International students and faculty from the College of Business at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln began a new tradition this year by sharing a meal and conversation over Thanksgiving break. Five faculty volunteers welcomed students into their homes, helping make the holiday a little warmer for students studying abroad in Nebraska.
Chandra Schwab, lecturer of international business, reached out to management professors and international business faculty fellows, inviting them to participate. With volunteers secured, she created a student sign-up sheet. Within two hours, 31 international students signed up and registration closed due to the number of students exceeding faculty capacity. Students who signed up received an email with tips on proper etiquette to follow and the name and contact information of their faculty dinner host.
The shared meals also allow faculty get to know those College of Business students better. Dr. Laurie A. Miller, associate professor of practice in economics, hosted two students.
“I went to college within driving distance of my parents. If I ever needed anything or got homesick, I could drive the two hours home. Our international students do not have that luxury so when I got the email asking if I wanted to host a few College of Business international students at my home for dinner, I decided to open my doors,” said Miller. “Our two guests, Linyi and Sumit, were amazing. My husband and I had such a great time learning about them and their families. We shared stories about our upbringing and compared similarities and differences about our cultures. One of the aspects of being an educator I am most thankful for is getting the opportunity to build relationships with my students. This dinner allowed us to create relationships with two students I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.”
Shaurya Sharma, a freshman finance and marketing major from Nishik, India, shared dinner with Dr. Dennis Duchon, chair of the Department of Management and E. J. Faulkner Professor of Management, and Dr. Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for academic affairs. Like others who participated, Sharma found the experience meaningful.
“It’s important to have a quality meal with your professors to personally know them,” Sharma said. “I felt really welcome in their home and I considered it a privilege. What I learned from this experience is the difference between my culture and America’s. Even though there are differences, the values are the same – spending quality time with family and being thankful.”
Schwab realized the need for connection due to her own experiences abroad in Europe and Asia. At times it could be difficult to find people willing to open their homes to her. However, in Asia, it was common to receive an invitation.
“Being welcomed into someone’s home or invited out to eat with them was a great feeling. I could see our own culture needed more of that essential opportunity for connection,” Schwab explained. “The students have such a short amount of time here, and for many, Nebraska will be the majority of their U.S. experience. We want them to remember something beyond academics since their stay here frames the view of us the students will take home with them.”
There will be another opportunity for both faculty and students to participate in the spring semester. Faculty and students interested can contact Chandra Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org