What does Thanksgiving mean to U?

By analyzing responses for word frequency (and filtering for "filler" words such as "the" or "a"), we created a word cloud that represents the most popular words Miami uses to discuss Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Grace Wehniainen
By analyzing responses for word frequency (and filtering for "filler" words such as "the" or "a"), we created a word cloud that represents the most popular words Miami uses to discuss Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Grace Wehniainen

To many, Thanksgiving is a time where one can just sit down with his or her family and loved ones, eat a nice meal, and watch some football. But as a first generation American, I find it very important to keep in touch with my roots and incorporate aspects of my Indian culture in this traditional holiday. So along with my turkey and stuffing, I am thankful to have classic Indian food and drinks to make sure my customs remain alive. – Rohan Dureja, a freshman majoring in chemistry

My mom is a woman of tradition. I always feel an immense amount of gratitude waking up on Thursday morning and finding her in the kitchen, preparing food for the day. An array of pots and pans are spread out on the kitchen table. The house fills with the aroma of fresh herbs my mom uses to roast the turkey. Before even tasting it, I’m already salivating at the sight of her sweet potato casserole, glistening with crystalized brown sugar on top. Despite life changing so quickly around us, it’s comforting to know that some things stay constant. – Kerstin Yu, a senior majoring in biology

Thanksgiving has an atypical meaning for me because it is not something we celebrate back home in France. However, this celebration still has some sort of significance to me. It reminds me of when I was young dreaming about the American traditions and customs where families would gather up and enjoy a divine meal together. This tradition seems to be cherished by all American families. It is a moment where members can share precious moments in the greatest privacy. This year I will have the honor to celebrate Thanksgiving at my friend’s house. – Marilou Chardin, a freshman majoring in international finance and marketing

To some people, Thanksgiving is a time when the leaves have finally changed from an earthy green to shades of red, yellow and orange. To some people, Thanksgiving is a time where the warm summer air turns into a crisp, cool breeze. To some people, Thanksgiving is a time when calories don’t count, especially if there’s mac n’ cheese, stuffing and apple pie. In my eyes, Thanksgiving is a time where I reflect on how blessed I am to have health, love and support from those who matter most. – Michelle Marino, a junior majoring in public relations and electronic media

When I first moved to the United States in 2013, one of my biggest fears was to find a group of friends that I would get along with. I was 13 years old coming from Angola and moving to a private high school where students already had made their cliques in middle school. I noticed people were not as open as they were in my hometown. But that fear went away when I met one of my best friends in the whole world—Farhan Shaban. “I was so scared of you when I first met you,” he said a couple of years after we met. There was never a moment that he judged me about the fact that I was an international student, and to this day, that is something that makes me happy.

Our friendship flourished when we first noticed we both loved “Vampire Diaries.” After that we started video chatting every day that we even came up with a name for it, “DFT,” Daily FaceTime. We would do our homework together, watch shows together, laugh at random memes and stay on FaceTime even if we were not talking. Shaban left my high school after our sophomore year and I thought we would no longer be as close as we used to, but that did not happen. In fact, it brought us closer. We would always try to hang out during the weekends but if it didn’t happen, Farhan would always try and hang out with me before I had theater rehearsal. Our friendship cannot be described. It’s one of those that you just have to see to understand. Shaban and I FaceTime every day and always plan our life around each other. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know how I would have survived moving to the States. I am grateful this Thanksgiving and every day for his friendship. – Naomy Lelis, a sophomore majoring media management

November brings history into to my writing classes, as we try to understand ourselves as beings created by the stories we tell about ourselves. So we dive into Charles C. Mann’s “1491,” which challenges the (his)story we tell about Thanksgiving. The experience always brings equal parts sorrow, hope, and gratitude: sorrow for vast continents of culture, knowledge, and wisdom lost with the devastation of indigenous peoples; hope for deeper understanding and recovery; and the gratitude that I am here with my amazing students, sharing these discussions, sharing a life of curiosity and a love for truth and knowledge. – Martha Otis, senior lecturer, English

Immigration was a divisive topic in the 2018 election. So I’m giving thanks to my immigrant ancestors whose perilous voyage to America made my life here possible. I firstly thank my four Pilgrim ancestors who came on the Mayflower in 1621 and lastly my Jewish great-grandparents who fled Poland in 1890. May we welcome new immigrants today with open arms and thank them for their many contributions to our country. – Professor Duba Leibell, assistant professor of professional practice, screenwriting

