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Serving Thanksgiving Dinner, With a Side of Hospitality

Staff, Faculty Welcome Terp Students to Their Homes for Holiday Feasts

By Laura Barnhardt Cech

Six people pose with Thanksgiving dinner

Photo courtesy of Sharon Tharkur

From left, Sharon Tharkur ’05, M.S. ’09, finance coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Studies, opened her home to freshman Wei Qiu of China through the Be Our Guest: Sharing Our Thanksgiving Table program. Others gathered there included son Nicholas Tharkur ’20, family friends Greg Mack ’20 and Michael Strother '19, and daughter Gabrielle Tharkur '18.

Sharon Tharkur, a native of Jamaica, has always brought international flavors to her family’s Thanksgiving table. This year, it felt more global than ever.

The finance coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Studies welcomed Wei Qiu, a freshman from China, to join the 20 people dining at her Montgomery County home on Thursday as part of the Be Our Guest: Sharing Our Thanksgiving Table program at the University of Maryland.

They shared a buffet of American Thanksgiving classics and family favorites such as jerk turkey, curry lamb, Lahmacun (a Middle Eastern pizza), mac and cheese, and corn pie (using a recipe from a friend in Barbados). Desserts included pumpkin pie, Jamaican fruit cake and homemade Jamaican coffee ice cream.

“We’ve lived overseas,” said Tharkur ’05, M.S. ’09. “Holidays can be hard if you don’t have family nearby.”

Wei called the corn pie "the best ever."

"As an international student, I am always interested in learning about American customs during holidays," he said. "So I thought that this Thanksgiving night activity was a great opportunity for me to learn some more fun facts."

The “Be Our Guest” program, begun in 2017 in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) and the School of Public Health, connects staff and faculty volunteers with international or out-of-state students who can’t go home for the holiday, as well as students who don’t have family nearby. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Arts and Humanities and the Robert H. Smith School of Business participated the following year. The Office of Undergraduate Studies joined BSOS and the Smith School this year.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students who are unable to go home for Thanksgiving weekend,” said William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies. “We are grateful to Melissa Hyre in Letters and Sciences for coordinating the program so that the Office of Undergraduate Studies staff could share their hospitality.”

The crowd at the Tharkur home included her own children, Gabrielle ’18 and Nicholas ’20 and their Terp friends.

“The students all sat together downstairs. It’s not formal,” said Tharkur. “It’s all fun.”

Schools & Departments:

Office of Undergraduate Studies

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