President’s office hosts Thanksgiving dinner for international students

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

On Tuesday, international students at Elon gathered for the special Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the President’s Office. The dinner began years ago as an event hosted by Elon Local Friends, a group of community members that support Elon’s International students, but has become an annual tradition celebrated by many Elon international students and supporters, both internally and externally.

“Thank you to the international community for being here tonight, taking this space and creating community. I know it’s a commitment right now, especially at this time in the semester … but it’s important that we take this time and space to come together,” said Mark Kurt, assistant dean of global education, at the Thanksgiving dinner.

President Connie Ledoux Book speaking to the crowd at the International Thanksgiving Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Kurt shared an excerpt from the land acknowledgment by the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation stating the land Elon University is on was traditionally part of the territory of the Saponi people in the Piedmont of what is now the state of North Carolina.

“Like many countries, we have a difficult past and I do want to focus this evening on the thanksgiving that is underway. But also to acknowledge that we can’t undo the history, but we can certainly do something about the future,” President Connie Ledoux Book said. “And that’s what makes an evening like tonight so beautiful.”

“It is so good to have an opportunity to celebrate with you all this evening an American tradition – Thanksgiving. One of the things I’m proud of is our commitment to the exchange of culture which has been part of Elon’s history for a long time,” President Book added. “I’m hoping that you all will share at your tables this evening about the traditions in your country as well.”

The International Thanksgiving Dinner gave students an opportunity to bond with one another.

For Johanna Lauff ’24, the Thanksgiving dinner was a way to decompress with familiar faces as the end of the semester nears.

“As everything gets a bit more stressful toward the end of the semester, I’m really thankful for an event like this,” Lauff said.

With live music and traditional Thanksgiving treats, the dinner created a warm environment for the international community at Elon to connect while also learning about a custom that is unknown to them.

“I think it’s great to feel included and as an international student, it’s great to get this American experience. It’s just a good time to sit together with some friends and then get to know new people and enjoy each other’s company,” Maria Ahm ’23 said.