The Thanksgiving Holiday is one of the few holidays in the U.S. for which schools and businesses are closed for a number of days. Most American students use this break to travel home or visit with out-of-state family. And many international students use the 5-day holiday to travel to big cities like Chicago or New York City. The tradition can be troublesome, however, for other visiting students who suddenly find themselves without plans, transportation or even housing.
This semester, GTI took initiative to set-up local American homestays during the holiday weekend. Calls for hosts started the last week in October, and we were able to find 28 families offering 55 spaces for international guests to share in their family’s Thanksgiving celebrations!
Applications then opened for GTI students who wanted to experience Thanksgiving with an American family. All 32 students who applied were contacted within a week with information about a host family for the holiday.
Some students were able to stay multiple days of the holiday weekend while others opted to join in just for Thursday’s festivities.
“It was a really great experience! The family has been so welcoming and nice with us. They talked about their family and they ask us about us and our families too. It was a sharing moment for all of us. We couldn’t have dreamt living a better first Thanksgiving!” — GTI student.
Having a local connection at a time like Thanksgiving can make a huge difference in the American experience for visitors. It’s not so much about the turkey and the pumpkin pie, but about the human feelings that go along with cooking, family, and holiday tradition.
The satisfaction of sharing America’s holiday may be visible in the gratitude expressed by the guest, but perhaps is even more moving in the feelings expressed by the host: “It was just what my family needed.”
GTI arranges American Dinners with local families a number of times each year. If you are interested in joining our database of Host Families, please fill out this simple Google Form.