By Bill Bray Campus Ministry Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (November 22, 2017) – Here at the University of Virginia, and across the United States, American families are “setting an extra plate” for international student guests this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Over 1.2 million international students are enrolled in American universities this Thanksgiving. The international student population in the United States has again broken records this year, increasing by 3%. Here at the University of Virginia they come from 80 countries.
And it isn’t just families who are hosting these students. Many churches and student groups are uniting to sponsor joint events—like International Students, Inc. and Trinity Presbyterian did here last Sunday afternoon when they hosted over 400 students to a giant turkey feast.
Some students are invited home with American friends, but hundreds of thousands remain on campus during the holiday season.
The University’s International Students Office is facilitating the annual Thanksgiving Meal Match through staff and volunteers at the Lorna Sundberg International Center. Overseas Students Mission and International Students, Inc. have been hosting meal matches since 1953 according to Bob Finley, a University alum who founded both student organizations.
International students, scholars and their families are usually invited to join local families in their homes for the traditional Thanksgiving meal on the fourth Thursday of November each year.
“This is a great experience, both for the students and the host families, to share a truly American holiday,” says one couple who has participated locally for over 20 years.
Christian churches and mission organizations have seized on this opportunity to reach out in love to the visitors and their homelands. Those wishing to help cover the costs of organizing Thanksgiving and Christmas hospitality may send tax-deductible contributions to Overseas Students Mission, 257 Bob Finley Way, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
Photo captions: 1) Family share a Thanksgiving meal with international students. 2) Korean exchange students at the University of Albany enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. 3) Bill Bray.
About the Writer: Bill Bray is a Christian author and journalist who specializes in missions and student ministry trends at UVa and nationally. He is the author of, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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