Yellow Jackets Wanted as Holiday Hosts
During school breaks, many international students are unable to travel to their home country.
In an effort to build a stronger campus community, the Student Government Association has created a program called Home for the Holidays, where Tech families living in the state of Georgia are given the opportunity to volunteer to host an international student at their home for a Thanksgiving meal.
Every year, hundreds of host families and international students come together in the spirit of Thanksgiving and enjoy meeting other fellow Yellow Jackets. And this year, because of the destruction by Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria, some students may not even have a home to return to for Thanksgiving.
Paul Kohn, vice provost for Enrollment Services, and his wife, Wendy, first hosted students as a way to get to know people from other backgrounds and to help students from far away adjust to a new environment.
“There is a peculiar charm explaining to our international guests why we eat certain foods as part of the Thanksgiving tradition, and even how we plate the holiday meal,” Kohn said. The Kohns are still left without answers to some cultural questions: Why do we call eggs “deviled”? And what is stuffing versus dressing?
Kohn and his wife have found the experience both fun and gratifying, and even keep in touch with some of their guests years later.
“With just a little effort, we have helped students from China, India, the U.K., and Germany enjoy a festive, convivial group experience,” he said. “The students are enormously grateful and appreciative.” Kohn has noticed past guests post photos on social media to share with loved ones and show that they are being taken care of in the Tech community.
The dinners with international guests have been some of the most memorable and enjoyable for his family.
“We have found the dinners to be most festive, never fraught with family-related drama, and overall just a delightful, rewarding way to spend the holiday. We appreciate the broad range of experiences as well as the courage of international students to traverse the
globe in pursuit of their education and to experience American culture.”
All faculty, staff, and current students are invited to host. Hosts can make preferences for how many students they can host, whether it would be overnight, and whether or not they can cater to various dietary restrictions. In a situation where a host has numerous guests from varying places, Kohn suggests making a little effort to stimulate interaction.
SGA usually gets more students wanting a host home than host volunteers, so every host submission helps to give students a memorable Thanksgiving experience.
Volunteer by filling out the form at c.gatech.edu/holidayhost.
For students who would like to be hosted, complete the form at c.gatech.edu/holidaystudent.
The deadline to apply as a host or student is Monday, Nov. 6. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.