Christmas is a magical time of year for all of us. The holidays are quickly approaching here at STU, and in a few short weeks we will all be heading home to our families for Christmas cheer. Well, some of us that is. St. Thomas University has a number of international students from countries all over the world who are unable to return home for the holidays.
But STU’s International Students Association have organized a series of events and activities for the approximate 10-15 international students who will be staying behind this Christmas season to bond and enjoy some holiday fun.
“The Friends of International Students, which is a really active association in Fredericton, is coordinating with the university and STUISA to get International Students that stay over the holidays to either go [to host families] for one of the dinners, or both of the dinners or stay for the entire holidays, but it all depends on the volunteer’s availability,” said STUISA president Sergio Guerrero.
STUISA’s president is no stranger to being away from home over the holidays, as he passed Christmas break with a host family last year.
“I went to their Christmas dinner, and to their New Year’s dinner, so it’s really comfortable to be with someone else during Christmas because otherwise you feel lonely.”
Students who are unable to be matched with a host family are able to stay on campus for the duration of the holidays but they will have to apply beforehand.
“At STUISA we also organize activities like little gatherings, or going to breakfast or dinner because we don’t want the International Students to feel like they are not at home,” said Guerrero. “We are trying to make Canada seem like their second home so we are probably going to organize one or two gatherings during the break.”
Marina Nedashkivska works as international student advisor at STU. She said she organized other activities for international students, such as a “good-bye party” for two Chinese students who will leave this December.
“On December 15 all international students who want to participate in a little workshop on pierogi making are invited to my house to prepare pierogis and other food we have discussed for the party, then we will have a nice evening with food, board games and a Christmas movie.”
Although lots of fun activities are planned for over the break, International Students will be faced with one major issue, food. STU’s cafeteria will be closed from December 19 to January 4.
Nedashkivska and STUISA have anticipated this problem and come up with a solution. “We will deal with that by taking them shopping [and] lending them a rice cooker,” said Nedashkivska. “The Campus Ministry Food Bank has promised to stuff the shelves with canned and non-perishable food items for the International Students to use if they cannot run to the store.”
According to Nedashkivska, students can also learn how to make fleece scarves, attend a special dinner put on by the Japanese Association of Fredericton on New Year’s Eve, and depending on the amount of snow on the ground, a special sliding party at the Agricultural Farm’s ground.