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Hosting UMD International Students

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Families Meet Students from Around the World


Hosts from UMD and the College of St. Scholastica joined to put on a Thanksgiving party. Top row: (l-r) Ondrej Zjevik (math student, Czech Republic), George and Jane Killough (St. Scholastica), Ben Borchert (host), Xuran Yan (math student, China), Jeremiah Zblewski (math student, Wisconsin). and Xianwu Zhang (math student). The bottom row includes Shinjini Kar (math student, India), Pearl Fuller (Katie's grandmother), and Katie Borchert, (math student and host).  
Madiha Mirza, an international student from Pakistan, with the Thanksgiving Turkey.  

UMD's student body of 11,729 students includes about 304 international students from 41 countries. Every year faculty, staff, and community members enjoy the company of students from around the globe. They take international students on outings, go out to restaurants, invite them to their homes, and celebrate holidays. Sometimes, especially just before school opens in fall, host families share their homes for a few days to two weeks as students arrive in the U.S.

Friends of International Students supports UMD's international efforts by offering events that build links between the U.S. and international students. The community organization Friends of International Students is in partnership with UMD's International Student Services office to match families in Duluth who are interested in learning about other cultures by meeting international students and inviting them to learn about U.S. culture.

International students need places to go over winter break, Dec 22-Jan 21. Consider a meal, a trip to a museum, a tour of a business, an evening event, or a longer stay. For more information on hosting a student or joining Friends of International Students, see the International Student Services website. Contact 218-726-7531 or 218-726-7305 or email Trish O'Keefe or Anna Gilmore. |

International Student Gives Thanks

by Madiha Mirza

Turkey, winter squash, mashed potatoes, cubed stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, corn, salad, celery and cream cheese, pumpkin pie, apple pie, blueberry pie, and tons of food on the table were not what made Thanksgiving special for me this year. It was the love, warmth, and hospitality of my American host family that made this traditional American holiday a memorable one for me.

As an international student from Pakistan, Thanksgiving break meant homesickness due to the long distance from my family and home. But thanks to Jodi Carlson Grebinoski, reference and government documents librarian at UMD, who invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family in her hometown of Finlayson, Minn., I was able to enjoy this traditional American holiday in an American home and learn about the American culture.

Having grown up in Pakistan, my perception of Thanksgiving was based on Hollywood movies which show this holiday as a time when all the family gets together to offer thanks for blessings, create a little bit of drama, and of course celebrate by eating food-lots of food.

However, the experience with my host family not only gave me the chance to try certain foods for the first time, such as, the traditional pumpkin pie, celery stuffed with cream cheese, tasty stuffing and cranberry sauce, it also taught me about the origins and traditions of this American holiday, engage in a cross-cultural experience, see the world from a different point-of-view, visit a Midwest small town, enjoy a hayride and most importantly, to form lifelong friendships. My host family also took interest in learning about Pakistan-the culture, traditions, social values and customs. We engaged in an interesting discussion and they had fun looking at the pictures of my family and hometown.

I am thankful to my American host family for sharing their culture with me and letting me experience Thanksgiving in a true American spirit. The most meaningful thing I learned is that despite all the differences, ordinary people everywhere are loving, peaceful, courteous and deserve respect.

I am proud to call Thanksgiving my favorite time of the year and I cannot wait to tell my family back home about the scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner I had and that I got to experience the American culture as shown in the movies!

Reprinted from the November 28, 2012 issue of the UMD Statesman.

thanksgiving cherylshouse
Madiha Mirza with the family of Jodi Carlson Grebinoski on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving weekend party. Top row: Kristoffer Roedvei from Norway, Ondrej Zjevik from Czech Republic, William from Indonesia, Robert Aho (Duluth host), Abhishek Shah (UMD alumnus from Nepal), Hugh Reitan, (Duluth host). Bottom row: Madiha Mirza from Pakistan, Anh Phung from Vietnam, and Lori Aho (Duluth host).
anh and ann commencement
Students Thu An Nguyen and Anh Phung make egg rolls. Commencement dinner with Anh Phung's parents from Vietnam and William's mother from Indonesia.
paul and mary  
Hosts Paul and Mary Treuer with students (center) Kuravi Hewawasam and his wife, Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, from Sri Lanka.  

November, 2012

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