Thanksgiving Holiday

This weekend, many QSoE students will have their first experience of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. When Thanksgiving was mentioned to some students, their first thoughts were of excitement for Black Friday, and the spectacular deals shoppers may find. However, Black Friday is a distinctly American phenomenon which coincides with Thanksgiving weekend in the United States. Although they celebrate the holiday in a very similar way, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday in November. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

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Cornucopia or ‘Horn of Plenty’ – a symbol of abundance and nourishment associated with Thanksgiving Day

Canadians have been officially celebrating Thanksgiving Day since 1879, when Parliament proclaimed it as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. The practice of having a special feast in thanks and celebration of the harvest at this time of the year has been a tradition of First Nations and Native American tribes, and of peasant societies in Europe for long before any records of Europeans holding formal harvest celebrations. One of the earliest recorded dates of such an organized celebration by European members of society dates to 1578 when explorers in the Arctic wrote of their harvest celebration during this time of the year!

In the United States, much of the origin of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday is attributed to the Pilgrims (early European settlers in Massachusetts) who celebrated their first harvest with a feast of freshly harvested North American foods. These foods likely included wild fowl (such as turkey, grouse, duck, or goose), indigenous berries and nuts, seafood, and foods which Native Americans were cultivating such as corn, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, and onions.

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Wild Turkeys

Today, both Canadians and Americans typically celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a day off of work/school, travelling to be with family and close friends, and honoring the blessings of their lives by sharing a feast including dishes such as a whole roasted turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin or apple pie. Roasting a turkey is something that is usually only done on Thanksgiving Day, though sometimes at Christmas or Easter as well. Although there are wild turkeys living in Ontario (which can be hunted and eaten), generally people buy domestically-raised turkeys from the grocery store, or from a local farmer.

We would love to hear about your experiences and see your photos of Thanksgiving Day celebrations! Email soe@queensu.ca to share.

Being a Homestay Host

By: Karen and Glen (Homestay Hosts for QSoE)

A number of years ago our oldest son was heading off to university, so we had an extra bedroom and a little space and time in our life.  We knew of other people who hosted international students.  Since I worked at the Limestone District School Board I made a call about having a student for a short time.  They checked us and placed a grade 6 boy from South Korea in our home.  That was the beginning of our 10-year adventure with students, male and female, from South Korea, China, Spain, France, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Quebec and Japan.

One of our earliest students, a 17-year old girl from China, worked very hard to be
accepted into Electrical and Computer Engineering program at one of the top universities in Canada.  She got a job with OPG, where she has been working for a few years now. We have kept in touch with her and were honoured to be at her wedding. We are now waiting to hear of the birth of her first child.  How quickly time goes by!

homestay blog pic 2 v2We have so many wonderful memories and are looking forward to making more. Currently, all three of our own children have flown the nest, so during the Fall term we had three students, two from Japan and one from China.  Each day we heard their English improving and their comfort with the language and our culture growing.

Over the years it has been such a pleasure to participate in the sharing of cultures and watching students come to understand the difference between the politics of a country and the person of a country.  They soon learn that political differences mean nothing when you are picking apples, shopping, or enjoying a meal together.

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Every day we feel fortunate to share our home with these amazing students.

Reflections from a QSoE Homestay host

By Belinda, QSoE homestay host

Homestay Article 2Homestay Host….a title I never contemplated until 2007 when I applied to Queen’s School of English to become one. Who knew it would turn out to be one of the very best decisions of my life!! The hundreds of students I have met since then have enriched my life in numerous ways.

Much to my delight, my home has become a safe haven for the students who are placed with me, as well as many of their friends and classmates. My “open door” policy has become well known at QSoE and we seem to always have extras; some are lonely, some are homesick, some have problems, some need help with their homework and some just want to hang out; but all receive a warm welcome.

Homestay Article 1Two lifelong dreams of mine have been realized by being a homestay host: to travel and to have a large family. At the invitation of the families of some of my students, I have been to exotic, exciting and interesting places around the world: Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, France and Turkey!  My “family” has continued to grow as some of my former students have married and now have children of their own; my “honourary grandchildren”.  In 2012, I visited Turkey for the second time to attend a wedding in the family of my beloved former student and I revelled in all the traditions and the exotic ceremony of this event. Later the same year, I travelled to Korea to meet my Korean/Irish granddaughter. What an amazing experience!! This year, my extended family expanded again with births in Columbia and Hong Kong. More places to visit; more babies to cuddle!!

Who knew, when I filled out the Homestay application form that my life would change so much, be so enriched, so fulfilled, so much fun and challenging all at the same time. This is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I am looking forward to many more years and many more students!