The Green family: A home for international students away from home

January 14, 2019 Lucila Decia, Student Writer

(Originally published on The Baptist Standard)

Laughs, joy, fellowship, and a spirit of home is what the Green’s weekly dinner is all about. Every Friday, Art and Susan Green serve dinner to all the international students from HSU and ACU, at times more than one hundred people, making them feel at home even when they are away from their families. The Green’s home, which is within walking distance of HSU’s campus has been the center of activity for international students in Abilene for more than 16 years.

The tradition started 31 years ago when another Abilene family would cook dinner for Asian students from ACU each Friday. After that family moved away, the Green’s took the tradition into their home and decided to open their doors to every international student in town. Every week Mrs. Green prepares her best American recipes to serve for the students. She had such good feedback that every time there were more and more students coming for dinner to try her well-known food.

“We used to have 20 at first, then it kept on growing, and there was a time where we will host approximately 100 people for dinner. Now, we expect around 50 students,” said Mr. Green.
Being part of this event is special for international students because it brings a sense of unity, respect, fellowship, and love.

The Greens prepare homemade food served in a buffet for all the students. After dinner, everyone retires to the living room to worship and praise the Lord by singing. Mr. Green usually offers a short lesson about the importance of sharing, and he makes those present participate by telling their stories. Later, everyone joins in for dessert and says goodbye.

“I think the Green’s dinner is the best community for international students who are far away from home and for getting to know different cultures. What I like the most is that there are good food and friendly, warm people,” said Chelvy Eunike, a freshman student from Indonesia.

The Greens work hard to make this experience the best they can for students. They want to embrace the family spirit as much as possible, even with small actions like remembering everyone’s names from week to week. That may seem like a small detail, but when a student is far from home being recognized and welcomed can make a huge difference. Another weekly tradition is to take a photo with anyone who is attending for the first time and write their name and country on the photo so that everyone can remember their visit. Many students are surprised at how well Mr. Green remembers their names.

“I was very impressed at how welcoming and intentional the Greens were in getting to know each person. Even though there were plenty of students from all over Abilene on any given week, the Green’s remembered each student by name and always greeted us with such remarkable hospitality,” said Michelle Chahyadi, a junior from Malaysia.

The Greens have also been blessed by friends and family who help them bring together the weekly meal. For example, their next door neighbors go over to the Greens every Friday after all the guests have left to help them do the dishes and clean up. “We want to bring everyone together. We want to serve to all these students no matter where they come from,” said Mr. Green.

Zoey Abigail, a freshman from Indonesia, shared her experience at the dinner and what it means to her. “The Greens is a good place for international students to know that they are not alone, that there are others that can understand what they are going through, that builds a unique community that I think everyone should have. Plus they serve free food.”

The message that Art and Susan Green are trying to impart on these students is that sharing is what makes us the best people. They learned to open their home to different cultures and different people with the mission of bringing them together. International students are thankful for having the opportunity to feel like they have a home far away from home.