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Giving Thanks

President Valerie Smith leads walkers during the Turkey Trot


Thirty members of the College community gathered at the stadium track under sunny skies Monday for Swarthmore’s First Annual Turkey Trot — a healthful twist on the College’s annual Thanksgiving festivities.

Led by President Valerie Smith, the group of staff members (including Izzy the therapy dog from Student Health and Wellness), faculty, and a few retirees chatted with one another through the 1.5-mile walk. The event included music to pump the group up and ended with the raffling off of prizes.

More importantly, though, participants brought close to 200 pounds of non-perishable items that will support local families through the Media Food Bank.

“We were blown away by everyone’s generosity,” says Max Miller, assistant director of athletics for recreation & wellness, who co-managed the Turkey Trot with Terri Maguire, human resources manager.  

Among other Thanksgiving-related highlights on campus was the annual dinner held by the Swarthmore African-American Student Society (SASS) at the Black Cultural Center (BCC) on Sunday. Organized and executed by SASS with a hand from Dion Lewis, dean of the junior class and director of the BCC, the event brought around 100 people together for food and fellowship.

Jennifer Marks-GoldAmong the efforts of Director of International Student Services Jennifer Marks-Gold is finding local families to host international students who cannot make it back home over the holidays.

This year's highlights included the turkey cooked by Gina Goosby ’20, of Memphis, Tenn., and the eagerness of attendees to help serve the food and clean up, says SASS social director Joy George ’20, of Bronx, N.Y.

“It’s nice to facilitate a space where people can engage with one another and eat good on a Sunday night,” she says, “interacting with each other in a really genuine way.”

Earlier in the day was the annual Thanksgiving lunch celebration that Public Safety and the Office of Student Engagement hold for resident assistants and diversity peer advisors. Attendees enjoyed traditional holiday fare as well as a game of Quizzo once again emceed by Nathan Miller, associate dean of students.

“It’s a time to celebrate the holiday and get to know each other better,” says Director of Public Safety Mike Hill.

Last Thursday, the Interfaith Center continued its series “Big Questions over Dinner” with a focus on gratitude. Over a meal from nearby restaurant Aria, 12 students gathered in Bond Hall to consider the practice of gratitude in different cultures and religious traditions and ponder questions such as “For what are you grateful?” and “Are there practices that help you focus more on blessings and gratitude in times of challenge,” says Joyce Tompkins, director of religious and spiritual life.

And the festivities continue, as three local families have offered to host international students for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Nine students hailing from Thailand, India, Zambia, New Zealand, and Canada signed up, says Jennifer Marks-Gold, director of international student services.

“Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing in Zambia,” says Temba Mateke ’21. “I’m interested in learning about this tradition, although I’m really just in it for some good home-cooked food.”

Nancy Yuan ’20, whose family is in New Zealand, will attend one of the dinners as well as a lunch with Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Paddon Rhoads and her family.

“Experiences like this are what make Swat special,” says Yuan, who last Thanksgiving shared a meal with Doug Leonard ’19, of Maple Glen, Pa., and his family. “I’m thankful that my professors are so accessible and willing to build connections with students."

Watch: BCC Thanksgiving 2017

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