Halloween traditions become firsts

An event Oct. 21 gave international students hands-on experience with Halloween traditions.

Elizabeth Giorgi

Many students celebrated Halloween this weekend. But for some, it was their first time.

The University’s Small World Coffee Hour, a biweekly opportunity for international and American-born students to casually socialize, aimed to integrate the American-celebrated Halloween into a learning experience.

The Halloween celebration, hosted Oct. 21 by the International Student and Scholar Services, gave students a chance to learn about and enjoy the traditions.

“Carving the pumpkins was my favorite part,” said Jingqing Liu, psychology and education graduate student.

Liu said the chance to carve pumpkins and learn about Halloween helped her understand the American tradition.

“International students can have a hands-on experience of how (Halloween) feels,” she said.

Many international students who come to the United States are looking to engulf themselves in a new cultural experience, she said.

“(International students) come to the United States, and since Halloween is a U.S. festival, we see it as a chance to have fun and learn from the traditions and culture,” Liu said.

Alexander Tkachenko, a member of the Small World Coffee Hour’s student planning committee, was responsible for planning the pumpkin carving event.

He said Halloween is helpful to new international students because they can get involved in University activities and learn about American traditions.

Antonella Corsi Bunker, International Student and Scholar Services assistant, directs Small World Coffee Hour and helped plan the event.

“We wanted to provide a place and decorate it to create Halloween for the students,” she said.

Corsi Bunker said the committee that planned the event doesn’t worry about controversial myths regarding the holiday.

She said the committee tried to emphasize that people in attendance should be open-minded, and people shouldn’t make Halloween scary for those celebrating it for the first time, she said.

The Halloween-themed Small World Coffee Hour had been held in the past, so Corsi Bunker was not concerned with many people being offended by the holiday.

She said the only problem the group has had was when a staff member wore a witch costume to the event and scared some students. Now the members make sure they don’t wear costumes that could scare someone.

Education graduate student Lili Dong was on the planning committee for the Halloween event.

“A lot of participants there were new to Minnesota and the (United States) and it is interesting for them to learn about American culture,” she said.