When I first started volunteering as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher with international students, I realized I had the exciting opportunity to not only teach them English, but also United States customs. At the same time, I was able to learn about the students’ native languages and customs (ranging from Chinese to Japanese to Spanish to Arabic).
When Thanksgiving came around, I wanted to teach my students about Thanksgiving because of its significance in the United States. I also wanted to learn about international holiday customs, so I decided to plan an international Thanksgiving potluck. I invited the students over for dinner, where each student brought a favorite dish from his/her home country. Everyone who attended explained his/her favorite dish, its significance to his/her home country, and how he/she would celebrate holidays with family and friends. It was an enlightening experience to not only learn about each other’s differences, but also to learn about the many similarities we experienced across borders. I became inspired to think globally any time I celebrate a holiday. I also realized that while our customs and the meanings of holidays may differ throughout the world, we are all united by our love for family, friends, good food, and quality time together. Inspired to have an international Thanksgiving? One great idea is to invite your friends over for “friendsgiving” and have them bring a dish that represents their heritage. I also found this article with international recipes to give you ideas: 10 International Dishes for Thanksgiving. Below is one of my favorite points from the article:
“America is a country of immigrants, so it’s only fitting that we include international dishes in our national day of thanks. Doing so will not only enhance the standard Thanksgiving menu, it’ll help you learn about other cultures. Or just give you an excuse to eat pasta on Turkey Day. Either way, you win!”
I hope this post reminds you of the inspirNational mindset to think global and act local. I would love hear stories about how you celebrate international Thanksgiving, both in the United States and abroad (in the comments section below). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!