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is watching my family from all sides gather around my aunt Deirdre’s dining room table. Despite how hectic the past year may have been—the challenges or joys we have endured—this family dinner is a time where we are brought together by a plethora of food. My family’s Thanksgiving tradition is creating a hodgepodge spread, and every member contributes the same dish every year. My aunt masters the turkey, my dad chars his famous brussels sprouts, and my uncle whips the mashed potatoes. In the end, I am able to enjoy my food knowing every family member is represented on my plate. And it is this tradition that brings my large, loud, family together. – Isabel Tragos

In my household, my grandmothers always came over bright and early to get the meals prepared on Thanksgiving morning. They passively fought over who was cooking what. They were both good cooks, but people got tired of doubling up on everything, so we let them work out what they wanted to make. I swear, for most Thanksgivings all I remember is having to tell both grandmothers that I loved their stuffing, but deep down knew I was lying to one of them. – Kyle Przypek, a sophomore majoring in advertising

Growing up, every Thanksgiving, my older sister would gather our cousins together and put on a play of the first Thanksgiving. My sister would write a script, name herself director and cast the entire show. We would practice all day, rehearing lines and staging the movements. All my cousins would dress up in costume, and after dinner, we would reenact the scene. The adults would gather in the kitchen to get the best view of the performance. I will never forget how the applause of the audience filled us will pride and joy. – Caprina Smith, a freshman majoring in creative advertising

Cooking with my grandma is a priceless moment that I look forward to every fall. Having a passion for cooking and baking, I always enjoy going to her house every year to help prepare Thanksgiving dinner. The food we cook is not your stereotypical dinner with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. We also have shrimp scampi, chicken and salad. For dessert, we bake cheesecake along with pumpkin and apple pie. A favorite family tradition of mine is decorating the pie crust with leaves and the colors of Thanksgiving. Receiving compliments on the food and watching my family enjoy it puts a smile on my face. – Isabella Freedberg, a freshman majoring in public relations

Thanksgiving is a holiday that we always spend with our first cousins and grandparents. It is particularly special because despite everyone’s busy schedules, it is something that will never be canceled. Three out of the four kids in our family are now in college, so this year it will especially meaningful. My family lives close to each other: My grandma is just around the corner, and my cousins are 45 minutes away down the Parkway. Playing basketball outside with in the fresh fall breeze or looking through photo albums are memories of my family that are irreplaceable. – Olivia Tanchel, a freshman majoring in public relations

To me, Thanksgiving is a time for family. It is the one time of year when all of my family flies in from all over the country to eat a wonderful meal and spend quality time together. Being away at college makes Thanksgiving just that much more special because it’s a reunion with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family. It becomes a potluck where each family member brings a different appetizer, dish, side or dessert, and we all come together to eat extensive amounts of delicious foods and enjoy each other’s company. – Alexandra Naessan-Do, a sophomore majoring in motion pictures and creative advertising

Thanksgiving is a special holiday celebrated in America where families and friends gather and give thanks for the many blessing they have while sharing food. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I get to spend time with my family and for me, this is very important. Recently, I just moved to Miami, and I thought I would not be able to go home and share Thanksgiving with my family, but fortunately, I will be able to go back home. I am very grateful for getting the opportunity to travel back home and enjoy time back home. – Pamela Richter, a freshman majoring in advertising

Thanksgiving, to me, means quality time shared with friends and family. It is the time of year that everyone looks forward to due to the fantastic food and everlasting memories. We all gather around the dining room table and feast over a wide variety of different dishes, my favorite being the carrot soufflé. Every year, I watch from start to finish the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my entire extended family. We drink my mom’s homemade apple cider and for that, I am forever thankful. – Kate Rainerman, a sophomore majoring in public relations

Thanksgiving can be summed up in one word: appreciative. On Thanksgiving morning, I drive to the Bronx to help the Paganelli family run an annual Thanksgiving dinner for those in need. I prepare roasted chicken, wipe down banquet tables, and empty trash. When breaking apart the greasy chicken bones, my mind usually drifts, slightly out of queasiness, but mostly out of fulfillment as the people in the gymnasium are grateful on this typically cold fall afternoon. Each year, I think about the word empathy and how it goes farther than generosity and focuses on understanding where another person comes from. – Tyler Cavataro, a sophomore

