Some find thanks far away from home

Vivian Chen Liyi, Staff Writer

While most American students are to spend Thanksgiving with family, international UPJ students are likely to introduce their Chinese, Jamaican and Belgian ways of Thanksgiving-time celebrations.

Except for Canada and Liberia, the Thanksgiving holiday is not celebrated in countries outside the United States.

According to most Chinese UPJ students, visiting friends, experiencing American culture and shopping on Black Friday are their top-three Thanksgiving traditions.

Sophomore Yang Haoxi (Iris), from Hangzhou, China, started planning her Thanksgiving travel last semester. By scheduling all her classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she was to enjoy an 11-day (Nov. 16 to Nov. 26) vacation in Europe.

“First, Thanksgiving is not a traditional Chinese festival, so my family doesn’t celebrate it,” said Yang.

But, I think it’s good to have Thanksgiving celebrated; and the most important thing is, I love Black Friday shopping!”

“I’m going to Denmark first. Lego Themed Amusement Park is on the top of my list,” Yang said. “Then, I will visit Iceland on Nov. 21. I’m looking forward to watching the aurora borealis there.”

While other Chinese students said they were going shopping with their high school friends in New York on Black Friday, others decided to experience Thanksgiving in an American way.

Freshman Jiang Shuixin, from Jinan, China, said she would spend her Thanksgiving break with her roommate McKenzie Wanninger’s family.

“I was going to Philadelphia with some friends, but, when my roommate invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving together, I changed my mind,” Jiang said.

Sophomore Shan Jiameng (Rona), from Beijing, China, said she was going to celebrate Thanksgiving with her American friend Sarah Bush.

Freshman Gabrielle Morrison, from Jamaica, said Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Jamaica.

“Thanksgiving to me is probably equivalent to our celebration of Christmas — big family dinner, gifts for whatever reason and relaxation.

“It has been portrayed as a time for thanking God for family, food, shelter and all the things you have been blessed with,” said Morrison.

“This will be my first Thanskgiving and I’m looking forward to it and Black Friday, so I can have some fun off campus,” Morrison said.

She also said she has two sisters living in Pennsylvania that she would visit.

“I expect to be abundantly fed, hop from one house to the other and have a fun time with family and friends,” Morrison said.

Freshman Jordy Hanno, from Belgium, said Thanksgiving is not celebrated ther either.

“We don’t really do anything for it, but I like Thanksgiving. It gives you a nice moment to spend with friends and family, which is always a true blessing.

“In Belgium, Christmas is more or less the same as Thanksgiving here with a big meal and time spend with friends and family,” Hanno said.

“My plans for Thanksgiving are spending time with my host family and girlfriend’s family around Thanksgiving, and eat enough turkey to last another year,” Hanno said.

Sophomore Giovanni Dall’Amico, from Italy, said he was going to spend Thanksgiving with an American family who hosted him three years ago when he did his exchange year at Greater Johnstown High School.

“Now, since the campus is close to their house, every holiday is a good occasion to learn something new about the American traditions and spend time with them,” Dall’Amico said.

“My family does not celebrate (Thanksgiving). We have a whole different tradition than America.

“Truthfully, this event does not mean much to me, but I know that everybody here is a huge fan of it, so I just go with the flow and enjoy it almost as much as they do,” Dall’Amico said.

“I mean, who doesn’t like turkey and gravy?”