With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many people have been busy with shopping, food preparation and travel plans. But for 56 students enrolled in the Joint Co-op Institute (JCI), University of Cincinnati’s engineering partnership with Chongqing University, Thanksgiving is something completely new.
JCI brings more than 50 students a year from China to UC’s campus. The program, which started in 2013, allows students to study at Chongqing University for the first four years of their engineering degree before taking their final year at UC.
Earlier this year, UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) brought a familiar Chinese holiday, Lunar New Year, to UC to make JCI students feel more at home. On Nov. 19, the college wished to share an inherently American experience with the JCI students by hosting its first JCI Thanksgiving.
“The JCI team wanted the students to enjoy a traditional American holiday,” said CEAS special events coordinator Hannah Ko, one of the organizers of this event. “Since most of them do not have their families and relatives around, we wanted to provide that feel of home through a casual setting for them to mingle with their peers experiencing the same journey.”
JCI director and UC professor Tom Huston, PhD, kicked off the event by explaining the history of Thanksgiving and sharing common American traditions surrounding the holiday. CEAS Interim Dean Paul Orkwis, PhD, and Department Head of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Jay Kim, PhD, also spoke.
While Thanksgiving with its traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie might be new for many of these students, the holiday’s common themes can be shared by everyone, Orkwis said.
“We have this holiday for the purpose of being thankful, and we’re really thankful for having you here,” Orkwis said.
Huston also expressed gratitude for the students in the program and concluded his talk with everyone’s three favorite words to hear on Thanksgiving: Time to eat. Or, as they would say in Mandarin, “吃饭了(chī fàn le).”