The First Thanksgiving

by Yvette Coffman, Southwest Regional Administrator

Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday.  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 coming together of two very different cultures-the Native American Indians and the Pilgrims- for a 3-day event in the fall of 1621. The birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday was a special celebration of prayer and feasting to give thanks for the survival of the Pilgrims during their first year in a new and free land.  

Now, years later, 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, perhaps the only one they will ever partake in.  Participating in the SHARE! High School Exchange Program is cultural exchange at its very best- people to people and heart to heart.  Americans today, like the Pilgrims long ago, have much to give thanks for and much to share with the world.  

Wishing you and your family a bountiful Thanksgiving and to our students, a wonderful first Thanksgiving!