Rooted within this nation’s history, Thanksgiving is an American tradition that not many cultures around the world share. In order to teach the American holiday, Bellevue College’s Asian and Pacific Islander Student Association, and International Talk Time partnered for the very first time to host a “Thanksgiving lunch” on Nov. 19, in C130. Organizers from APISA and ITT provided refreshments and served apple and pecan pie.
In the past, ITT and APISA held separate Thanksgiving events, but this year, the two organizations united to serve a larger student population. “APISA is our way to show that we really want to embrace different cultures,” explained Phoenix Li, one of the leaders of ITT. “APISA focuses on smaller areas of the world, but our vision is the same for the students. We’re thankful to partner together for this event.”
“It’s natural for us to work together because we have the same goals and same students that we are focused on,” shared APISA’s coordinator, Gilbert Rillo.
At the start of the event, a cartoon titled “The First Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving story for kids,” was shown. The cartoon gave a brief background of the Pilgrims’ experiences in the New World and their encounter with the Native Americans, which ultimately led to the first Thanksgiving.
On each table, there were slips of paper with the question “What does Thanksgiving mean to you?” Attendees were asked to write their answers and volunteer to read their responses to the crowd.
Aside from teaching the history behind Thanksgiving, APISA and ITT designed the event to follow the overarching theme of the cartoon, which was the unity between different cultures. “That’s what we really want to show through this Thanksgiving event. We all can be friends with each other and be from different backgrounds, but we can all be tied together as students of Bellevue College,” said Brock Bass, coordinator of the ITT.
In addition, “It’s a good way for them to network and break the norm that international students can only hang out with their own groups, and they can hang out with others through this event,” added Rillo.
The organizers also had similar ideas of what Thanksgiving meant to them. “For me personally, Thanksgiving is our way to show thankfulness to God. I also think the idea of different cultures coming together to become friends and family is a tradition of Thanksgiving,” shared Li, “It’s not just about Black Friday shopping, but it is also being thankful for family and friends.”
“Thanksgiving is a day for you to be thankful for everything and of course, eating a lot of food,” joked Rillo.
For Bass, “It’s definitely a time of reflection and to be thankful for everything that I’ve been able to experience, whether it is my family or my friends, and even what God has brought into my life. It’s a time to slow down and not be so busy.”
This event is also a lead-in to an actual Thanksgiving dinner that will be hosted collaboratively by ITT and Essential Church on Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the SAMBICA camp and retreat center in Bellevue. It will be the second annual collegiate Thanksgiving dinner, which is mainly for international students, but open to all who contact Bass at firstname.lastname@example.org.