AUBURN – The contestants of Team 2 were listening intently; the host spoke slowly and clearly:

“History, for 200,” said Hannah Read, as she gazed at the card in her hand. “The year of the first Thanksgiving was A) 1492 B) 1621 or C) 1776?”

“B!” shouted Tianjias Yan, as she raised her fist in victory. Laughing, she high-fived her teammates, gathered in the home of Bates professors Kirk Read and Camille Parrish for a post-Thanksgiving meal game of “Jeopardy!”

Team 2 was thrilled; they’d been blanked in the first two rounds of the game. But none were happier than Yan, a freshman from China who was experiencing her first Thanksgiving.

“I was very certain (of the answer),” she said after the game. “I prepared by reading Wikipedia before so I can contribute to my team.”

Yan was joined by three other international students and a teaching assistant, all from far-flung parts of the world and all guests at the Lake Street home of Read and Parrish. For the past four years, the couple has shared their favorite holiday with Bates international students.

“It makes it very festive and pleasant for us,” Parrish said. “We like to cook. … We like to share the holiday with others.”

They aren’t unusual, said James Reese, associate dean of students and adviser for the international students at Bates. The college makes an effort to pair up the 105 students from abroad with homegrown students for the holidays. And there are standing offers to share Thanksgiving with faculty, including college President Elaine Tuttle Hansen, who this year is hosting students from Nepal and Georgia.

“I encourage them to take advantage of the invitations,” Reese said. “It’s a bit of respite for them, and some of them are quite curious about the whole tradition.”

Like stuffed turkey, or cranberry relish – both of which raised the eyebrows of the Read and Parrish guests. But the traditional “Jeopardy!” game with 12 friends and family shared top billing for most fun.

Daughters Alice, 17, and Hannah, 19, got into the act by researching the questions and doing the Alex Trebek duties, while Dad, Kirk, tried to help foundering teams with a subtle hint or two.

“… into New York City,” he mischievously muttered under his breath as Team 2 pondered who declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. The answer: Lincoln (as in tunnel.)

“Kirk!” chastised Camille from the kitchen, where she was warming pies for dessert.

Having global guests puts a bit of a spin on the game. For the question about the diameter of the biggest pumpkin pie ever baked (3 feet, 5 feet or 10 feet) Team 4’s Teresa Tan and Amrita Roy requested a metric conversion.

“This is about 5 feet,” said teammate Anna Bartel, as she spread her arms apart. They nodded, debated and wondered how a 10-foot pie could possibly fit in an oven. The answer, they decided, was 5 feet.

“Right!” exclaimed Hannah. Six hundred points for Team 4.

At evening’s end, it was Team 3 that won the game and the grand prize: three foil-wrapped, solid chocolate turkeys. Nawshaba Nawreen, a freshman from Bangladesh, was pleased her team won, but even more so that her French professor had opened his home to her.

“Since we have been away from family, and we are always eating Ramen noodles, this just feels so good, to be sitting around with other people, with families,” she said, adding she especially enjoyed holding hands with each other at the table when everyone reflected on what they were grateful for. “Every country should have this … a day to appreciate and to thank people.”


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