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PEG Environmental Group Thanksgiving

While most Penn students are packing their bags and boarding trains or planes, some are staying on campus for Thanksgiving break.

Since some students do not celebrate the holiday or cannot go home, the International House of Philadelphia, for example, hosts events for residents, including a Thanksgiving meal, and coordinates a host program where students can stay at a neighboring family’s home.

The IHP, located at 37th and Chestnut streets, houses students from Penn as well as other schools from over 95 countries.

IHP’s feast has proven “popular because it allows our residents to experience a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of their home with their fellow International House Residents,” IHP Residents Programs and Service Manager Deborah Houda said.

This Thanksgiving tradition has existed for over 20 years, according to Houda. However, she said it is not offered to all students at Penn — only the 1,000 or so Penn indergraduate, graduate and Drexel students that reside at IHP.

Some got into the Thanksgiving spirit earlier this week. Student groups and certain college houses host dinners over the break. Having them earlier in the week allows students going home to also attend, while Thursday dinners afford those staying on campus a celebration away from home.

The Kelly Writers House, Greek InterVarsity and the Penn Environmental Group are other organizations that celebrated Thanksgiving at the beginning of this week.

The Kelly Writers House put on its annual potluck meal for members of its planning committee — the HUB — on Monday.

“We know a lot of people can’t necessarily go home for Thanksgiving,” KWH Director Jessica Lowenthal said, adding that having the meal on Monday allows even those who are spending Thanksgiving with their families to attend.

“The Writers House is one of the best communities,” College senior Trisha Low said. “It’s nice to get together with everyone for the holidays.”

Others who live far away from Philadelphia spend the long weekend at a friend’s house.

Julie Xu, an Engineering sophomore from British Columbia, called herself “lucky” to have roommates who took her home for the holiday last year and will again for this upcoming break.

Xu noticed that as a sophomore, many more students chose to stay on campus due to an increase in work. “It would be nice for Penn to have more events for students staying here,” she added.

College senior Andrew Choi, from Atlanta decided to remain on campus because of cost, as he did not look into purchasing plane tickets early enough. His roommates are also staying at Penn, and Choi said they’ve decided to stick together, cook a holiday meal and “maybe go to New York for the day.”

Since students still on campus have likely made plans, Choi doesn’t think Penn needs to add more activities during the holiday weekend.

Ultimately, even students who could not travel home for the holiday have founds ways to make the best out of their Thanksgiving situation.

College junior Aryan Zahraii, a Dubai native, said that in his three years at Penn, he has not heard of options for students staying on campus during Thanksgiving. Instead of spending the holidays at Penn, Zahraii plans to meet up with family in Washington D.C.

College junior Annie Bellis said she didn’t have much of a choice in deciding whether or not she went home, as her parents “decided to have a couple’s weekend instead.” Still, Bellis looks forward to spending the break with a friend who lives in Philadelphia.

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