An International Thanksgiving


Emily Loughridge

Quintin Pennells prepares in USAO’s cafeteria for his first Thanksgiving feast. Pennells said he has heard that traditional Thanksgiving meals have many dishes, so he is trying to prepare his stomach in advance.

Emily Loughridge, Contributing Writer

Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather and remember what they are thankful for. This long-standing tradition has evolved over the years to include Friendsgiving and other new traditions. No matter how you celebrate, the day is dedicated to being with your loved ones and being grateful for all that you have.

USAO is home to many international students, many of whom have never celebrated this American holiday.

Quintin Pennells, a South Africa native and USAO sophomore, will be celebrating his first Thanksgiving with a local family. Pennells was invited to several gatherings before deciding which one he would attend.

Pennells said he was very excited to attend his first Thanksgiving, where he will meet a lot of people and try a lot of different kinds of food.

“To be honest, I don’t know what dishes there are going to be. I am excited to try all of them, and I won’t be picky,” he said. Pennells said he will happily try the turkey.

Pennells said he has been surprised by some Thanksgiving traditions.

“I think the most shocking thing about Thanksgiving is how much food you guys make and eat, apparently. From what I’ve heard, there’s usually more the next day or for several weeks,” Pennells said.

As normal as Thanksgiving is to Americans, many international students do not know why Thanksgiving is celebrated. After asking around, Pennells said the most common response he was told was that it is an excuse to get together and eat food.

Being around a lot of new people can be nerve-wracking, but Pennells said he is extremely extroverted and does not think it will bother him.

“I’m not very nervous, as I am an outgoing person. I feel like I can mix and talk to other people and then just ask them how they feel about Thanksgiving and get to know them,” Pennells said. He plans to have his first Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day. The family gathering will be around 15 people with more dishes than imaginable. Some dishes will include sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, a turkey, and several pies.

“I would definitely hope I can make going to Thanksgiving an annual thing because it just sounds so good. You get to meet family and friends you haven’t seen in a while, and you get to eat a lot of food. I love food, so those are like my favorite things together,” Pennells said.

Luna Perez, a freshman from Belgium, will be going to her girlfriend’s home for the holiday. This will be Perez’s first Thanksgiving in the States.

“My expectations are that it’s just going to be a nice time with family. Nothing too big or out of the ordinary, but just a fun time,” said Perez.

She said she is unsure about what dishes will be served, but she is excited to sample them all.

Another international student who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year is Rory Pantophlet, a junior from Sint Maarten.

Pantophlet plans to spend a majority of Thanksgiving week in Florida where his team has a basketball tournament. He said he is hopeful that he can catch a flight to Dallas to see his girl.

“I am really just looking forward to the basketball games that we have coming up, and just being free from school. I am tired of waking up early in the morning for classes,” said Pantophlet with a chuckle. Pantophlet said that he and his family celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving at home, on his island, too. Like most people, Pantophlet said that the food is definitely the best part of the holiday.

“We normally go to the Pantophlet Villa, we have a little villa back on my island. We just come together and have a big Thanksgiving dinner; it is almost a family reunion,” Pantophlet said.

In the past few years, Pantophlet has spent most of the past Thanksgivings in America. One of his favorite Thanksgivings was when he went home with his friend Trey, a teammate from his basketball team. Pantophlet said that he met Trey’s family and they played a dice game called Left-Right-Center. He quickly explained how the game was played, saying that you could win up to $30 depending on how many people play.

“That was my favorite family dinner I have ever had because it was a whole new game that was introduced to me and everyone was very chummy together, everyone was roasting each other,” Pantophlet said.

Many students, including Pennells, Perez, and Pantophlet, are ready for home cooked meals and Thanksgiving arrived just in time to deliver that. This time of year is special because it unites family and friends together and reminds everyone to be thankful for what they have.


Emily Loughridge is a freshman communication major from Union City, OK.