DC’s international students get taste of Thanksgiving

Toni Wei is an international student from Taiwan. She is enrolled in the animation program at Durham College. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

The Thanksgiving tradition that families across Canada celebrate has been marked annually for more than 100 years. The national holiday, that takes place the second Monday of every October in Canada, began as a way to give thanks for the blessings and harvest received that year.

The Americans hold their Thanksgiving in November.

While Thanksgiving is common knowledge to those born and raised in North America, it isn’t necessarily the case for those from other parts of the world.

The Chronicle asked some international students at Durham College (DC) what they thought of the holiday.

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Aishwarya Margaret Verghese, a second year student from India, moved to Canada in 2018 for better education opportunities. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Aishwarya Margaret Verghese, 20, studies biomedical engineering at DC. She hails from Kerala, India. Verghese moved to Canada a year ago for “better education opportunities.”

Thanksgiving is not celebrated in India so Verghese says it’s just a day off school to her.

“I’ve got lab work and assignments due so I’ll be spending the weekend with my homework,” she says.

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Toni Wei, an international student from Taiwan enrolled in the Animation program at Durham College.

Toni Wei, 19, is an animation student at DC. She moved to Canada two years ago from Taiwan. She says she both loves and hates her program.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding to look at it later,” she says.

Wei is part of a club at DC that caters to international Asian students. She will be going to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the club. The club is a platform to interact with each other, she says.

“We don’t have our family here so this gives us an opportunity to gather round with friends and catch up with each other,” Wei says.

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Dylan Chandrasinghe, a 20-year-old student from Sri Lanka, is pursuing at IT career in Canada. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Dylan Chandrasinghe, 20, moved to Canada a month ago from Sri Lanka to pursue a career in IT. He is enrolled in the computer systems technology program at DC.

“I’m really new here but so far, so good,” he says. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Sri Lanka but Chandrasinghe wants to start celebrating as “it’s something new to try out.

“Thanksgiving starts from tonight in Canada so I guess me and my friends will be partying from tonight,” says Chandrasinghe. “Partying all day, all night.”

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Olzhas Ilyasso, from Kazhakstan, moved to Canada in September of this year for school. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Olzhas Ilyasso, 19, is from Kazhakstan. He is a first-year student in the biotechnology program at DC.

“We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but I’m planning to have a small dinner with my relatives here,” he says. “It’s a day to be grateful for the people around you.”

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Kevin Johnson hails from France. He finds Canada "good but too cold." Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Kevin Johnson, 19, moved to Canada eight years ago from France. He is enrolled in the protection and security investigations program at DC. Johnson says Thanksgiving is celebrated in France as well, but at a different time of the year.

“I’m going to go to one of my friend’s house to see how they celebrate Thanksgiving, compared to us,” he says.

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Brandon Hope, from Barbados, is a second year student in the Fitness and Health program at DC. Photo credit: Soyra Mokashi

Brandon Hope is an international student from Barbados. He is in his second-year of the fitness and health program at DC. Hope experienced his first Thanksgiving a year ago, right after he moved to Canada.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do this year. Probably spend the weekend with my friends, as usual,” he says.