The international student Christmas experience

Brittany Brooks -Opinion - Market

The Brock Community’s search for more holiday hosts continues as the season approaches. With the holidays approaching, many students are dreaming of putting up their decorations and dressing the tree once they get back home. But some students are going to be staying at Brock over the holidays. Some international students aren’t able to afford to journey back home over the holidays, and won’t have that opportunity.

Interim Associate Director of Brock International Services, Sandra Gruosso along with Brock, established the ‘Home for the Holidays’ program. Gruosso stated that she believes it’s a welcome opportunity for the community to give back to Brock students as it allows them to open up their homes to welcome international students with nowhere else to go for the holidays.

One international student, Ryan Zhao who is a third year accounting student, commented that it was a simple gesture that put a much needed positive spin on the holiday for international students with no one to celebrate with. He stated that it wasn’t as complicated as buying a student a gift, or donating some food. It was just offering them a seat at the table for a holiday meal, going out and tobogganing with them, or in Zhao’s case joining him to hand out food at a homeless shelter. He reported that he had not really celebrated Christmas even back home in China, but that he had always seen decorations around cities like Beijing and Tianjin.

Speaking with a member of the community, Hardy Wilkinson, who opened his home to students this past year, Wilkinson stated “Not only did it teach my children how to be grateful for being surrounded by people who love you, it was awesome feeling like I could give this stranger a special gift for the holiday season,” Wilkinson said. He took two students in for a family movie night and dinner and plans on doing the same thing this year.

“It is an incredibly easy process, and honestly I wouldn’t dream of not doing it again,” Wilkinson said. When asked if he had any words of encouragement for other families and parents to participate as well he encouraged families to look into their hearts and ask themselves if there was a personal gift they could give a student who is far from home at the holiday season.

Gruosso reported that the opportunity is open to any and all students who are going to be staying in the Brock area, and as such she encouraged any interested students to join the family-oriented fun as soon as possible.

The last information session was held on Monday November 27, but Gruosso reported that it is still not too late to register through ExperienceBU. While no firm date was placed on the ending of registration Gruosso simply added that registering as soon as possible would be wise.

For more holiday coverage stay tuned next week for The Brock Press’ annual Christmas issue.


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