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Pass the Turkey, Please 

Doctoral student Marzieh Dehghan Chaleshtori shown at last year's Thanksgiving Dinner for international students. She plans to attend again on Thursday evening.    

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 15, 2017) – UAlbany students from all over the world will sit down together on Thursday evening for the International Student Thanksgiving Dinner.

When everyone else on campus seems to be going home and you are still on campus, it can be lonely.

“Then, you wish you could also go to your home country and spend time with your family,” said Marzieh Dehghan Chaleshtori, a doctoral student from Iran who expects to graduate in 2020. “Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it might seem. For international students such as me who are from a country so far away as Iran, it is difficult to pay a visit regularly.”

In addition to the distance, visa issues and political issues between countries make it even harder for some students to go back home.

“Issues such as the travel ban and things like that have given us a hard time as it gives us a lot of pressure and stress. What if I go home and am not able to come back to the U.S.?” said Marzieh, who chose UAlbany in part because her research interests matched those of faculty in the Curriculum and Instruction program in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice.

That’s where the International Student Scholar Services (ISSS) steps in, with an American Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, served in the Hall of Fame Room at the SEFCU Arena on Thursday at 4 p.m. Some 70 students are expected to attend the dinner, according to International Student Coordinator Kayla O’Donnell.

Last year's dinner

 A scene from last year's Thanksgiving dinner for international students. Some 70 students have already signed up for this year's celebration.

“I loved last year’s Thanksgiving event,” Marzieh said. “The ISSS staff members are amazing. They are very kind and friendly, and make us feel as though we belong to a big family of international students.”

Last year, she had fun decorating cookies and coloring. The sheet she colored last year now hangs on the wall of her room as a memento of last year’s event.

Adventurous by nature, Marzieh likes to see new places and meet new people. She enjoys learning new things.

“I like this country as I can see people from all around the world here with different languages and cultures,” she said. “Being in the U.S. is a great opportunity for me to learn many new things.”

Marzieh, now a member of the Iranian Student Organization, UAlbany Tango club and UAlbany Outdoor, knew almost no one on campus when she first arrived.

“I had no relatives or friends here but soon after coming here, I found many nice friends,” she said.

Orientation sessions for international students helped. Later, she became an Orientation Assistant and volunteer for ISSS, where she made even more friends. Joining clubs helped even more.

Her assessment of this American holiday?

“I like it. I think it is interesting,” Marzieh said. “Turkey is one of my favorite parts.”

The dinner, which sponsored by University Auxiliary Services, costs $5 per person. Pre-registration is required.

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