OU Students, Staff Create New Thanksgiving Traditions

Posted on:

< < Back to

Ayleen Cabas came to Ohio University for a two-year graduate program from her hometown in Venezuela, where most family members live right down the street from each other.

Last year, her first year of the masters program, Cabas traveled to Virginia to spend the holiday with her brother-in-law and sister, who is earning her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.

This year, however, Cabas is unable to travel.

Instead, she and a few of her friends, also international students, plan to have an “Friendsgiving” meal, possibly featuring dishes from each of their home countries: Venezuela, India and Ghana.

Cabas also looks forward to watching football on Thanksgiving day, and is upset that more of her American friends do not enjoy watching the game as much as she does. Although she has never seen the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, she is keeping it in mind this year.

“Families are very united (in Venezuela). People always look for ways to be close to your family,” she said. “I had to get out (of Venezuela to come to OU), and that’s hard. That’s something you carry with you every day. And things like this, Thanksgiving, you see everybody going to their home.”

Ayleen Cabas (second from right, with her sisters) is celebrating "Friendsgiving" with fellow international students. (photo provided)
Ayleen Cabas, second from right (with her sister, far right, and friends), is celebrating “Friendsgiving” with fellow international students. (photo provided)

Although Venezuelans do not celebrate Thanksgiving, Cabas values closeness with her loved ones. They may not be spending the holiday together, but she finds comfort and excitement knowing that in a few months, her parents will come to the U.S.

“Their first grandchild [Cabas’ nephew] is due Feb. 19,” she said, grinning from ear to ear.

For other OU students who are not going home for Thanksgiving, there are other options through the university. According to an email from delfin bautista, director of the LGBT Center, the Center will host its first-ever Rainbow Thanksgiving event.

“This is a new venture and adventure for us,” bautista said. “All are welcome to participate, (and) don’t have to be LGBTQ to join in the festivities. Also, I am mindful that many international students do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but will be around during the November break. They are welcome to join us.”

bautista added that Housing is allowing the Center to use the Carr Multipurpose Room and Kitchen from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Housing and Residence Life will host its own Thanksgiving Break activities. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, the Living Learning Center will serve food, provide games and more, according to a flyer provided by Sarah Oleksy, the director of residential education.

At any other point during the weekend, though, most students are likely to relax and catch up on sleep before coming back for week 15 and finals week.

“What I like about the idea of Thanksgiving is, at last, Americans take a break,” Cabas said. “You never take breaks! It’s like it doesn’t exist for you, and it has to! You finally take a break to go to your families.”

2015 Rainbow Thanksgiving poster