UK Alumni Association hosts 16th annual Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner


Guests make plates of food at the UK Alumni Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Gatton Student Center Ballroom in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Bryce Towle | Kentucky Kernel

Nate Lucas, Reporter

The UK Alumni Association hosted its 16th annual Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 22, in the Gatton Student Center Grand Ballroom.

The Alumni Association emphasized spreading the Thanksgiving experience to multicultural students, but all UK students and their families were welcome to the free meal and event.

Jill Smith, executive director of the UK Alumni Association, attended the festivities.

“We realize that not all of our students on campus understand the Thanksgiving tradition, so we try to use this as an opportunity to teach them a lot of history and also let them taste some of the Thanksgiving food that many of us enjoy every single year,” Smith said.

The food catered consisted of traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey and stuffing, along with options for vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions.

The event included trivia and interactive games throughout the evening along with performances from various musicians. The games were meant to bolster knowledge about Thanksgiving and educate those who might be unfamiliar with the holiday.

Sue Roberts, the associate provost for internationalization, runs the UK International Center and helped to advocate the event to international students.

The International Center helps students get their immigration documents and visas, as well as host orientations for international students on how to settle and succeed at UK.

“I think students understand the meaning of (Thanksgiving),” Roberts said. “And I think while they might not know everything about American Thanksgiving, the turkeys or the traditions, I think they’re really excited to have a window into American culture like this.”

Roberts said she thinks international students are eager to make friends when they come to a new campus. For her, having events like this is a perfect relaxed way to meet new people and enjoy a meal in a setting where grades and tests are absent.

Karolina Kopyonkina, a senior neuroscience major at UK, is in her second year on the International Center leadership team. The team acts as a peer mentor group to international students and also hosts community events

Kopyonkina is originally from Ukraine, but was able to celebrate with her mother’s side of the family who live just 20 minutes away in Versailles. For her, Thanksgiving is a time for family and being grateful.

For international students at UK, it is a harder holiday season and sentiments of missing family are definitely there.

“But I think we try to make a community where everybody feels welcome and we become like a family. So I feel like that really helps,” Kopyonkina said.