While many students will be traveling home to spend Thanksgiving with their families, those who are remaining at USC for the weekend will have the opportunity to spend the holiday with President C.L. Max Nikias and the Trojan Family.
Nikias will host a Thanksgiving dinner at the president’s house in San Marino — free of charge — for any student staying on campus for the weekend. It will be the first of its kind hosted by a USC president.
A traditional Thanksgiving meal will be served along with several vegetarian options, and students will have the opportunity to meet Nikias and his family.
“My wife Niki and I, as well as our daughters Georgiana and Maria, will be welcoming the students and I’m sure we’ll have good conversations,” Nikias said. “I love students and I want to connect with them in every way that I can.”
Over the next few weeks, the Division of Student Affairs will determine which students will be staying on campus during the holiday weekend in order to send them invitations to the dinner.
Students will RSVP on a first-come, first-serve basis to the event, which will host up to 350 guests.
The dress code will be semi-formal, and those students who are attending will be bused to and from the president’s house.
According to Nikias, his wife originally had the idea to invite students over for the dinner.
“We want USC students to understand the warmth of Thanksgiving, and hosting them at my home with my own family seemed like a great way to do it,” Nikias said.
Nikias said he hopes that the dinner will give students the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving gathering even if they are not spending the holiday at home.
“Niki and I know that many students are not able to be with their families and friends at holidays, and we wanted to provide a way for them to still feel a sense of community,” Nikias said. “Our students come to USC from all over the world, and it’s wonderful to be able to share time with those who don’t have family close by.”
Charlie O’Connor, a freshman majoring in theatre, said that the dinner would be a welcome opportunity to spend the holiday with others.
“It’s nice of him to host this,” O’Connor said. “I wouldn’t want to be stuck here on my own if everyone else was gone. It gives people a chance to join together.”
In addition to providing students with a communal Thanksgiving dinner, the event will also serve to show international students a uniquely American holiday.
O’Connor, who is originally from London, said that the idea of Thanksgiving is completely foreign to him and an event like this would most likely help other international students learn about it.
“To me, Thanksgiving was always like that episode of Friends I could never relate to. I wouldn’t even know it was happening if I was in England,” O’Connor said. “The dinner will help people to get immersed in it because it’s a very American thing and a staple of American culture.”
Nikias believes that the Thanksgiving dinner will be helpful, especially to international students who are experiencing the holiday for the first time.
“Many of us have had the experience of being away from home when others are celebrating a national holiday,” Nikias said. “In particular, many of us are new to American culture and traditions. This is a great way to introduce Thanksgiving to those who’ve never celebrated the event.”
Cheuk Yi Lau, a senior majoring in communication, said the dinner would be a good chance to connect with the president.
“People who can’t go home can feel like USC is their second home at this dinner, and its a good opportunity to talk with the president of USC,” Lau said. “They’ll feel better about not going home for the holiday and students will feel more excited about this dinner.”
Correction: 10/13/10: The president’s is located in San Marino, not Pasadena as originally identified. This entry has been corrected to reflect the change.