Thanksgiving means a lot. Thanksgiving is about being with your close friends and family. For my family, we like to be at one of our homes, enjoying everyone’s company. Also, watching the Thanksgiving football games on TV. Another thing is the food. Thanksgiving food is some of the best food I’ve had because my family does a really good job cooking it. My mom makes the best turkey and stuffing ever! The most important thing to me is to talk about what my family and I are thankful for in our life. – Alex Bitchatchi, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism

My dad always was there for me, supporting my dreams. When I was 12 years old, I told him that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster and he said, “Okay let’s make it happen.” My mom was leery about me attending the University of Miami, but my dad saw how much I loved the school and the athletic program. Because of him, I’m pursuing my passion and I am involved with all forms of sports media as a University of Miami student. – Maxwell Trink, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism

The 30-minute commute down Woodward Avenue. Cruising into the suburbs every morning on my way to middle school. Sitting quiet as soft R&B played while I rolled down the windows and took in the world and its breeze around me. My grandma was a storyteller. Every morning she pushed her gold Cadillac swiftly down the busy street. Midway through our ride she would turn down the music slightly, just enough for her raspy voice to boom over the stereo. Directing her words to my side of the car she’d share a new story with me. Stories about how she started her day with a cup of black coffee, no sugar light cream. Stories about the sermon she gave that past Sunday in church. Even stories about what was happening in the city news. I sat silent in the car listening but looking out of the window at the various storefronts we would pass by, something I did every morning, I enjoyed not speaking. One day my grandma broke the silence. She started to ask me questions.

“Talk to me, baby. We don’t sit in silence in this car. Talk to me about anything.” What was my story?

From that day on we took turns telling stories. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, her. Tuesday and Thursday, me. I shared how much I loved my writing class, and how I aced most of my papers. I told her how I planned to run for student council and had to write my own speech. I revealed to her that I joined the school’s newspaper. I broke my silence, became my own storyteller, and never looked back. – Morgan Threatt, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism

She’s a mother, wife, lead vocalist and so much more. Jessica Glenn is the prime example of a superwomen who empowers and inspire women all around her, which is why she is a special person who I’m thankful for.

Glenn holds a very challenging position at one of the most world-renowned churches in in South Florida, King Jesus Ministry, as a vocal director.

Glenn has always made sure that I am treated fairly, and equally as a member of a predominantly contemporary worship team despite being a gospel/hip-hop recording artist. Not to mention she pushes and believes in me, my music and most importantly my calling in life.

I am where I am today because of this phenomenal woman and will forever be grateful for her. – Aline Virtue, a senior majoring in journalism

When she wasn’t present in my daily life, I finally realized how much of an impact my mom has had on me.

Before I left for college, I used to count down the days until I was finally on my own, without my mom nagging me or telling me to do my chores; but when the time came around to say goodbye, something felt off. I no longer was able to have my mom there to cook me food, give me advice, and comfort me when I was stressed. It sunk in that I had to take in all of the things she taught me in order to become an independent adult and use it to take care of myself. I once said I’d never call her while I was at school, but on that first night of college, it was her contact that I clicked on to call, which ended up being a nightly affair. Freshman year was extremely difficult being about 1,300 miles away from her but what helped me cope with her not being there was realizing all of the valuable things she had taught me over the years to prepare for a time like this.

I finally realized why when I used to ask her how to do things she’d tell me to figure it out; or when I asked her to make appointments for me she’d tell me to do it myself. I now realize after my friends ask me how to do laundry or why dish soap shouldn’t go into the dishwasher that she was in fact a blessing in my life, and not an annoyance. There is nothing in this world big enough for me to give my mom to thank her for the independence she has instilled in me. – Alexis Duhaney, a sophomore majoring in sports administration

I remember very clearly the moment I told my mom that I didn’t want to follow in my parents’ shoes and become an attorney. I sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., crying as I spoke with her on the phone. I had to explain that an entire semester devoted to psychology, my then-major, was down the drain because I didn’t care much for it. I knew in my gut that I didn’t want to be a lawyer—I wanted to be a journalist. My mother, who was persuaded to go to law school by an old boyfriend she thought might soon become husband (and didn’t), was calm at the other end of the line. “Do exactly what you want to,” she said. “Because I didn’t allow myself to.” – Emma Erickson-Kery, a senior majoring in journalism

I found a passion for broadcast journalism during my time at Christopher Columbus High School. Omar Delgado, the moderator of my high school publication, was both my greatest critic and my most valuable mentor. He always forced me into uncomfortable situations, but these experiences helped me grow as a journalist.

