Giving Thanks

By Tonya Duncan, Mountain States Regional Administrator


The word calls to mind images of family reunions, football games, and feasts.  When SHARE! exchange students and their host families sit at the table laden with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and all the trimmings, they are reenacting the meeting of the Native American Indians and the Pilgrims. The birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday was a special celebration of two very different cultures coming together, feasting to give thanks for the survival of the Pilgrims during their first year in a new and free land.  

Much like the first Thanksgiving, people are still coming together from very different cultures to celebrate.  We will be celebrating the coming together of American families and their exchange students who have traveled thousands of miles from a foreign country to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live with a family in America.  For our exchange students, it will be their first Thanksgiving, and for most, the only one they will ever partake in.    

In the spirit of SHAREing cultures and giving thanks, our coordinator, Tracy Barney, put together an International Thanksgiving dinner at Madison High School in Rexburg, Idaho with American host families and their students.  Students from Poland, Thailand, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, and more brought dishes native to their home countries to share with each other, resulting in a VERY unique and fun Thanksgiving dinner!

American host families and their exchange students have much to give thanks for and much to share with the world. 

We are thankful for this sweet girl and the happiness and energy she brings to our home! We love her.
— Alldredge family, hosting a Spanish student
I’m thankful for my awesome host family, for all my friends and family, for my nice neighbors, for everything that my host family gives and provides for me.
— German student staying with a host family in Utah
We are so grateful for the opportunity to have Chris in our home, hearts, and family. It was a seamless blend when he came. We are grateful he shares the same values we hold. We are so grateful to his family for sharing him with us and for raising such a gentleman. He’s a great example to my son.
— Host Mother of a Brazilian student
I am thankful for the opportunities we have while in America. Like the trip I went on, visiting Zion’s National Park, Las Vegas, and California with other exchange students.
— Rika, Germany

Participating in the SHARE! High school Exchange Program is cultural exchange at its very best- people to people and heart to heart.  After all, that is what Thanksgiving is all about!  Wishing you and your family a bountiful Thanksgiving, and to our students, a wonderful first Thanksgiving!