A celebration under one roof
By: Crystal Abrell
Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, people from countries including Taiwan, Japan, Israel, Serbia, Spain, Yugoslavia join together to learn about and experience Thanksgiving.
Every year, Dr. David Wantz, associate vice president for community relations at the University of Indianapolis, hosts an annual Thanksgiving dinner to welcome those from other countries who have no place to go for the holiday.
The annual Thanksgiving dinner began ten years ago when Wantz’s wife, Susan Fleck, and Dr. Paul Krasnovsky, a professor at Franklin College and associate professor of music at UIndy, knew faculty members who had no place to go on Thanksgiving. Wantz, along with Fleck and Krasnovsky decided to invite these people to their homes.
“We all had friends who had no place to go on Thanksgiving, so we decided to invite these folks who, number one, don’t know anything about Thanksgiving and number two, had no place to go, to our homes,” Wantz said.
Rakic Svetlana, a guest who teaches at Franklin College, always brings his traditional cakes and baked goods to the dinner. Musicians who attend this dinner from Serbia always play their instruments after dinner.
“The activities and dinner are something completely new to us. I enjoy meeting new friends and gaining relationships with others from all various walks of life,” Svetlana said.
At the beginning of dinner after everyone arrives, they join in a circle to announce individually where they are from and how they became familiar with the American Thanksgiving feast.
“It is incredible to just sit back and listen to all the different languages being discussed in the same room,” Wantz said. “It’s magnificent.”
A wide assortment of foods is prepared for the feast, besides the traditional turkey or ham. Everyone who attends the dinner chips in a dish of choice to add to the diverse mixture of foods.
According to Wantz, around 30 individuals join together to familiarize with the American Thanksgiving culture.
“To the families, it is a gateway to the American culture. We are so appreciative of the American openness and friendliness. Before moving to America, we had no idea how welcoming American culture really was,” Svetlana said. “Having an opportunity to experience what Thanksgiving was really about gave us a true understanding of the American way.”
According to Wantz, the idea of inviting these people into their home was not a heroic act but a noble thought.
“We just wanted to welcome these wonderful people into our home,” he said, “and show them what American culture is all about.”