Imagine being a college student from India, China, or Uganda studying in America. Everything is strange and new. Then, the second week in December, there is a mass exodus from the campus. Your roommate, everyone in the dorm, and the professors are going home for a holiday called “Christmas.” At the mall, there are festive decorations, people scurrying to buy gifts, and children in line to see a fat man in a red suit, while chipmunks sing about hula hoops.
For the more than 723,000 international college students, the typical Christmas hype in America may be confusing and weird. Unfortunately they may never experience the true meaning of the season.
“Many international students never visit in an American home,” said Phyllis Hoover, coordinator for international student services at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee. “For those who do so, they feel especially fortunate.”
This Christmas, make an international student’s season merry and bright. Invite him or her to come “home for the holidays.” Plan an afternoon or evening get-together:
Hoover said there could be challenges in befriending international students because of the cultural differences and their youth:
In a few years, that international student in your home may become a leader of his or her nation. God clearly tells us how we should treat him or her:
“You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself” (Lev. 19:34a HCSB).
Janice Backer is a freelance writer living in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
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