When you’re here, you’re family December 25th, 2011
Corvallis family introduces Christmas to homestay students[Corvallis Gazette-Times, Dec. 25, 2011] — Although they have different skin colors, first languages and religious beliefs, Cheryl Bryson treats Rayan AlFedaih and Hussain AlImbrahim just like family.
AlFedaih and AlImbrahim, both 19, are from Saudi Arabia. The two are staying in Bryson’s north Corvallis home as part of Oregon State University’s homestay program with Bryson and her 16-year-old granddaughter, Nikita Dir.
“I’ve always wanted Nikita to grow up to know it’s not just Corvallis, it’s not just Oregon and it’s not just the United States,” Bryson, 61, said. “I want her to be aware of other cultures and beliefs and not to fear other people.”
OSU partners with Corvallis residents for its homestay program, which offers international students a more holistic experience while studying abroad. Stays with families can last for a weekend or a few years, depending on the host’s preference.
AlFedaih and Allmbrahim are staying for the winter term and are slowly adapting to American culture.
“People are so friendly here. There’s also a lot of green,” AlImbrahim said. He added that at home his family has just one cat, so he was unused to Bryson’s house, which is home to three cats, two dogs and three chickens.
“It’s a zoo in here,” he said.
Saturday, the group prepped for a Bryson Christmas Eve tradition of gathering at a cousin’s house for dinner. Although ham is a staple of the family’s holiday meal, Bryson made a turkey for her guests, who are Muslim and don’t eat pork.
AlFedaih and AlImbrahim said that they are enjoying learning about Christmas traditions, even though there are some parts that remain a mystery.
“I don’t understand Santa,” AlFedaih said. “A chubby man comes from the ceiling into the fireplace. There’s no logic in it.”
The equivalent holiday in Islam, the Saudi students agreed, is Ramadan. Celebrated in the ninth month of the lunar calendar, Ramadan is the month of fasting, intended to teach Muslims patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. When Ramadan is over, Muslims have a large celebration for Eid Al-Fitr, the first day of the next month.
Read more of the original article on the Corvallis Gazette-Times website.
By Emily Gillespie, Corvallis Gazette-Times