featuring pictures of the international students at events and in the classroom throughout the semester. 

“Thank you for contributing and providing some of these wonderful photos of your experiences here at NIU and around the world,” Brown said.

Kerry Wilks, dean of the Graduate School and associate vice president of International Affairs, said she has heard this is one of the best events at NIU. 

“I can now confirm what a very special evening we have together, indeed, to share in community and to get to know each other before the long rush to final papers,” Wilks said. 

One of the focuses of the event was showing the guests what Thanksgiving is about. 

While giving a speech during the event, Elish-Piper said Thanksgiving in the United States involves good food, football and being thankful with family along with recognizing the complicated history of the event. 

“For the pilgrims, it was a wonderful celebration for which to be thankful, but for the native peoples, it was really an opportunity to have this deep sadness and have a sense of loss,” Elish-Piper said.

The speeches concluded with Brown reading the Land Acknowledgement agreement, a statement that recognizes that the university is inhabiting land that was originally occupied by Native American tribes and was attained through ethnic cleansing and forced relocation. 

“I think there is no other time more appropriate than now to read the statement,” Brown said.

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