Foreign students at Pitt enjoy Thanksgiving in Western Pennsylvania
When Harry and Elaine Edelman sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with 20 assorted relatives in their Strip District home, they will make an extra place at the table for Aqsa Kaleem.
Kaleem, a native of Pakistan, is a student at Juniata College in Huntingdon in Huntingdon County. She is among more than 11,000 foreign students in Western Pennsylvania, most of whom will spend this quintessential American family holiday thousands of miles from their own family.
“Often, students are literally alone and lonely,” Harry Edelman, 58, said.
As the international student population has grown, so have organized efforts to introduce those students to American traditions such as Thanksgiving.
At the University of Pittsburgh, where faculty and American students have reached out to foreign students informally for years, an effort took shape last year when 67 foreign students attended a Thanksgiving dinner Pitt held for them at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.
“Some students go home with friends for Thanksgiving, but I knew a lot of them didn't have anywhere to go,” said Shantia Key, an international programming coordinator and adviser at Pitt.
“When I asked the students what they'd like to do during Thanksgiving and winter break, they said, ‘What we'd really like is a Thanksgiving dinner.' ”
More than 140 foreign students registered to attend Pitt's second annual dinner at 3 p.m.
“They're really excited,” Key said.
The Edelmans are empty nesters.
They reached out to Kaleem through Global Pittsburgh. Harry Edelman has been active with the nonprofit organization, which works to ensure that foreign leaders and students have opportunities to make personal contacts in the region.
Like the Edelmans, retirees Irene and Leon Skolnick of Oakland have hosted foreign visitors repeatedly through referrals from Global Pittsburgh.
“You get so much out of it. It's a way of traveling without leaving home,” Irene Skolnick, 76, said, recalling visitors from Poland, Russian and China among others.
“We had a young Chinese student from Carnegie Mellon last year. She was very charming, and my grandchildren had an opportunity to meet her. My older grandson got to explain Thanksgiving to her and show off his knowledge.
“I'm a foreigner myself, so I think it's nice for foreign students to meet local people,” said Skolnick, who was born in Poland and went to school in France.
Harry Edelman has traveled extensively. But a well-thumbed passport and fluency in multiple languages are not requirements for hosts. Edelman said Global Pittsburgh works with hosts to ensure visits are comfortable and successful for all involved.
“We look at it as an opportunity to learn. We enjoy it,” he said.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- SWAT standoff on Pittsburgh’s North Side ends peacefully
- Reporter seeks male students headed to Chatham
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Derry boy recovering at home after high-profile intestinal transplant
- Fugitive arrested at Plum motel on drug, gun charges
- W.Va. authorities charge 87 with drug trafficking
- Newsmaker: Stephanie McMahon
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
- Western Pa.’s ties to 2016 White House race extend beyond Santorum
- Thief’s attorney blames Rivers Casino; judge isn’t swayed