By Nina Villano
It is traditional in the United States to gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving to have a large meal to celebrate what we are grateful for. This pandemic has given Thanksgiving new meaning for some of us and a different sense of gratitude for others.
I have been blessed to work with a diverse group of people at UMSL Global and asked some of them what they are be thankful for in 2020. The responses are fabulous and I think you will like them too. Here is what they had to say:
Dijana Menkovic, International Student Advisor
I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small, heart-shaped (think of a real human heart, not the shape) country in southeast Europe. The UMSL campus reminds me of my hometown in Bosnia during the Thanksgiving season because it resembles the feeling of a close-knit community. Although my country does not celebrate Thanksgiving, we still prioritize friendliness, gratefulness, and family. The UMSL campus truly provides our students, faculty, and staff the same reality during the holiday season. The UMSL community is supportive, inclusive and strives to instill success through strong ties throughout the St. Louis region.
The COVID situation that we have been facing as not only a country, but as members of the UMSL Global team, has made me thankful for the great relationships with my colleagues. We have managed to be supportive and thoughtful towards each other during these trying times and the teamwork amongst us.
I am thankful for the genuine connections I make daily! From getting to know my co-workers at UMSL over the past year to speaking to prospective UMSL applicants, I have been able to build connections and rapport with people from all walks of life (all over the world). These diverse connections have shaped my views as a student, which allows me to bring new perspectives into my coursework and classroom. I can share my cherished experiences with classmates, colleagues, and family members creating more conversation and connectedness.
Cassidy Thompson (and Garrett), Education Abroad
I am from St. Louis so UMSL and St. Louis are home to me. I think something that reminds me a lot of home here at UMSL is everyone’s willingness to help and go the extra mile during these hard times. I grew up in a family where you always offered to help if you saw someone in need and that attitude has certainly been a hallmark around UMSL this year.
I do not know if it makes me more thankful, but I think many of us are thankful in a different way this year. I think a lot of us have had to slow down and we are more thankful for the little things. At night before my two-year-old goes to bed, we talk about what we were thankful for during the day and sometimes it is something as simple as pumpkins or sliding boards. I think this year it is about remembering these daily little blessings; focusing on what we have instead of what we may be missing out on.
My Dad is 1 of 6 brothers, normally we would all get together to celebrate Thanksgiving at my uncle’s cake shop and where there would be a table set for 40 to 50 of us the weekend before Thanksgiving. It is so much fun getting to see everyone; for some of us it is the only time of the year we get together. This year we are not meeting due to COVID 19 and we are all very disappointed. While we have not been totally unaffected by the pandemic, I am so thankful that in a family of our size we are all still here and hope that Thanksgiving 2021 will be that much more special.
Lixing Li, Campus Support Advisor
My name is Lixing. I am from Guangzhou, China. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in my country, but we celebrate similar culture as being grateful to other people, our life and environment. Something at UMSL reminds me of my hometown is the beautiful campus and diverse environment, Flowers and green are everywhere here that makes me think of my hometown as “Flower City” in China. Diversity here is typical with people from different background, from different countries, speaking different languages and dialects.
I am thankful for working at UMSL Global, such a warm family. During a pandemic period when everyone is working remotely, we have more communication virtually. Being not able to meet each other is not an obstacle. Many online events made lots of us more connected and learn more about each other. I also found I am more connected with students and I am grateful that they trust me a lot to share their feelings and concerns.
Andres Pedraza, International Admissions Officer
I am from Bogota, Columbia. We do not celebrate Thanksgiving there, this is more an American holiday, but going to the Tower Grove area, etc., makes me remember my neighborhood back home, the colors, the city vibes, and the parks around neighborhoods.
I am thankful for being surrounded by nice people, but also to have the chance to help students from around the world. It is always good to remember having a job during this tough time, is a blessing.