StoriesBack to Stories

U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel Invites YES Abroad Scholars to Thanksgiving Dinner


The night began with a warm welcome at the front gate of the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia's house. Once passing through the stately doors, I was greeted with familiar faces of the Ambassador, members of his staff, YES program alumni I had met at orientations in the US, and my fellow YES Abroad students.

As was half-expected and half a delightful surprise, we were able to savor all of our Thanksgiving favorites from home, from pumpkin pie to cranberry sauce, from mashed potatoes to stuffing, and of course to top it all off, a huge turkey to perfect the celebration. It was a wonderful experience to share with our host families and with fellow Americans. They were in this instance the closest thing we all had to family to spend the holiday with.

Aside from the dinner at "the residence," I celebrated by creating a Thanksgiving feast with a fellow YES Abroad scholar and sharing the holiday with my friends at school. Two days before our feast at the ambassador's house, she and I got together to create a Thanksgiving meal to share with our host families out of what we could access at the local supermarkets. The table was laid with our creations, fall-colored candles, and cinnamon sticks to give the atmosphere of dinner back home. At school, I made hand-turkeys with my class mates out of batik paper. It was a funny juxtaposition to see American-inspired turkeys made out of paper with designs from Indonesia's cultural heritage.

On the backs of our turkeys, we wrote what we had to be thankful for. All of the many things I had to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season crammed the back of my turkey. Although I was spending the holiday so far from home, I had a host family, all new friends, a new country, and a list of new experiences that warmed my heart with thanks.

After introducing the origins and traditions of Thanksgiving, I realized that it was the simple act of giving thanks where it's due that most crossed the cultural barrier. Something unquestionably beautiful.

-Andrew, YES Abroad student 2011-12