BROWNSVILLE & EDINBURG, RGV – Hundreds of international students gathered at UT-Rio Grande Valley’s Edinburg and Brownsville campuses to share a staple Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing and, naturally, pumpkin pie.
Students from around the world shared laughs and conversations as they celebrated the unique American holiday.
This is the third year the International Admissions and Student Services (IASS) department has invited the university’s international students to celebrate Thanksgiving. There are roughly 800 international students at UTRGV, representing about 65 countries.
Samantha Lopez, director of IASS, said the meal is a way to introduce the students to U.S. traditions, and a way to thank them for choosing to attend UTRGV.
“IASS celebrates Thanksgiving since it is a national holiday in the U.S.,” said Lopez, who was born in the United States but raised by her parents in Mexico. “We want to expose the international students to American traditions that are part of our culture. We also want to express our gratitude for choosing UTRGV as their school to pursue their studies in the U.S.”
Steam rose from mounds of turkey and ham, and the mouth-watering aroma of a Thanksgiving meal filled the air – a meal very different from the one Andrés Eduardo Treviño had planned.
“I was going to eat Ramon noodles, but this is much better,” said Trevino, a student from Mexico who is studying at UTRGV’s Brownsville campus. “It is super good.”
Daniel Trekn, an international student from Ghana earning his Ph.D. in information systems, said the message behind Thanksgiving resonates in his culture as well.
“In my culture we love to show our appreciation a lot. I like that in America there is a specific day to show your appreciation,” said Trekn, who is studying at UTRGV’s Edinburg campus.
Aminur Chowdhury, a graduate chemistry student from Bangladesh who is studying at UTRGV’s Edinburg campus, echoed that sentiment, adding that he particularly enjoys the international community at UTRGV.
“Thanksgiving is completely new to me, but in my country we have similar things,” he said. “I am almost 10,000 kilometers from my family so this (the students sitting around him) is my family for now.”