Students give thanks at Multicultural Thanksgiving with record turnout


Photo courtesy of Walter Lain

by Taylor Williams, Staff Writer

Chatter and laughter could be heard all the way from the first level of the Kent Campus Center as students filled Hubbell Hall for the annual Multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 14.

Over 100 students were in attendance to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and reflect on what they were grateful for this year.

According to Walter Lain, assistant dean of multicultural and international affairs, and Carolyn Dallinger, professor of criminal justice and human resources, this year’s dinner had one of the biggest turnouts in a long time. They explained the Multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner has taken place the past 13 years.  

In order for students to get their meals, they stood at the front of the room and shared their name, academic level, major and what they were most thankful for.

One student, junior James Mckee, sang his way to his meal and drew laughter from the students. Many students in attendance said they were thankful for their education, pets, roommates, food, friends and family.

This event “gives an example to students on how to share and how to be thankful,” Dallinger said.

She said students are amazed when they see so many members of the Simpson community coming together. “It’s very positive,” she added.

Lain and Dallinger said they used to prepare the meal themselves in the Carver Cultural Center on D Street. They would, however, cook the turkeys overnight at their own house and then bring it over to Kent.

Preparation for the event has since evolved. Now, they just talk to the catering staff and pick the menu and date.

“It’s plug and play,” Lain said.

Several students volunteered to serve the meal this year. The food selection included turkey, ham, corn, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, an assortment of pies and a vegetarian option.

Lain and Dallinger joked that as new vegetarians, this Thanksgiving “is going to be a challenge.”

Since more students attended than had been anticipated, there were at first not enough seats for students to sit down and eat. Lain and Dallinger were quick to make accommodations for students by setting up more tables so everyone felt welcome.

“We have to remind ourselves that even though we are in a place that there seems to be plenty, there are students here because they’ve ran out of their meal plan and don’t have the finances to buy more,” Lain said. “Food insecurity is a real issue, and we can’t minimize it.”

The Multicultural Thanksgiving replicated the atmosphere of a real Thanksgiving dinner. However, Thanksgiving meals hold different meanings for everyone who attended. Seeing students sitting down, having genuine conversations and enjoying each other’s company is what Lain and Dallinger said they look forward to the most.

Meanwhile, sophomore Madaline Paulsen said, “The food is really good, I’m a big fan of it.”

“It’s the confirmation of the American culture,” said sophomore Franco Caramelino.

For freshman Silvia Murillo, Thanksgiving is a time to take a break from everyday life.

Many students, including Paulsen, said Thanksgiving is the perfect time to spend quality time with family and loved ones.