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Archive for Monday, November 22, 2010

Lawrence couple offer warm welcome to international students during holidays

November 22, 2010

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Janet Huchingson and her husband John chat with Mohammad Alkuwari, a KU international student from Qatar. Huchingson has been participating in the Grimwood Thanksgiving program that hosts international students from KU since the 1950s.

Janet Huchingson and her husband John chat with Mohammad Alkuwari, a KU international student from Qatar. Huchingson has been participating in the Grimwood Thanksgiving program that hosts international students from KU since the 1950s.

Janet Huchingson picks through a wagon full of sweet potatoes from her garden to show to her husband John and Mohammad Alkuwari, center, a KU international student from Qatar on Friday, Nov. 19, 2010. Huchingson has been participating in the Grimwood Thanksgiving program that hosts international students from KU since the 1950s.

Janet Huchingson picks through a wagon full of sweet potatoes from her garden to show to her husband John and Mohammad Alkuwari, center, a KU international student from Qatar on Friday, Nov. 19, 2010. Huchingson has been participating in the Grimwood Thanksgiving program that hosts international students from KU since the 1950s.

Janet and John Huchingson don’t have much family in Lawrence.

Janet is a fourth-generation Lawrencian and recalls having big family Thanksgivings with many relatives in the past. And while only a few still live in the area, the Huchingsons have found a new way to fill the space around the table on turkey day.

“Now there’s only about six of us left, so we import our families,” Janet said.

She and her husband, John, host many international students from Kansas University during the Thanksgiving holidays, introducing students from places as far away as Saudi Arabia and Ghana to American holiday traditions.

This isn’t new for Janet. In 1954, when she was 13, her father received a letter from KU asking the family to host a Japanese graduate student, Shigeo Watanabe.

Forty-six years later, the Huchingsons participate in a number of programs that help international students, including the Betty Grimwood Thanksgiving Homestay Program. This year, they have three students assigned to them for Thanksgiving, but they always welcome more.

“We’ll take anybody and that’s who we want,” John said. “The more variety the better.”

The Huchingsons moved back to the Lawrence area when they retired in 2004, and that year they had students from China, Saudi Arabia and Germany at their dinner. Last year, Mohammad Alkuwari, a graduate student in education from Qatar, came to Thanksgiving dinner. He has stayed fast friends with the family.

“I think it’s cool to meet new people and have the American experience,” he said. “It’s not only meeting new people, but making a long-term friendship.”

Alkuwari will be joining the Huchingsons for Thanksgiving again this year, for which they will cook a traditional meal, only gluten-free and pork-free. Janet said they explain to their guests details about the foods — such as what stuffing is and how to put gravy on top of mashed potatoes.

The Huchingsons enjoy being around the students, sometimes for holiday meals that include as many as 20 students.

“We were both academics, so it’s been really good to keep in touch with students,” Janet said.

And they enjoy showing students what an American home is like, an experience that might not be available to the students otherwise. Some students enjoyed the couple so much that they kept in touch. The Huchingsons went to the wedding of one in Italy, and others who are still around town will come over for other meals. The Huchingsons have provided rides to the airport when some students travel.

“They are kind of just incorporated into the family,” Janet said.

Comments

superhans 4 years, 1 month ago

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Chrissy Neibarger 4 years, 1 month ago

What a nice heartwarming story!! If I had a home large enough I would love to do something like this!

bearded_gnome 4 years, 1 month ago

Fleeba, there are many other things you can do throughout the year. contact Joe Potts, international students and scholars services via ku.edu


far too many internationals do not get friendships going with americans while they are here!

it is incredibly tough for internationals to come here to study.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 1 month ago

Very cool story!
this is an example of how average people can literally change the world by what they choose to do.

besides this, people can help with activities for internationals all year. last I knew they had pot lucks, and other activities.

---btw, if you're reading and you are an international, I am very international-friendly. things I've done: simply help withEnglish, and with writing [effective writing/grammar/etc.].

Mohammad 4 years, 1 month ago

The Huchingsons are amazing couple, you need to meet them too :)

pizzapete 4 years, 1 month ago

What a great thing to do, this is what Thanksgiving should be all about.

Denny2009 4 years, 1 month ago

Great story. I remember when I went to KU and the holidays rolled around I was fortunate enough to have roommates invite me to their holiday celebrations with their families. It always made me feel great because I don't really have a lot of family. I hope someday I can do something similar to what the Huchingsons do and return the favor to those who find themselves without anywhere to go during the holiday season.

Shardwurm 4 years, 1 month ago

Awesome.

When I lived in Germany in the mid 80s we made Thanksgiving dinner for our German landlords. They really didn't like the pumpkin pie. lol.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 1 month ago

yes, I think people forget that the best way to be thankful at thanksgiving is to give to someone else.

here we have so much to be thankful for.

besides internationals, can we also look for ways to give to our ROTC students at the holidays?

when I was a kid, that means it was in the sixties, we lived in the greater L.A. area. a cousin was in the Navy stationed at Long Beach. Mom and Dad always made sure he came to thanksgiving and Christmas dinners along with at least one shipmate. the memories of these dinners are very special in my heart today.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 1 month ago

When I lived in Germany in the mid 80s we made Thanksgiving dinner for our German landlords. They really didn't like the pumpkin pie. lol.

LOL!

should'a given 'em sweet potato instead! lol.

not many americans really like the standard pumpkin pie, I think.

now if you up the seasonings, I kinda like it, but usualy pumpkin pie is too bland.

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