For the first time in my eight years at USC, I signed up last November to participate in the Thanksgiving Match-Up Pro gram organized by the Office of International Services. For the past year or two, I had noticed the ads and considered making the move but was always too nervous or too lazy or both.
[In 1999], with a small and cozy family group joining me and my husband for the holiday, I decided that it might also be nice to welcome a stranger or two. We are accustomed to doing this for Passover, when sharing with others is part of the very idea of the holiday. But for Thanksgiving, which revolves almost entirely around the meal itself and the people gathered to enjoy it, inviting unknown people felt riskier.
Nonetheless, my husband and I decided to take the plunge.
A week or so after signing up, I received an e-mail message with the names and contact information for two students, both with, to me, unpronounceable names. I promptly sent responses, with our address and directions to our house. I also told them a bit about the people who would be in attendance, the menu and the background of our family.
Right away, I heard back. One wouldn’t be able to come. The other, who shortened her name to “Ann,” wrote back very courteously and explained that a friend would drive her to our home. I asked if the friend would like to join us as well, and so we were pleased to host Ann and Jill, both from Thailand, both graduate students in engineering.
Having Ann and Jill with us was a wonderful experience. They came bearing gifts: Thai candy and sweet little key chains that we still use. They seemed to enjoy all the new foods with their distinctive Thanksgiving flavors. When we followed our usual custom of reading a few poems and offering reflections before serving the meal, they listened attentively. They brought a breath of fresh air into our home. I heartily recommend participating in the Match-Up Program. We certainly plan to do this again!
– From January 2000
Office of International Services.
Friday, Nov. 10, is the deadline to sign up as a Thanksgiving host for an international USC student. Call (213) 740-1573 for information.