Friends of Internationals, Florida State University
Friends of internationals, an arm of Baptist Campus Ministries in Tallahassee, annually uses Thanksgiving to introduce international students to the history and the hospitality of the American holiday.
For about 10 years FOI served a meal on Thanksgiving Day, but FOI Director Chris Craighead and BCM Director Lance Beauchamp decided in 2012 to move the meal to the Monday before the holiday. Attendance doubled, and other events were added on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
For the second year, a mission team of 35 Louisiana Tech University students and five sponsors from Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, La., traveled to Tallahassee to help in the effort. Craighead was a college intern at the church while a student. In the midst of a two-week quarter break, the Louisiana students spent five days interacting with FSU internationals—and preparing a Thanksgiving meal.
“It is kind of a flip-flop,” Craighead said. “I asked the Louisiana Tech students to come here to get the international students involved, and I’ve asked our international students to greet the visitors from Louisiana and make them feel welcome.”
The FOI events with the Louisiana students began Nov. 22 with a “Taste of Louisiana” lunch. For $4, students feasted on Louisiana specialties prepared by cook Glenda Robbins, who majored in home economics at Louisiana Tech, Craighead said.
Prior to the FSU-Idaho game Nov. 23, American and international students took turns teaching their favorite sports. European and Indian students instructed their American counterparts in playing cricket, and American students taught football plays and rules. The Garnet and Gold Guys, well-known in Tallahassee for attending FSU games in paint and glitter, were on hand for photos with the students.
More than 200 attended the Thanksgiving lunch Nov. 25. Students from around the world feasted on turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and banana pudding. A side of jamabalaya and vegetarian options completed the menu.
A history of American Thanksgiving was presented by leaders of InternatioNOLE, another campus organization of international students, and FOI leaders told what Christians believe about Thanksgiving. Casey Casady, college pastor of Temple Baptist, presented the Gospel.
Around the tables, questions from international students included “How does God bless you?” and “How does God know what you need?”
“Some we reached this week we would never be able to reach otherwise. I think it’s because of all the extra manpower,” Craighead said.
A large wall in the BCM building became the “Wall of Thanksgiving” on which students wrote things for which they are thankful. Since Craighead and his wife, Gaelin, could not travel to Louisiana for the holiday, he said they are very thankful “for people from home spending their holiday with us.”