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ASU gives students a chance to give thanks

harvest scene
November 24, 2015

This time of year is traditionally a chance to give thanks while surrounded by friends and family. However, not all Arizona State University students are able to travel home for the holidays. 

Various campus organizations are working to bring ASU’s culturally diverse student body traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving meals, as well as a homey atmosphere.

Every year, the Off Campus Student Services department partners with the Sun Devil Family Association to provide traditional Thanksgiving meals to in- and out-of-state and international students — as well as their family and friends.

Their Thanksgiving Dinner has been bringing holiday traditions to students since 2007. More than 50 participants attended the first year. Since then the number of students, family and friends has increased to 363. This year, the department hopes to serve 500 attendees, according to Maureen Duane, ASU Family Resources program coordinator senior.  

This year's Thanksgiving dinner will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, at the Off-Campus Student Services Building on the Tempe campus. The dinner is free; a canned-food donation is requested for the City of Tempe Food Bank. An RSVP is required; find more information here.

The November holiday is typically celebrated in the Unites States and Canada (which has its own version of the holiday), but ASU is home to thousands of international students who may be unfamiliar with the holiday or do not celebrate it. Those students are given an opportunity to come together and give thanks during the annual Gratitude Dinner.

This is the second year that the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) is hosting the Gratitude Dinner. Last year approximately 100 graduate students attended the potluck dinner, and GPSA President Pauline Venieris anticipates that the number will increase this year.

“This is a time to be around the community that you are a part of and a time to be grateful for where you are,” Venieris said. “Many of the students who come are international students, and they express how grateful they were for a place during for them to be during this time.”

Venieris explained that students are able to get a taste of home while experiencing cuisines from all over the world. Those who have attended in the past brought dishes like handmade dumplings, freshly rolled sushi, various curries and baklava to the potluck for their fellow classmates to try.

This year’s Gratitude Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, at the Graduate Student Center in the Center for Family Studies building on the Tempe campus.

“Many of the students who come are international students, and they express how grateful they were for a place during for them to be during this time.” 
— GPSA President Pauline Venieris

Chun Tao, director of International Student Concerns for GPSA, has been planning the Gratitude Dinner for a few weeks now. She says that even though all students do not celebrate Thanksgiving, this event caters to a diverse group of people, giving them a way to come together and express gratitude.

Tao and a group of students from GPSA have been working to set up activities for students at the dinner — from writing letters to their families thousands of miles away to writing down what they are grateful for:

“Taking time to reflect on things you are grateful for can contribute to your happiness,” Tao said.

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