Local families open their homes to international students on Thanksgiving

November 29, 2013

Video story by Paola Chavez
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, Va. — Rashwan Almshaal, a graduate engineering student at VCU, is an international student who has been in the U.S. for three months. This will be Almshaal’s first American Thanksgiving, and he’ll be spending it with a host family.

“I do not know a lot about Thanksgiving, but as I heard from my friends there will be food or something like this. I don’t want to ask a lot about that because I want to discover that myself in the American’s house,” Almshaal said.

Almshaal and other international students are invited to celebrate the holiday with host families through VCU’s Global Education program. The program found that more than 75 percent of international students never enter American homes during their stay.

The Hudgens family will be hosting Almshaal on Thanksgiving, and have opened their home to international students for the last 14 years. Don Hudgens said the experience allows international students to understand American culture and to develop friendships.

“They call us-we call them, e-mail, the chain is never broken- we might not see them for three or four months and it’s just like most of them feel pretty comfortable- so it’s like family,” Hudgens said.