NYU Shanghai Celebrates Thanksgiving Week
The NYU Shanghai community came together this week to share over one hundred turkeys, thousands of slices of pie, and some light-hearted and grateful moments in celebration of the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
“2020 has been extremely challenging for our community here in Shanghai and around the world,” said Dean of Students David Pe. “We wanted to take a moment to give thanks for what we do have, when the world has experienced such loss.”
The university is usually closed for Thanksgiving, but because of the pandemic-induced delay to the start of the fall semester, school remained in session for the whole week. University officials, however, decided that the holiday could not go uncelebrated. Pe worked with campus caterer Sproutworks to give every student - both NYU Shanghai and Go Local students - a chance to sign up for a free turkey dinner with all the trimmings: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie every evening during Thanksgiving week.
A meal of turkey with all the trimmings: mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie was offered free to students all week. For students in the final stages of quarantine, the Thanksgiving meal was boxed up and delivered.
For many students, it was their first time tasting a traditional Thanksgiving meal. “Before this week, I only knew of Thanksgiving as something my English teacher brought up in class every year. We never celebrated, but we knew about the meanings,” said Sophie Peng ’24, a native of Chongqing. “This week I got to have my first Thanksgiving dinner with my friends and I loved how the meal brought us together to enjoy time with each other.”
Most of NYU Shanghai’s international students - who represent half of the student body - are still spread out across 70+ countries around the world due to the pandemic. But many have begun returning - or for the freshmen, arriving for the first time - to Shanghai. About 30 international students so far have completed 14 days’ quarantine, multiple COVID tests, and 7-days post-quarantine isolation, while more than 80 are still in various stages of quarantine. Dozens more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
Thanksgiving Day happened to be freshman Pedro Petcov ’24’s first time ever on campus. “It’s amazing to be on campus and meeting people in-person for the first time,” said Petcov, who arrived three weeks ago from McLean, Virginia and had just completed quarantine. “It’s Thanksgiving, of course I'm missing my family a bit, but Thanksgiving here feels familiar. Like I’m home.”
Pedro Petcov, right, with new friends at the Thanksgiving dinner.
For Stephanie Anderson ‘23, of Atlanta, Georgia, it was just her second day back on campus after almost eleven months away from Shanghai. “For me even though today is Thanksgiving and I’m away from my family, I don't feel sad and I don’t feel lonely,” she said. “I’m finally back with this family, and I’m so grateful to everyone that helped me get back here.”
“For me even though today is Thanksgiving and I’m away from my family, I don't feel sad and I don’t feel lonely. I’m finally back with this family, and I’m so grateful to everyone that helped me get back here.”
Stephanie Anderson reuniting with her friend Cristal Wei ‘23 .
On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, students were surprised when NYU Shanghai Chancellor Tong Shijun, Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman, Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen, and several Deans joined in the festivities by taking turns behind the cafeteria line to serve dinner.
L: Chancellor Tong Shijun, alongside Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman, and Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen offer words of gratitude to NYU Shanghai staff members before the meal. R: Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman and Dean Maria Montoya serve pie to students.
The chancellors also kicked off the evening by paying tribute to NYU Shanghai security and custodial staff who had been invited to share in the meal. Student performers, including NYU Shanghai’s dance troupe and a band of jazz musicians, also shared their talents and added to the lively atmosphere.
NYU Shanghai security guards and custodial staff enjoying Thanksgiving dinner - with chopsticks!
Daniel Li NYU ’23, kicked off the student performances with a guitar solo.
In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving food served every night, Student Life and Student Government hosted activities all week to encourage students to express their gratitude. The hallways leading to the cafeteria were lined with floor length posters for people to write what they were thankful for. The Student Government committee set up tables where students could write “Gratitude Grams” to their friends to hang on a “Thankful Tree.”
Students writing notes of gratitude to their classmates and NYU Shanghai’s support staff.
The committee also spearheaded a gratitude program to show thankfulness to the service workers at NYU Shanghai by writing thank you notes. “Especially this year, the ayis and shifus are working hard with COVID-19 prevention and much of their work is unseen. We hope to use this chance to show our great appreciation for their commitments,” said Guan Xiaoyi ‘23, Director of the Student Life and Residence Committee. “I hope this event will remind students that we should not take their excellent service for granted and that they play an important role in our NYU Shanghai community.”