Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrating the holidays with our alumni in America

A purple graphic with images of leaves and pumpkins as a border. In the centre text reads Happy Thanksgiving.

For many people, Thanksgiving is a special time of year to meet with family and friends, take time off, and celebrate the good things in life!

This year we have asked several of our alumni living in America how they will be celebrating, and they have shared their stories with you.

Yasamin Fozouni is a member of the Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) currently living in Dallas, Texas. Originally from Iran, Yasamin studied Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Loughborough and moved to America in 2014. She studied a master’s and began her doctorate in Computer Science at Southern Methodist University in 2017. We asked her how she is celebrating the holidays this year:

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in the US. My family comes together at my cousin's house and we eat, drink and then eat again. I've been lucky to have some family in the States and to spend the day with them and all the kids in the family. We cook the traditional thanksgiving meal and then spend the evening browsing the Black Friday deals.”

Fellow AAB member, Emma Fu grew up in China and she now lives in California. She studied International Economics and Business Analysis and Management at Loughborough, leaving in 2010. She has recently taken on a new role at Amazon Web Services following several years at Apple. Here’s what Thanksgiving means to her:

“California is quite diverse and so we adopt our own way to celebrate it. Thanksgiving truly means a family gathering for us but how you celebrate it, what you eat, and what you do are up to families themselves. For example, in my family we cook roast ducks or eat hot pot during this special day.”

Alumna Lauren Brzozowski has also shared an insight into how she celebrates Thanksgiving. She graduated from Loughborough with a master’s degree in Marketing in 2020 and was selected to represent Team USA's development team in bobsled last year. She said:

“It’s crazy because I have not been home for thanksgiving in many years due to competitions for track and bobsled. However, this will be my first year coming home to celebrate it in 5 years.

“It really is one of the best holidays that my family celebrates. We also have a few traditions such as snapping peas, cooking the famous mushroom casserole and my favorite…playing tag football.

“At the end of the day it is one of my favorite holidays because it brings my whole family together in one place. I get to see literally everyone - grandparents, cousins, siblings, etc. - and for that I am extremely grateful. I love my family and the beautiful memories we continue to collect on special days like thanksgiving.”

Image: Cory K. Doviak NJS.com Editorial Director.

Lauren Brzozowski. Image: Cory K. Doviak/NJS.com Editorial Director.‌

We also asked current student Lilian Briggs about her Thanksgiving traditions. Currently studying Civil Engineering at Loughborough, her Thanksgiving looks a little different in the UK. At home it’s usually a big family gathering:

“At home, we would alternate between staying home and going to Scranton, PA to visit family.

“We would stay home on the years that our town’s high school football team was playing at home and watch them play. In high school, this also meant playing in the pep band at the game!

“My grandmother was originally from Scranton, PA and although no one from our family lives there anymore, the entire extended family (40-60 people depending on the year!) meets up and stays at a hotel where we have dinner in a banquet hall. Although unconventional, it means so much to see my extended family members every other year.”

When they meet in Scranton, the family enjoy a tie contest, where the men wear their favorite tie, or one with special meaning. They also find a park to play flag football and Lilian enjoys getting Krispy Kreme donuts the day after Thanksgiving – something she has continued in the UK!

A group of people posing for a family photo, some seated at a table Lilian's family Thanksgiving in Scranton, 2016

Moving to the UK for university, Thanksgiving is a different experience for Lilian:

“Since I have started university, my Thanksgivings have looked a bit different. I have made an effort to make a dinner each year and celebrate with friends, with the exception of 2020 when I joined my family’s Zoom Thanksgiving.

“To prepare for each Thanksgiving meal, I bring over Bell’s seasoning and a can of jellied Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

“This year, I will have a big Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday with my housemate and her family. I am really looking forward to it because it will be more similar to Thanksgivings I have had in the past.”

Lilian is also helping other students to celebrate and to learn about Thanksgiving:

“I am going to have a table in the students’ union where people can write what they’re thankful for and put it on a tree. I will also be volunteering in the on campus nursery to teach children about Thanksgiving and make hand-turkeys as many children in the US do when they are little.”

Lilian wishes everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and is looking forward to celebrating and teaching Thanksgiving traditions to students (and toddlers!).

Hundreds of Loughborough graduates across America and beyond will be celebrating this week. As they come together with friends and family to give thanks, we also look forward to bringing groups of alumni together in the new year during the Vice-Chancellor’s visit to New York and San Francisco. For the first time in his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings will be hosting two alumni receptions in the USA and is very much looking forward to meeting you there.

How are you celebrating? Get involved by sharing your stories and photographs via our USA Alumni Facebook group or tweet us @lboroalumni.

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