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Friendsgiving luncheon inspires joy one week after tragic events

Participants+from+all+different+walks+of+life+share+memories+and+what+they%27re+thankful+for.+Photo+credit%3A+Kevin+Sanders
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Friendsgiving luncheon inspires joy one week after tragic events

Participants from all different walks of life share memories and what they're thankful for. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Participants from all different walks of life share memories and what they're thankful for. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Participants from all different walks of life share memories and what they're thankful for. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Participants from all different walks of life share memories and what they're thankful for. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

By Ulises Koyoc

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Just one week after the devastating Borderline shooting and the wildfires, multiple groups at Moorpark College joined forces to host an annual Thanksgiving Luncheon. Students of diverse backgrounds and staff came together to share uplifting conversations and enjoy a delicious lunch.

The event was joyful and inspirational while light music played in the background and the smell of pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and turkey filled the air. The evening was full of lighthearted chatter and smiles as participants dined. Ice-breaker questions were provided at each table, so attendees had no problem conversing with one another.

Geared toward international students and veterans, one could see the diversity that populated each chair. Individuals from different parts of the world were present, each one eager to learn more about their new American society.

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A line of pumpkin pies ready to be eaten. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

International student, Haotse Weng, 29, shared some insight on whether Thanksgiving is celebrated in his native country of Taiwan. Weng expressed that in Taiwan, Thanksgiving is not celebrated much, but families are prompted to do so. Weng believes that it is necessary for international students to experience the American culture and hopes to share his experiences with his family back home.

“We need more events like these to meet new people and have fun,” Weng said. “Especially for international students who may be new to America.”

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International student, Haotse Weng, 22, shares his thoughts on Thanksgiving before eating. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Event organizers Maria Thayer and Kristen Robinson, originally believed that it might have been better to cancel the luncheon, due to recent tragedies within the community. The aftermath of these events have left many people deeply saddened and struggling to cope. However, it was decided that a space for people to relax and meet new friends would be beneficial.

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Maria Thayer (right) and Kristen Robinson (left) started the Friendsgiving event with small, but motivating, speeches on why it is important to be thankful.

Jeremiah Cration, 22, was impacted by both the Borderline shooting and the Woolsey Fire. Cration had dropped off one of his friends at Borderline on the evening of the shooting. He received a phone call later that night, from his friend, asking to be picked up. Thinking back Cration explains that his friend was safe, but badly shaken up. A few days later, Cration was forced to evacuate his home, due to the Woolsey Fire. He deeply appreciated the luncheon and explained that it helped to give him some peace of mind.

“Free food is always good,” Cration said. “But I really admire coming together after all these sad times.”

Dean of Counseling, Howard Davis, expressed his opinion on why the event was necessary, not only for international students and veterans, but also to provide a safe space for all of those going through a tough time.

“This is a really good event for international students to get a taste of American culture and to get a sense of community here at Moorpark College,” Davis said. “But I also think that this event is even more important now to provide comfort to those who need it.”

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Dean of counseling, Howard Davis, was thrilled with the number of participants that showed up to the event.

After some time spent eating and mingling, hosts opened the room up for guests to give feedback about the event. One international student said that she liked the idea of coming together, and the opportunity to say what she is thankful for, something she had never done before.

Another individual shared how growing up in a Mexican family Thanksgiving was not celebrated. One day she told her mother about the holiday, and little by little, they started celebrating Thanksgiving, while also incorporating their Mexican-style foods.

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“Thank You” cards were passed around to those who wished to express their gratitude to school staff or loved ones. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

At the end of the event, guests had the option to write a thank you note of appreciation to staff members and loved ones. Cards were provided and would be delivered by event hosts on campus or could be taken home to be delivered by the guest themselves.

In such sad times, it can be inspiring to see people come together to share their experiences and simply have fun. Nenagh Brown, a history professor and former international student, summed up what Thanksgiving is all about.

“The true meaning of Thanksgiving,” said Brown, “is just being able to sit with each other and get to know a few more perspectives in our common world.”

 

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