UTEP Plans Holiday Meal for International Students

An estimated 400 participants, including UTEP students from different states and numerous foreign countries, are among those expected to attend The University of Texas at El Paso’s 3rd annual Thanksgiving Without Borders.

The free event, which is open to campus staff, faculty, students and their families, is designed for international students and others who may not have the opportunity to return home for the holidays. It will include a traditional Thanksgiving meal and family-friendly music and activities such as a Thanksgiving-themed loteria and trivia.

UTEP volunteers will greet people as they enter the decorated hall and encourage them to share reasons to be grateful on the Wall of Thanks. Table captains will encourage participants to share traditions from the represented countries that could include Brazil, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, the Czech Republic and Puerto Rico.

Members of the Franklin High School football team also will volunteer at this event.

Reem Issa, a senior mechanical engineering major, said she plans to attend the Wednesday event with some fellow Miners from India, Syria and Mexico. She encouraged all international students to attend because it is an opportunity to learn about different cultures.

Issa, president of UTEP’s Arab Student Association, said there was no similar celebration in her native Palestine, but she appreciated the celebration that brings people together.

She recalled the fun she had at the first Thanksgiving Without Borders in 2014 at Miner Village. She said it was where she learned about the story of the pilgrims celebrating with the Native Americans and where she tried her first cranberry sauce.

“The best part about this event is its inclusiveness,” said Elisa Espinosa-Ortega, assistant director for administration in UTEP’s Department of Residence Life and one of the activity’s lead organizers. “It brings locals together with international students and gives them an opportunity to share how each celebrates similar traditions at home.”

There will be two seatings – 6 and 7:30 p.m. – and both will conclude with a raffle for Thanksgiving baskets filled with food, sweets and Thanksgiving decorations.

This event was organized by UTEP’s Department of Residence Life, Office of International Programs and the Baptist Student Ministry.

What: Thanksgiving Without Borders

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23

Where: Baptist Student Ministry building, 101 E. University Ave.