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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Office of Student Housing creates Thanksgiving Host Program


Office of student housing staff Keith Waak and Joseph DiMaria, Asst. Director and Director of Office of Student Housing respectively. 

This year the Office of Student Housing is offering a program for students, for the second consecutive year, to participate in the revived “Thanksgiving Host Program.” This will give the University of Massachusetts Boston students the unique possibility to spend this holiday with a host family.

Through the application process that is conducted via UMass Boston’s website, students are matched with a host based on common interests, food restrictions, locations, and other deciding factors.

UMass Boston’s faculty and staff members are taking the role of the host and inviting students to their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. Host families offer their hospitality voluntarily and they receive no financial support for this unique service to the UMass students.

In general, all UMass Boston students are eligible to apply for this program, although it is mainly targeted towards the international student population at UMass. The majority of them are spending the holidays away from their families and their home countries, and oftentimes they want to experience American culture and tradition but don’t have the opportunity to do it. By spending Thanksgiving with American families they are able to take part in this holiday and celebrate it in a more personal setting.

Furthermore, it is possible for the students to celebrate with other students at the same home if the host is willing to open his or her door to more than one student.

This program is another important contribution to the UMass community because it helps students to connect with their school and its member even more, as well as helping to build relationships within the school. “If you know that a professor lives four streets over, it expands the UMass Boston community out beyond the campus,” describes Joseph DiMaria, Director of the Students Housing Office.

Students who participated in last year’s Thanksgiving Host Program rated it very positively and recalled that they have enjoyed this special experience. Altogether around 16 students took part in the program.
Overall, the past year has show that there is a demand by both students and faculty members for programs like this that support the social life at UMass Boston and help students connect better with the school. Keith Waak, the Assistant Director of the Office of Student Housing, who is spearheading this program this year, explains that, “It is simply about outreaching to those students who may want to have a place to go, to experience a traditional Thanksgiving here in America, and to have this opportunity.”