International Students Enjoy Warm Welcome for Thanksgiving

Some international kids from this and past years

According to Pew Charitable Trusts, “the number of U.S. college students from overseas has skyrocketed in recent years, with more than 886,000 studying on American campuses this past academic year — an all-time high and more than double the number of foreign students 20 years ago. California, New York, Texas and Massachusetts top the list of states with the most international students. Alaska, Wyoming, Maine and Vermont have the least. But in terms of percentage of total enrollment, a different picture emerges. Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and New York have the highest shares. But the next four are Delaware, Washington, Rhode Island and Indiana, each with 6 percent or more of their college students from abroad. On the other end, Maine, Mississippi, Alaska and West Virginia have the smallest shares at under 2 percent.”

Thornton has been changing Maine’s statistics by enrolling students from around the world.

Dorm students are now a huge part of the environment. Thornton Academy was founded in 1811. It’s a historic co-educational and non-sectarian independent school educating 6-12th graders in Maine. According to the school’s website the majority of our students are day students from the towns of Saco, Dayton, Arundel, and other towns in the Greater Portland area. They are joined by students from 35 different countries who live in dormitories on campus or in the homes of local families.

Senior Grace Farrington said her experience having dorm student Kelly Mutesi from Rwanda was very eye-opening. “Kelly was incredibly sweet and friendly, having her stay with my family during the thanksgiving break of my freshman year was an amazing experience.” According to Farrington, Mutesi was a very respectful house guest and really opened up to her and her family. “She would tell us all about Rwanda and her family, she was never shy and I think she worked harder to make me comfortable with her being around than vice versa.” Grace said when asked about how she felt Kelly fit in with her family during the vacation.
Mutesi has since graduated and gone back to Rwanda, but Farrington thinks of her whenever she hears about Rwanda on the news and appreciates having had the personal connection to a country she knew nothing about previously.

Dorm family The Roches enjoying their evening with alumni Anouk Schmidt ’16

Sophomore Vivi Reyes from Mexico is getting excited to share her first Thanksgiving this November. “For thanksgiving I’m going to stay at my friend, Gabby Belanger’s, house. I’m so excited because I feel like it’s a great experience. I’ve never had thanksgiving because we don’t celebrate it back home, therefore I’m thrilled to experience the typical American holiday.”
Reyes said, “I think it is an amazing opportunity that I can stay over for it because I’d love to get to know and understand all the American culture as it is different from mine in Mexico.”

Junior Alvaro Piergili from Spain shared how he feels about going, in other hand, back home for the holidays. “I’m going to Spain for the thanksgiving break, a big part of it is because I miss my parents and my sister a lot, I was used to see them almost all day every day.” Piergili then explains how he feels about the food. “I also miss the food, a lot! You know, I miss the jamon serrano; my cereals; the food in my house and basically everything. It’s very important for my life to eat that type of food.” (If you want to learn more about how international kids feel about the changes in their food go check out http://carpediemonline.org/international-students-affected-by-american-food/)

Ludovica Mattioli ’18 and Riccardo Picozzi ’18

Piergili shared after what he is going to miss from TA “But in other hand I do feel bad that I’m going to miss so many experiences during those one and a half or two weeks here. I also know that I’m going to miss my friends here and what we usually do everyday. Anyhow, I think it is worth to go to Spain to see and visit my awesome family.”

Senior Ludovica Mattioli from Italy shared how she is facing her future experience. “Mr. Rackmales invited me and our friend Senior Riccardo Piccozi to stay with him and his family over thanksgiving.” Mattioli shared emotionally what she thought in the moment. “I felt thrilled and really comfortable when he invited us because Mr. Rackmales was the first person I knew from Ta when I got here as he was the one that picked me up from the airport back in September. I think it is going to be a beautiful experience and I am sure that I will enjoy it, not just because I know the family is awesome but also because I’m not staying alone like many other people.”

Mattioli also said she thinks she feels bad for any of the people who are not going to stay because “it’s a really important experience because you can learn and understand something that maybe you don’t know how they live with.”

Mrs. Roche, Anouk Schmidt ’16 and Dasha Sabirova ’19

Dorm parent Mrs. Roche feels like the exchange is an important part of the experience for international students. “We haven’t had students really stay with us over Thanksgiving, but we’ve definitely had kids who shared Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving’s dinner with us and our family. We’ve done the same thing along other holidays, like Easter, each year we always bring some kids to celebrate Easter with us.” She said her family enjoys sharing traditions with students from around the world. 

She then shared “Since we do things differently than they do at home it’s always nice to have kids over for them to meet our family and to see how we interact within the family in the holidays. we like to talk with them about their holidays and what they usually do. I just think it’s a nice connection because they really appreciate the opportunity of being asked to join this tradition. We know some of them feel really special when asked and we feel good about offering and we’re always happy that kids are willing to experience it.”

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Educating students for more than 200 years.