From Albania to Zimbabwe: Thanksgiving Reflections

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No matter where you are in the world, From Albania to Zimbabwe is the right place to find out about international happenings at Brown University! Hi, I’m Celina Stewart, a sophomore concentrating in International Relations here at Brown, and this is my space to give you updates and info about all things international at Brown, including international student life, international speakers, and different clubs and activities with an international focus. Read along and explore everything international at Brown! 

This past Thursday marks one of the largest holidays celebrated in the United States- Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the holiday has been marked with overeating of traditional food like turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberries, bread-crumb stuffing, asparagus- and if you’re in my family, a variety of delicious Vietnamese food courtesy of my cousins. This entire overeating process is then counteracted (*wishful thinking*) by the calories burned carefully planning, outlining, and waiting in lines for that mad dash into whatever stores you’ve included in your Black Friday MUST HAVE hit list. The chaos at my local Walmart was incredible last year- and also unnecessary, as I ended up getting maybe three regularly priced DVDs.

I realize, however, that this holiday has little significance for some international students who don’t understand the history or general gluttony condoned on this particular Thursday-weekend period. On a happy historical note, the picture I used is from the street in Granada, Spain, on which its rumored that the sails for Christopher Columbus’s ships for the journey to the New World were made. While the history after his arrival is quite troublesome and has a lot of potentially touchy implications, I figured I’d share a quick story with you all in the spirit of giving thanks for friends and family.

When I was young, I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia and attended an international school during my time there. My best friends were Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and German, among many other nationalities. My absolute best friend was a girl named Monique, from Perth, Australia. Her family and mine were quite close, and as Thanksgiving approached, my parents suggested to hers that they come to Thanksgiving dinner with us. Her family was confused- they never celebrated Thanksgiving, as its hardly relevant in Australia. I remember spending some of that morning in class making a turkey out of my hand print, being dressed up either as a pilgrim or Native American (the class did an American history lesson for all of the students), and then coming home to a fully Americanized dinner (with a couple Indonesia dishes). We shared dinner that night, three Americans, four Australians, and four Indonesian friends, all enjoying the celebration.

My point with this story is to find relevance in seeming cultural difference- with friends, I’ve celebrated a variety of cultural holidays and festivals, including Chinese New Year, a Colombian folklore festival, the festival of San Juan, etc. Despite often times not fully understanding the implications of my participation, I have enjoyed learning and spending time with friends. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my family, my Brown family (cheesy but true), and for having the opportunity to share a small bit of my life and experience with you all.

I hope that wherever you are in the world, you can take the time to think of a couple things to be thankful for and join me, across the world, in a metaphorical Thanksgiving of our own.

Have  questions or comments? Feel free to email me at celina_stewart@brown.edu and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Or, if you’d rather, just comment on the blog! 

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