Home Away from Home for the Holidays

November 25, 2021 Sarah Harbison

Students and alumni refer to Hardin-Simmons University as their home away from home. For many international students at HSU, though, this saying becomes much more literal during the holiday season. As most students eagerly travel home to participate in yearly family traditions and for homemade meals, international students remain on the quiet campus, typically unable to fly home for holiday breaks.

Throughout the year, with special emphasis around the holiday season, HSU faculty, staff, and students open their homes and host various events to make sure our international students experience authentic family gatherings.

21 different countries are currently represented on campus. Stephen Corbett, International Student Advisor, described the effects of culture shock for these students by saying, “Oftentimes, around four to six months since leaving home, international students feel the weight of being away from friends and family, and loneliness can take hold. After this period, international students are hit with the reality that not everything in their new culture is easy to understand or navigate. It is crucial for students to develop relationships in the community during this time. Unfortunately, this period tends to fall during the holiday season.”

Sensitive to this timetable, HSU Round Table hosted a Thanksgiving dinner on November 18 for international students. The meal included a wide array of traditional Thanksgiving foods that many students had not eaten before. First-year student Anne Rangel ’25 described the new experience by saying, “It is cool to know how [Americans] celebrate and to know people went to so much effort to make this for us. It is really the best way to learn the culture.”

In between the delicious bites, students shared their experiences of being international students and the community they were able to find at Hardin-Simmons. Two students shared their testimony of how God had called them to Hardin-Simmons and the peace that the community had given them during the daunting transition.

Katrina Sie ’22 shared the meaningful impact of the event saying, “It is a reminder of the love that you would have at home. Everyone else can go home. When gatherings like this happen, you feel loved during a season where your family is not around, and you are reminded you’re not alone.”

If you are interested in serving our international students, to learn from their courage and faith, join the Global Engagement Care Team.