My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I just love the focus on making good food, sharing a meal with family (or friends, such as when I lived in San Diego), and reflecting on all the good things life has offered you in the past year. In a house almost entirely full of Americans, we were all a little sad to be celebrating far from home, so we decided to fill our day with special activities and sit down to a family dinner as a house.
The first activity we planned was more volunteering. Sure, we spend the entire work week donating our time and energy, and Thursday is usually our day off, but in honor of Thanksgiving, we decided to give more back to the community that had been hosting us for many months. Audrey, our women’s program manager, arranged a tree-planting and mural-painting morning with the mother of Eduardo, one of our most dedicated students. We handed out the trees to some of their neighbors, and then got started on the mural, designed by our art education intern, Amanda.
After we finished the mural, we headed back to Eduardo’s house for a nice snack of ocopa prepared by Eduardo’s mother and some of her neighbors. Then we went back to our house to start making our own Thanksgiving dinner. We’d asked our cook to prepare some of our favorite dishes: ensalada rusa without beets (lots of green veggies!), yuca frita, more ocopa, and black beans. I’d promised the volunteers that I’d make black bean burgers for Thanksgiving dinner, and I also made guacamole to dip the yucca in!
Just as we were all sitting down to dinner together, there was a knock at our door. It was the greatest surprise: four of the women we collaborate with in an afterschool program in Zone R brought us a card and a cake to celebrate our special holiday and to thank us for our hard work. It was incredibly touching that these women had remembered how important Thanksgiving was to Americans and helped us celebrate even more!
After dinner, we played Cranium together and shared a lot of laughs. Then we all split up to call home and I got to talk to my parents. All in all, it was a great way to celebrate, and we all appreciated the fact that we’d become a little family away from our own, coexisting and adapting to each other despite our differences.