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Raina, YES Abroad 2019-20, the Philippines
This was my second year in a row spending Thanksgiving outside of the U.S. and away from my family. Last year I'd barely noticed the holiday, so I assumed it wouldn't be a big deal this year either. Still, I wanted to share a little bit of my culture with my host family, so I went to the store to look for pumpkin pie ingredients.
After about 45 minutes of searching in vain I was struck by homesickness, thinking back to baking with my mom. I could barely hold back tears as I looked for spices. Eventually, I pulled myself together and got ingredients for mashed potatoes and cinnamon apples. That night, my host sister helped me make them as we blasted her favorite band, One Direction. We added way too much seasoning into both dishes, but they tasted like there was love in them. I made a rather ridiculous attempt to sing "Simple Gifts," and my host mom, host sister and I shared things we were thankful for before digging into the potatoes, the apples, and pancit canton, a traditional Filipino dish.
It was a small moment, but my host family made me feel better. I felt so lucky to have been placed in a home with individuals that I can call “family,” especially on a holiday about giving thanks for the important people in your life. As cheesy as it sounds, the opportunity to have an intercultural Thanksgiving made me realize how truly thankful I am for the opportunity to be in the Philippines, and to spend time with people I've come to care about deeply!