When your staff is made up of over 50 different people, from 15 different countries who speak nearly two-dozen languages, Thanksgiving traditions are bound to be fun – and delicious.
Several international members of the New American Pathways team were kind enough to share their plans for the holiday – some of their favorite foods, traditions, and high points of the day.
Employment Specialist Carole Simon says she’ll be staying home this Thanksgiving, but is expecting a house full of family and friends. She will prepare a little extra food for those who do not have a place to celebrate, and of course, for those who decide to join in on the festivities a bit last minute.
Carole was born in Haiti, where the day after New Year’s is their Independence Day and is the day they give thanks. Although Carole has lived in the U.S since 1981, she is still very much connected with her cultural roots. A few items on the menu at Carole’s house this Thanksgiving will be a deep fried turkey seasoned and spiced the “Haitian” way, traditional rice and beans from her home country, and a four-cheese macaroni with sautéed bell peppers. For dessert, Carole will stop by Copeland’s and order several Napoleon cheesecakes topped with vanilla whipped cream.
Senior Women’s Program Coordinator, Prisca Uwigabye will be traveling to Rhode Island to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. For Thanksgiving, Prisca and her family typically make traditional Rwandan dishes to enjoy and dance together well into the night. One of her favorite dishes that will be prepared this year is sombe, a popular Central African dish of pounded cassava leaves, vegetables, spices, and dry fish.
Prisca’s friends and family welcome anyone who comes to their celebration as part of their culture, and they feed them like family members. Prisca is excited for the upcoming holiday and believes Thanksgiving should be “a reminder that we need to come together to support, embrace, and love one another.”
Marie-Chantal Hakizimana, our beloved receptionist, was born in Burundi but grew up in Rwanda. She has been invited to a close friend’s house for Thanksgiving. She is excited to eat traditional Rwandan food such as umudaho, but says a turkey will also be prepared as their American tradition. The men are responsible for making banana beer to serve with dinner.
Marie-Chantal is looking forward to an all-day celebration filled with laughs with the people who are closest to her, but adds that Thanksgiving is a day for sharing. In Rwanda, Umuganura – “The Day of Sharing” – is the equivalent of Thanksgiving and is usually celebrated the first week of August. Like Prisca, she says that no one is turned away.
Finance Controller, Bambi Bakatukanda will be traveling to her in-law’s house to spend the holiday with almost forty of her family members. Bambi is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and says the family will make a turkey, but the majority of dishes prepared will be culturally based. A few traditional foods on the menu are samboussas – a beef-filled pastry – plantains, beans, and African beignets.
Family Engagement Manager, Anastassia Hardy is not yet sure who will be hosting dinner, but is looking forward to what she refers to as this year’s “Orphan Thanksgiving” with her close friends. As a tradition, Anastassia and her friends, who are all from different countries, gather together and feast on a variety of culturally diverse foods. She enjoys the Thanksgiving holiday because she says it gives her a good excuse to reach out to friends to gather and have a good time, without any food fights.
Whatever your traditions, we wish you all – our New American Pathways family – a safe and loving Thanksgiving holiday.