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International Students Enjoy a Taste of Thanksgiving

Getting into the Thanksgiving spirit are front row: Perry Goldsberry (England), Archie Massen (England), Dillon Gaffney (Ireland) and Sam Butler (England); back row: Luis Lopez (Mexico), Thea Dybvig (Norway), Hanne Neby (Norway) and Maria Eriksen (Sweden).

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – NOV. 26, 2013"At home, we have turkey at Christmas," said Dillon Gaffney, a junior at The University of Texas at Brownsville, as he enjoyed a Thanksgiving lunch a few days in advance of the holiday.

From Kildare, Ireland, Gaffney was among 89 international students who were treated to a Thanksgiving feast by the Office of Global Engagement on Monday, Nov. 25, in the Salon Cassia.

"This is a little taste of America, my second Thanksgiving here in the States," chimed in Archie Massen, a sophomore who hails from Lincoln, England.

Massen, a kinesiology major who hopes to coach in the future, and Gaffney, a communication major who jokes about becoming a talk show host, perhaps the next Piers Morgan, came to UTB as athletic recruits to play soccer for the Ocelots.

"It's very kind for the Global Engagement folks to put on this meal for us to all enjoy, especially since we'll not have the opportunity to be with our families over the holiday," Gaffney said.

Dr. Alla Paroiatnikova, Executive Director of Global Engagement, and her staff welcomed the students to Salon Cassia where tables were decorated for the season. Each place at every table held an information sheet about Thanksgiving for the students to learn more about this uniquely American holiday.

"We are delighted to share this custom with our international students," Paroiatnikova said. "For some, this is their first Thanksgiving meal, while others have been here a year or more and are familiar with this custom. The Office of Global Engagement is the hub for our international students; we are here to make their time at UTB as productive and culturally enriching as possible. We also want them to learn about this very American tradition of a special Thanksgiving meal when a whole family meets to celebrate it together, and this way they can experience it with their family of international students." 

Global Engagement staff served Thanksgiving dinners to 89 international students.

From Kazakhstan, Askar Kassymov and Zamart Ramazanova were seated at a table with students representing three other countries: three from Matamoros, Mexico, majoring in biology, biomedical research and bioengineering, two physics students from China, and a Russian student studying accounting.

Ramazanova is in her third year at UTB working on her master's in physics, whereas Kassymov is at UTB for only three months as an exchange student from his university, Kazakh National Technical University After K.I. Satpayev in Almaty in southern Kazakhstan. He is working on research with Dr. Karen Martirosyan, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Both agreed the Thanksgiving meal was delicious. As for Mexican food, Kassymov said he is not fond of spicy dishes, but he has enjoyed a taco or two, although he prefers "not to have a spicy taco every day."

For more information on international studies, contact the Office of Global Engagement at 956-882-7690 or



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