Students celebrate holidays differently

By Gus Bode

American and international students gathered Sunday at the Stone Center to share the ways they celebrate winter holidays.

University students from all over the world interacted with each other, shared their holiday traditions and participated in activities at the International Holiday Party, which was held by International Students and Scholars. Carla Coppi, director of International Programs and Services, said the party has been a tradition for 20 years.

She said the purpose of the party is to show international students some of America’s winter traditions, such as decorating gingerbread houses and Santa Claus visits, while also learning how other parts of the world celebrate.


Sana Haque, a graduate student in education from Pakistan, said Christmas is a holiday for her, but for different reasons than Christmas.

Twin brothers Devin and Kevin Lim, of Cambodia, watch their parents build a gingerbread house Sunday during the holiday celebration at the Stone Center. The celebration was held by International Students and Services and included a visit from Santa Claus, holiday food and crafts. Lynnette Oostmeyer | Daily Egyptian

“(Pakistan) is not a predominantly Christian country,” Haque said. “(Christmas) happens to be the birthday of the founder of our nation (Muhammad Ali Jinnah), so it’s a holiday for us anyway.”

Haque said having these two holidays on the same day allows Pakistanis who are Christian to have the day off so they can celebrate their own way.

Haque said she will celebrate the holidays with her family in New Jersey, where her sister is getting married. She said they will also check out some of the festivities in New York.

Flora Trujillo, a graduate student in business from France, said the ways French and American people celebrate the holidays are similar.

“We celebrate Christmas the same way here, with gifts and shopping and family gatherings,” she said.


Trujillo said she plans to go  home to France for the holidays to spend time with her family and go skiing in the Alps.

Sometimes students travel to escape the cold and visit places they’ve never been.

Qaiss Alokozai, a graduate student in economics from Afghanistan, said he and a few of his friends plan on travel to Miami during Christmas break. He said he is also going to spend some time in Orlando and celebrate New Year’s in New York City.

“Usually in Afghanistan, there is no specific plan,” Alokozai said. “People don’t usually make specific plans but they spend the holidays with their families.”

He said students have a winter break in Afghanistan, but adults work. Because the parents are working, he said they do not typically exchange gifts.

“People are concerned about their own living, and they don’t have time to think about holidays,” Alokozai said.

He said teenagers road trip with friends to different cities in Afghanistan during winter break.

Alokozai said teenagers sometimes travel to Dubai, Europe or America.