International students studying at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley experienced the Thanksgiving holiday after they were treated to luncheons at both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.
The Grab and Go Thanksgiving meals provided to the students had everything that families usually eat at their Thanksgiving meals including turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing, said, Samantha Lopez, director of the International Admissions and Student Services at UTRGV.
“What we do every year is that we plan a lunch on campus and we serve the students. We put on aprons and we serve them as many times as they want. We told them to bring their Thanksgiving pants,” she said.
The university receives students from 68 different countries including Mexico, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Gauna. It has 749 international students on both campuses.
Their top majors are Business Administration, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Manufacturing Engineering. The students have 75 different majors.
Edinburg students celebrated the holiday tradition on Tuesday while Brownsville students were treated to a luncheon on Monday.
Lopez said vegan meals were provided for those students who do not eat meat and gluten free meals were also provided. On Monday, 53 students attended the Brownsville luncheon. Some 155 students were expected to attend Tuesday’s luncheon in Edinburg.
The students know it’s a major holiday celebrated in the United States and we wanted the provide them with the opportunity to experience it, Lopez said.
“They are here by themselves and we want for them to feel good, to feel in the company of a family that cares about them, about students about sharing the traditions with someone that might not be accustomed to,” Lopez said.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the meals were handed out to the students rather then them gathering around a table to eat together.
“They were appreciative that our office went out of the way and had a lunch for them,” she said.
Some of the university’s faculty will be having some of the students at their homes on Thanksgiving Day, Lopez said.
“We have one faculty that is hosting more than five or ten at his house. We have people who are very grateful and they are very giving and we are very appreciative of our UTRGV family.”