Michelle Fitzgerald, administrator of exchange student services, values the experience of sharing her Thanksgiving with visitors from overseas, and encourages her campus colleagues to consider registering for the Host for the Holidays program.
“If your family dinner is like mine, there is usually so much food that a few more people won't make a difference,” Fitzgerald says. “You are introducing the students to this bit of Canadian culture and at the same time you get to see the Thanksgiving celebration through the eyes of someone else.”
A project of the International Students Centre, the program matches international students with local families willing to open their homes for a Thanksgiving meal. Fitzgerald points out that hosts can specify any date on the Thanksgiving weekend for the dinner, and the sharing is a two-way street.
“Your family will get a chance to meet and talk with a student from another country,” she says. “This is very fun and interesting.”
Organizers say the program is currently receiving far more applications from students than from families to host them. To register as a prospective host, fill in the online form on the program Web site, uwindsor.ca/isc/host. Organizers will match hosts with guests based on a number of factors—dietary preferences, tolerance for pets, timing of the meal, and even convenience of transportation.