While most students were baking pumpkin pies and watching football in the comfort of their own homes Wednesday, those who remained on campus were invited to take part in a Georgetown tradition: University President John J. DeGioia’s annual Thanksgiving dinner in O’Donovan Hall.

DeGioia and his wife began the tradition his first year as president to provide students who were unable to go home with a proper Thanksgiving.

“[The first year,] we didn’t know if anyone would come, but a few hundred people came,” DeGioia said in this year’s opening remarks.

Georgetown Catering and Leo’s staff decorated the second floor of the dining hall with mood lighting, linen tablecloths, fall-themed centerpieces and a three-piece band to create a festive atmosphere.

To add another personal touch, DeGioia stood at the front of the room and personally greeted each student who walked in. The event drew students from the Georgetown University Medical Center and Law Center in addition to those from the main campus. Many of those who attended were international students.

“It’s a great way to introduce our international students to a truly American Thanksgiving,” DeGioiasaid.

While many students attended with friends who also remained on campus, Min Xiong (GRD ’15), went alone. Xiong, an international student from China, found herself at a table of complete strangers but spoke comfortably with a research assistant and with a professor and his family.

“We [international students] appreciate Georgetown sharing the spirit of the holiday with us. It’s a great way to have a taste of an American Thanksgiving,” Xiong said. “And what a great atmosphere — there’s live music.”

Other international students were equally grateful for the invitation.

“I was really thankful that President DeGioia gave us this opportunity.” Yui Ota (LAW ’13) said. “It shows so much hospitality. Events like these help create a sense of community and help teach us American traditions.”

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