President Connie Ledoux Book hosts annual International Thanksgiving Dinner

International students, faculty and staff gathered on Monday for a special Thanksgiving dinner with President Book.

In what has become an annual tradition, international students at Elon gathered with faculty and staff Monday night for a Thanksgiving meal in what has become an annual tradition at the university.

As Director of International Student Services Kristen Aquilino observed, “We come together to do just that – to come together.”

The evening was a time for the international community to share in the tradition of a Thanksgiving meal while also learning about each other’s cultural and holiday traditions. Aquilino opened the event by sharing the land acknowledgement written by Elon’s Project Pericles and encouraging attendees to engage with Native American Heritage Month events hosted by the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education and its partners.

President Connie Ledoux Book shared remarks on the Thanksgiving holiday, framing it as an opportunity to focus on gratitude, both for the presence of international faculty, staff, and students on Elon’s campus, as well as the chance to share a meal together following the cancellation of the previous year’s dinner due to the pandemic.

The International Student Thanksgiving originated at Elon as an event hosted by Elon Local Friends, a group of town community members that support Elon’s international students and provide opportunities for cultural exchange.

Dani Maluta (left) and Katinka Simoens (right), Doctor of Physical Therapy Program students on exchange from Belgium.

The potluck dinner quickly outgrew its origins, transitioning to an event supported every other year by the Office of the President. Since President Book took office in 2018, she has hosted the event annually (apart from last year’s dinner, which was canceled due to the pandemic) as a reflection of her commitment to the international community.

Beyond a traditional spread of carved turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and, of course, cranberry sauce, attendees enjoyed live music, having their caricature drawn, and the warmth of gathering with friends.

President Book capped the night with a gift: Elon knit hats, perfect for the chilly days in store as the semester winds down.

Paul Kuttene ’22 (left) and Moritz Lederer ’22 are international business dual-degree students from France and Austria.