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Campus & Community

More than the turkey and pumpkin pie

International students celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time are grateful for good health and the gift of peace

Thanksgiving desserts include pumpkin pie, cupcakes and cake with strawberries and blueberries on top.
Thanksgiving Day desserts are lined up on a table at a campus ward dinner.

With Thanksgiving Day happening soon, Isaac Guzman, a freshman from Ecuador majoring in finance and marketing, said the three things he is grateful for are first, the temple nearby, which is accessible to visitors. Second, he is grateful to his roommates for the stories they have shared and for the time they have spent together. Third, he is grateful that he is healthy that he didn’t been sick, which might have delayed his studies.

He said Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Ecuador. Although this is the case, he said he was still able to experience celebrating it when he was in high school because he attended an international school that celebrates holidays from other countries, including Thanksgiving.

Experiencing Thanksgiving for the first time

Guzman said this is his first time celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States. He said he is not expecting Thanksgiving here in Hawaii to be as big as in the U.S. mainland because, he said, even though Hawaii is part of the United States, it still has its own culture.

He said his plan for this year’s Thanksgiving is he is going to go to the Laie Hawaii Temple. According to him, he learned the Laie Hawaii Temple was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day.

Besides going to the temple, he said, he is planning to go out with friends and have a picnic and share some pie with each other. He added he is also looking forward to eating turkey because he loves it.

Benny Yip, a freshman from Hong Kong majoring in computer science, said when he thinks of Thanksgiving, he thinks of turkey. He commented, “I want to see how people celebrate it here because it is also my first time to be here [and] to celebrate this holiday.”

When asked what three things he is grateful for in his life, he said he is thankful for peace, revelation and the Holy Ghost. He said these three things guided him in his life and clarified the way to keep moving forward.

He said his plan this Thanksgiving is to attend his ward's Thanksgiving lunch. He added he also would go to town on that day.

Defining Thanksgiving from an American Perspective

Gatlin Armstrong Jordan, a sophomore from Moroni, Utah, majoring in psychology, said for him, Thanksgiving is a time when families get together. “[It’s] celebrating all the things that you have that you can be thankful for,” he stated.

“To me, Thanksgiving has a little bit more of a personal meaning [because] I met my wife the day before Thanksgiving here at BYU–Hawaii in 2017. And so, Thanksgiving is kind of taking on this extra meaning a little bit of our relationship. So, I just always think of her and our family on Thanksgiving,” he commented.

When asked how he and his family celebrate Thanksgiving, Armstrong said they celebrate like other American families. They have turkey, stuffing, rolls and desserts such as pumpkin pie. He remembered when he was a child, from time to time, they would go around the table and say the things they were grateful for.

Jordan said a great way to be grateful on Thanksgiving is to slow down and have time to think about the blessings one has gotten and to write them down on paper. He added, “When we've gone to my wife's family [one time] for Thanksgiving, we have a little journal and we write down little things that we're thankful for over the years. And so, it's kind of fun to go back and read those.”