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Thanksgiving gets global twist in Potsdam with Saturday feast

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POTSDAM — Dozens of students from around the globe will gather today at New Hope Community Church for turkey, stuffing, pie and all the other hallmarks of a real American Thanksgiving.

This is the annual dinner’s 21st year. It is held by the SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University Chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a religious organization for students.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with international music performances and talks by students from other countries.

These talks usually include plenty of things to be thankful for, but also students sharing what they find difficult about life in America.

“We don’t try to put a spin on anything; we just give the students a platform,” said Paul D. Holt, Upstate NY International Student Ministry coordinator for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

The event is open to the public, but foreign students are the focus. About 100 to 125 guests are expected, and just over half probably will be from other countries.

After the music and presentations, it is time to dig in.

“We do a full-fledged traditional American Thanksgiving,” Mr. Holt said. However, since American food does not agree with all palates, 20 to 30 dishes from other cultures also will be provided.

“It’s fully an international meal, but the heart of it is turkey, stuffing and all the fixings, more than you can eat,” Mr. Holt said.

The event is a way to reach out to international students and give them a taste of American culture, along with showing community members the importance of welcoming those from other countries, Mr. Holt said.

It takes about 80 volunteers, including high schoolers, college students and community members, to put the dinner together. The dinner is advertised largely through word of mouth.

“There’s a lot of repeat customers. They bring friends,” Mr. Holt said.

The presentation also will include the tale of Thanksgiving’s origins, and its ties to Christianity.

“We give thanks to God, and we give thanks to one another for generosity over the last year,” Mr. Holt said.

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