Hailing from countries as different as China, Colombia, Japan, Kuwait, and Mexico, hundreds of students came together last Friday in the University of Miami’s Allen Hall courtyard to celebrate and showcase the cuisine and customs of their respective lands, as UM’s Intensive English Program (IEP) held its 33rd International Thanksgiving—an event IEP executive director Michelle Alvarez says demonstrates that “by sharing we can bridge cultural divides.”
IEP students, many of them wearing the traditional dress of their homeland, served food that ranged from Chinese dumplings to Middle Eastern machboos (spiced chicken and rice). Some of them even sang, played musical instruments, and gave other cultural performances, including a martial arts demonstration by Kuwaiti students.
This year’s International Thanksgiving coincided with the IEP’s 65th anniversary. To mark the occasion, about 50 of the program’s alumni returned to the place where they learned valuable English-language and academic study skills that helped them to enter and succeed in a U.S. institution of higher learning.
“We’re the first step as they embark on their academic careers in this country,” Alvarez said of the IEP, which is run by UM’s Division of Continuing and International Education. “Just the fact that they (IEP alumni) were wiling to come back and assist currently enrolled students in setting up displays for this event shows their connection and love for the program.”