Hurricane Sandy has left a lot more than just physical destruction in her path. She is also leaving some students and their families separated for this Thanksgiving.
Senior and double major in elementary education and English/language arts Ikechukwu Nwaro said his plans are to “spend his Thanksgiving with his family “down south”. After all the devastation from the storm, my family just wants to get away from the East Coast and meet up.”
But that doesn’t mean their Thanksgiving has to be nonexistent. Even if students cannot be at home surrounded by family and friends, whether because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy or simply just not returning home, there are ways to make a Thanksgiving of their own at Wilkes.
Executive Director for Global Education and Diversity Georgia Costalas said the timing of Thanksgiving brings a “culture shock.” Some people suffer from home sickness, mostly first-year students, and Thanksgiving happens to hit at the bottom part of the cycle where students are most vulnerable.
“You want to be at home with people who you know and love,” Costalas said.
There are a number of things students can do to better their Thanksgiving experience, and Costalas said that begins with being proactive.
“It’s good to make a plan for that time,” she said. “Students should try to go to someone’s home or do something else they might want to do.”
In general, it’s important for students to reach out to an adviser or counselor and see what they can do.
“You have to really look,” Costalas said. “See where you can go, make a plan, find a friend, see what restaurants or stores will be open, get out of your comfort zone, Skype.”
Costalas said a lot of international students will be studying, but otherwise students should see if there is somewhere else they can go.
There are people on campus who are willing to reach out.
Costalas said about 30 to 40 international students each year go to American families for Thanksgiving and have a great time.
“I try to hook them up with families on campus or in the community so that they can experience Thanksgiving with an American family.”
Director of Residence Life Elizabeth Swantek said there are varying degrees as to why students don’t go home for the holiday.
“Some students don’t want to go home for domestic reasons, while others cannot leave for financial reasons, such as not being able to afford to take a bus or because they don’t have a car,” Swantek said.
Swantek also said an athletic or academic commitment sometimes prevents students from going home. In this case, they would be leaving with a coach, faculty or staff member every day.
Regardless of the circumstances, students and RAs are supposed to check in with one another on a regular basis so that everyone is on the same page.
Swantek said Evans Hall and University Towers are kept open for low occupancy purposes. RAs do the rounds and then students who do not live in either of those buildings get placed in one of those buildings or stay with friends. If any problems should arise, Residence Life is to be contacted.
Some students know they cannot go home and ask to be placed in either Towers or Evans. There have been cases in the past where students have stayed with friends, etc.
“I think the main thing is that we have a set, open protocol for breaks,” Swantek said. “If there are students who cannot go home, they need to see either Assistant Resident Life Director Danielle Kern or Swantek. As long as students communicate with us, we will do anything we can to help them.”
For questions or details about Thanksgiving break, contact Swantek at [email protected] or Danielle Kern at [email protected]