International students give their take on the history of Thanksgiving, its place in American culture – The Daily Barometer


Thanksgiving is approaching and although the holiday is popular in the United States, it is not celebrated internationally, so many international students at Oregon State University have unique opinions on its history.

In many school districts across the country, Thanksgiving is described as a day of peace when indigenous peoples and settlers threw a party to celebrate a harvest and rejoice in the coming year. Today the holiday is a day when families come together and is often the only dau each year when people see their loved ones.

However, the reality of the Thanksgiving story, which consists of the colonization and genocide of indigenous peoples, has led some international students to not support the holiday.

“Considering the history of the holiday, if you only put into perspective the history – which I believe is the main perspective of this holiday – it shouldn’t be celebrated,” said Zaid Al Attar, a major in chemical engineering from Iraq.

Alihan Baysal, a computer science graduate from Turkey, said he thought it would be wise to change the Thanksgiving holiday now.

“Knowing today that all Native Americans and Americans live together, they need to be more respectful,” Baysal said.

Al Attar, however, had never known the story of Thanksgiving. The same goes for Yonus Alalyani, an electrical and computer engineering student at OSU.

“What I know about Thanksgiving is that it takes place on the fourth Thursday in November every year,” Alalyani said. “People gather with their families around this time and they traditionally eat turkey, sweet potatoes, cornbread and mashed potatoes.”

For these students, Thanksgiving was often seen as religious holidays in their home country rather than Thanksgiving history.

“During Ramadan, we go to our elders and feast,” Baysal said. “All family members together, we only see certain families [members from] Ramadan to Ramadan [so] it brings the family closer together.

Many cultures outside of the United States have a statutory holiday, or several holidays, that relate to some kind of holiday, similar to the holidays held to celebrate Thanksgiving. The harvest – which is the season when crops are harvested from the fields – is culturally important around the world because it represents successful growth and food security.

According to Al Attar, people’s lack of understanding and desire to learn more about Thanksgiving history shows how dark the United States has become as it tries to ignore its roots and past. He said the nation must come to terms with the realities of its past.

“[The U.S.] try to erase history [of Thanksgiving]”said Al Attar.”[They] try to ignore the fact that this nation was built on savagery and came to life through slaughter. It was built on slavery, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

According to Al Attar, OSU is currently making no effort to teach Thanksgiving history to international students. He said he wanted more OSU students to know about Thanksgiving history and thinks OSU should do more to keep students more informed.

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