Canadian News Headlines – A global family: UPEI holds holiday dinner for international students – Prince Edward Island

Canadian news headlines

Enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings surrounded by loved ones is a quintessential part of the holiday season.

But for many international students at UPEI, going home to be with family simply isn’t an option. Expensive flights and a short holiday break make it particularly challenging to travel.

That means the university campus can suddenly turn into quite a lonely place when everyone else departs for home, leaving just a few students remaining.

But the university wants to ensure that no one is left alone during the holidays.

On Thursday, many international students gathered on a cold and blustery afternoon to share the warmth of fellowship, some Canadian Christmas traditions and make some new friends. 

‘Our families are our friends’

Caroline Simoes Correa came to study at UPEI from Brazil. She said the lunch is especially meaningful for those who are so far away for home.

Caroline Somes Correa

Student Caroline Simoes Correa says the dinner is especially meaningful for those who can’t be with their families over the holidays. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

“Here, when we’re here, our families are our friends, so this is just what this is all about,” she said. “Getting that sense of community and feeling like you’re a part of something, a part of a family.”

That family is made up of people from around the world. There are students at UPEI who hail from China, Brazil, the Bahamas and Nigeria among other countries. 

The dinner has been a tradition on campus for several years. For the first eight, it was held at the home of UPEI lecturer Inge Dorsey and her husband Rob. But, as the school’s international student population grew, the event moved to the chaplaincy on campus. 

Fostering community and connection

Students said events like this help foster a sense of community, and show that while they may come from all corners of the world, there’s a connection here.

International students dinner

Students enjoyed a turkey dinner, Christmas carolling and games. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

This year, over 70 students enjoyed a traditional celebration of Christmas turkey dinner, some carol singing and a feeling that home really isn’t that far away.​

“Family isn’t necessarily something you share with people who are related to you, but you share with people who love you and you love in return and I think I found that here,” said student Keyshawn Bonamy.

Simoes Correa added that she is especially grateful to have a network of friends on campus to share the holidays with.

“It’s very hard, so having this, it’s something to lean back on,” she said. “It’s a way of reminding ourselves of what Christmas is about and also reminding everybody around us we’re alone for a little bit, but we’re not completely alone.  We always have someone to lean back on.”



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Originally posted 2017-12-21 22:08:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter