Hundreds of international students gathered at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg Campus Ballroom Tuesday to share a staple Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing and, of course, pumpkin pie.

Students from around the world shared laughs and conversations as they celebrated the unique American holiday.

Samantha Lopez, director of International Admissions and Student Services (IASS), said the university hosts the event to welcome students to UTRGV by showing them a part of American culture that they may not have experienced before.

“IASS celebrates Thanksgiving since it is a national holiday in the U.S.,” she said. “We want to expose the international students to American traditions that are part of our culture. We also want to express our gratitude for choosing UTRGV as their school to pursue their studies in the U.S.”

Daniel Trekn, an international student from Ghana earning his Ph.D. in information systems, said the message behind Thanksgiving resonates in his culture as well.

“In my culture we love to show our appreciation a lot,” he said. “I like that in America there is a specific day to show your appreciation.”

Aminur Chowdhury, a graduate chemistry student from Bangladesh, echoed that sentiment, adding that he particularly enjoys the international community at UTRGV.

“Thanksgiving is completely new to me, but in my country we have similar things,” he said. “I am almost 10,000 kilometers from my family so this (the students sitting around him) is my family for now.”

For international students on the Brownsville Campus, the Thanksgiving lunch will take place at noon Wednesday, Nov. 11, in Salon Cassia.