Celebrating Home while Abroad


Left: Yary (left) at the Pchum Ben Day; Center: Herbie (left) with friends at the Fall Funfest; Right: Saruulbayar (right) celebrating Korean Thanksgiving with friends.

Pchum Ben Day  | Yary Keo, Cambodia, University of Houston Victoria

“I went to Houston to join the local Cambodian community in celebrating Pchum Ben Day, which is a traditional religious holiday in Cambodia. I was so delighted to meet a lot of Cambodians here in the U.S. We did a good deed together, which is a feature of our religion. I also had a chance to visit Cambodian-owned farms and saw their greenhouses with many types of vegetables; it was awesome. It made me proud to be a Cambodian.”

Mid-Autumn Festival | Heyang Yang, China, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville 

“Since there was no activity for Mid-Autumn Festival on campus, I spent my day with some other Chinese students. We cooked Chinese dishes together and shared tea and moon cakes. Then we took a walk in the neighborhood at night, chatting and enjoying the roundest, brightest, and biggest moon.

In China, Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for families and friends to reunite. Instead of being lonely, I remembered the idea spoken about in many ancient Chinese poems—as long as we are enjoying the same moon, we are together. For me it was a fantastic night, and I didn’t feel lonely although my family is back home in China. I saw many beautiful houses lit up as brightly as the moon. I smelled the warm aroma of food from these houses, and I had a feeling of peace.”

Fairs in Matagalpa, Nicaragua and in Cookeville, Tennessee | Herbie Maria Castro Torres, Nicaragua, Tennessee Tech University

“In my country we do not have four seasons, we only have winter and summer. It seems like it’s summer all the time due to the high temperatures that we have nearly year-round in the Pacific. In my city, Matagalpa, there are two important fairs that are held at the beginning and end of each year – the corn fair and the coffee fair. Each fair lasts three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The local tourism institute is responsible for organizing and coordinating with artisans, producers, and small businesses from across the country. There are entertaining musical presentations, dances, and competitions. During the first day of the fair, the corn queen and coffee queen are crowned.

Although we do not have autumn festivals in my home country, I am celebrating in the U.S. This weekend our campus will host a Fall Harvest Fair in which different people will be selling crafts. Two weekends ago, I went with two friends to the Fall FunFest organized by the city of Cookeville. There were many things to buy – handicrafts and, of course, lots of food—and the music was great!”

Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving | Saruulbayar Ganbold, Mongolia, Emporia State University 

“Today, me and my other friends were invited to Korean Thanksgiving. We celebrated with Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Filipino and Korean friends. The Korean food was so delicious, and I really enjoyed it! Me and my friends are like family, so we often talk and enjoy meals together.”