By Abigail Kishimoto, Head Culture Co-Writer
Photos from mbutimeline.mobap.edu, advantour.com, and wallpaptersas.com (Collected by Phoebe McCutcheon)
As the holiday season approaches, college students everywhere begin to solidify their plans for how they will spend the holidays. For most, the ideal situation is to head home to see family and be surrounded by people that they love. For some, especially international students, going home is not always possible.
McKendree is home to many International students. In fact, McKendree has students from at least thirty-nine countries represented in the student body. Thus, it is important to recognize how international students feel about the holidays that are recognized by the university.
Through talking with some international students, many expressed that the main holiday that they do not get to spend with family is Thanksgiving. For some students here, Thanksgiving is not celebrated where they grew up, so it is exciting to get to experience this American holiday with people that they have grown close with here.
However, there are drawbacks to the university’s limited recognition of holidays. In some examples, the same holidays in America are simply at a different time for countries that are home to international students. Quinn Atchison, who grew up in Canada, Thanksgiving occurs in October so she never gets to spend this holiday with her family. She gave some insight on her experience with missing this holiday.
“My freshman year here at McKendree my teammate took me to her family’s Thanksgiving, and I had a great time celebrating thanksgiving with her and her family,” she shares. “Spending time with her extended family and participating in America’s traditions of Thanksgiving was a really good experience and helped me feel less homesick.”
For the most part, international students expressed that they enjoy having the opportunity to experience holidays that are observed in America. Viola Cipriani, an Italian student here at McKendree, expresses her feelings about these experiences.
“I do enjoy American holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas because there is a beautiful atmosphere with the whole house decorations and various events,” she says.
It is also worth mentioning that many international students pointed out that the way Americans decorate for holidays is very extravagant. It is often much more than what they were used to before they came to school and had the opportunity to experience these holidays firsthand.
On the other hand, perhaps McKendree should make more of an effort to recognize and celebrate holidays from around the world to make international students feel more at home.
“I do not think that it would be a bad idea to incorporate other holidays not related to the ones in the United States because it would provide an avenue for other students to gain a greater cultural understanding,” says John Bodden, a senior from the Cayman Islands. “To be honest, with over 39 countries represented at McKendree, you’d imagine that there would be more events in which other culturally different holidays are celebrated. I can only remember one time during my time here at McKendree that different culture—Latin America—was exposed to the campus.”
In a very small effort to gain a greater understanding of which holidays from different cultures are celebrated by students from McKendree University, here is what a few students have to offer about holidays that differ from what is celebrated here:
“One of my absolute favorite Albanian holidays has to be Albanian Independence day, where, much like we have July 4th here in America, in Albania we celebrate with huge concerts and parties where all family and friends get together.”
-Fetiol Hyke (Pogradec, Albania)
“One holiday that I felt was missing since I’ve been here is the Chinese New Year, which varies from year to year.
-Diego Tapia Fraites (Madrid, Spain & Hong Kong SAR)
“Russian people celebrate Christmas on January 7th, and this holiday is not as big as Christmas in the United States. Instead of having Christmas as one of the main holidays in the year, Russians celebrate New Year as the one of the most valuable days and according to Russian’s traditions Santa Claus (we call him Ded Moroz) comes during this night from December 31st and January 1st.”
-Nikita Sokov (Russia)
All in all, it can be exciting to learn more about how different cultures celebrate holidays. Maybe in the future, there could be more events that recognize these holidays from over thirty different countries!