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ISSUE 121 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/30/2007

Professors, guests give thanks

By Lyndel Owens
News Editor

Friday, November 30, 2007

At St. Olaf, Thanksgiving is widely considered a time to visit with family and take a break from college life, though each year a few students remain on campus.

Many of these students who don't return home due to distance or lack of time enjoy Thanksgiving day with professors and professors' families. Nina Muehleck '10 and Ian McPherson '11 spent the holiday with Marc Robinson, their Russian professor. Muehleck was impressed with the food the family shared, especially the homemade organic pumpkin pie. "It was the one substantial meal I got [all week]," Muehleck said.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving participating professors extend an open invitation to students through e-mail alias and word of mouth.

"I grew up in a household that had an 'open door' policy -- my mom always had "stray" people joining us for meals. I wanted my kids raised in that kind of environment as well. So our house has always been full of students," Robinson said.

Some settled the event months in advance, as Chris Waters '10 did with CIS Program Coordinator Susan Carlson. Waters and visiting student Shinichi Moroto shared an afternoon meal with Carlson and her extended family.

Waters was one of approximately 14 people at the Carlson household on Thanksgiving. "It was Shinichi's first Thanksgiving, so it was really fun explaining all the traditions to him," Waters said. Last year Waters spent Thanksgiving with professor of chemistry Gregory Muth.

The holiday lunch was Water's first home-cooked meal in nearly six months; he has not been home since June. Muehleck reemphasized the trouble distance causes in traveling to see family. "The problem is I live pretty far away and the break is so short," she said.

Waters and Muehleck both worked long hours at the dorm's front desks and appreciated the reprieve Thanksgiving with the professors allowed them. "They just made us feel really comfortable. It was a really laid back atmosphere," Muehleck noted.

Robinson commended students who gather with professors and their extended family. "It takes a great amount of self-assurance to join in a holiday with another family," Robinson said.

"I also enjoy having the time to find out more about the students and get to know them better. I enjoy seeing them relax a bit. Thanksgiving comes at a very stressful time of the year -- and so everyone needs a chance to unwind a bit," he said.

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