Delgado always knew how to get the best out of me and his words of wisdom continue to guide me.

“No journalist goes through their career without a few bumps in the road, the only person who will ever place limits on you is yourself.” – Danyel De Villiers, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism

Thanksgiving is a time of year that is unlike any other. It brings family and friends together and makes us think about what we are grateful for. It is a time to bond and catch up with those whom we haven’t seen for a long time. In my hometown, Foxboro, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving is also an important day for the community. Everyone gathers at the local football field to watch our high school team play our rivals from the neighboring town. Even though our team rarely wins, it is about seeing old friends, old teachers, and making memories. – Nathan Dumont, a freshman majoring in political science

I am thankful for my health, and the fact I have the ability to get out of bed every day. I am blessed to have full functioning of my body and be able to walk, to run and to live my everyday life. I am thankful for my teachers being role models to me and preparing me with the habits needed for college. I am thankful for my family: funding my education, always having food in the fridge and always being a solid support system. – Haley Abio, a freshman majoring in nursing

I am very thankful for a lot, but most of all for my loving family and wonderful friends. I am very fortunate that we are all very close, this makes me happy. It has been a long year, so knowing that everyone is happy and healthy is something to be especially appreciative for. These special people are the best gift of all. – Delaney Edwards, a sophomore majoring in public relations

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This festival is an ancient festival created by the American people. It is also the day when Americans gather together. I was influenced by the festive atmosphere around me, so I also made some plans for it. I hope that I can have a different Thanksgiving this year. A few days ago, I received an email from the school, which was a Thanksgiving event for international students. This event gave international students the opportunity to spend time and learn about this traditional American holiday with a host family. Since I am from China, I am very excited to hear this news, because it is a rare opportunity for me and an unforgettable experience. Thanksgiving is getting closer and closer, and I am more and more looking forward to meeting with host families and spending Thanksgiving with them. – Jiarui He, a sophomore majoring in media management

Last year, November 2017, I spent my first Thanksgiving in the United States with my best friend, Xiuli Gwen. Her family invited me to enjoy a gorgeous Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Redding, Connecticut. Gwen lives in a “Snow White” fairy tale area that is surrounded by abig forest. Gwen’s father prepared a big turkey and some vegetables dishes. At dusk, every member sat down to eat and share their good experiences about the year. Thanksgiving reminds me of the Chinese spring festival. Both represent reunion and happiness. – Jiahao Fu, a junior majoring in media management

“Thank you,” voiced two of my first-year students, on their way out of our ENG 105: “Writing as Innovation” themed class at Dooly Memorial. Listening to these two simple words, I felt humbled by students’ gratitude for a regular teaching day. A peaceful silence, and the faces of two “U” women leaders who encouraged me to teach, Gina and Adina, came to mind… the ripple effect of the encouragement of our mentors, the joy of developing students into innovative thinkers, and the freedom we have here at U to lead and innovate, which I do not take for granted. – Larissa Ramos, lecturer, English composition

I am thankful for the opportunities I am given every day. I am incredibly grateful to live in a country where I am free to make choices on my own without anyone else having a say. I have control over my education and my life, and I am able to do whatever I wish with them. I am thankful that I can express myself and do the things that make me happy on a daily basis. All of these things are often overlooked and taken for granted in our country, but it is what I am thankful for the most. – Ben Kunz, a freshman majoring in economics and finance

In my household growing up, my mom going out of town was equivalent to the end of the world. She was honestly the glue that held everything together. It was rare for her to travel, but when she did it made me notice just how important the simplest things were. Having someone to do my hair in the mornings and make me snacks after school were things I’d usually take for granted, but with her gone, I realized those small things she does for not only me, but my two other siblings and my dad as well, are what kept everything functioning. – Iris Maryland, a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism