Lakehead University hosts 'home for the holidays' to give international students local festive experience
University program pairs international students with faculty and staff to share holiday traditions, meals
Lakehead University is once again holding their "home for the holidays" program, which matches international students with faculty and staff members to share meals and traditions over the holiday season.
Sarah Melvin, the international student coordinator at Lakehead University, said that since many international students choose to stay in Thunder Bay during the winter break, the university wanted to make sure that they would have options to stay busy.
"It's nice to provide them with some fun options to do over the holiday break that will allow them to still feel at home and make new friends," she said.
Melvin added that often a special relationship develops between the students and the hosts as they spend time together and learn about each other's lives and traditions.
"It's great for international students, they learn about our Canadian customs and traditions, and in turn they also share their culture and traditions with the host and their families ... and we find more often than not that our hosts and students stay in touch afterwards," said Melvin.
Richard Clark will host ten international students for a Christmas Eve dinner this year, after hosting his first group of students in 2017.
The student success advisor at Lakehead said that he enjoys hosting the students because "it is a really neat opportunity for my family and I to learn about other cultures and share some of what we care about with others."
One of the students that Clark will be hosting this year is Abu Hena Kamal, a first-year student in computer sciences from Bangladesh.
Kamal said he wanted to participate in the program "to know more about the Canadian home culture, like how they celebrate their Christmas."
He added that he has "no idea" what is going to happen when he attends dinner with Clark and his family.
"In my mind, what I think about Christmas is Santa," Kamal said. "I have no more idea beyond that what is going to happen in Christmas."