Hearty Helping of Hospitality for Thanksgiving

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For many of Georgia Tech’s international students, Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition unknown and unfamiliar. It’s also a relatively short break, so many Yellow Jackets who hail from other countries do not have the opportunity to return home for the holiday.

That’s where some pioneering Georgia Tech Student Government Association leaders launched a program that bridges cultural divides and puts hospitality front and center. It’s called Home for Holidays. Families of students and staff open up their homes for international guests to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving.

For business administration student Julia Falvey, it was a way of returning the favor.

She studied abroad, and had to spend holidays away from her family ­– experiencing the homesickness.

“No one should spend Thanksgiving alone,” she says.

Falvey and her family welcomed Marius Oei from Germany and Juliane Grimee from Luxembourg into their home for the traditional spread.

The main course was a first for both of the guests. “They were surprised that turkey tasted so good,” Falvey said.

By the end of the meal, Falvey says her guests were sharing stories of their own family traditions for other holidays.

“The best part was sharing the meal together,” Falvey says.

Kathy Silver, a research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, began the tradition of inviting international students into her home as a non-traditional college student with two children in high school.  Last year was her first with her own children graduating from college and moving away from home.  She jumped at the opportunity to continue the tradition with Georgia Tech’s new Home for the Holidays program.

“Meeting new friends is the best part and the sharing of food serves as a universal language,” Silver explained.

She opened up Ting Qiu and Ling Li, two graduate researchers from China. Silver invited them to bring their families as well. Martin Nell, a student from Germany, also joined their table.

Silver says opening her home is just as rewarding for her.

“Neither my husband nor I live near our families, so we’ve always stayed local,” Silver explained. “This experience is always fun for my family.”



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    Steven Norris
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    Fletcher Moore
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