Thanksgiving is a North American holiday rooted in sharing, gratitude, and good food. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated by sitting down with family over an enormous feast, sharing stories, and eating until you physically cannot cram any more pumpkin pie into your stomach.

The food is important, of course, but the real magic of the holiday comes from the concept of togetherness that it fosters. Gatherings with family and loved ones can often be taken for granted. Yes, they tend to be hectic and overwhelming, but at the end you are left with happiness and warmth. Unfortunately, there are many people around the world that, for a variety of reasons, do not have the opportunity to engage in these types of festivities.

On Thursday, November 23rd, the faculty and staff of Franklin University Switzerland will join with the Mensa Sociale delle ACLI to bring Thanksgiving to the underserved population of Lugano. Compared to large cities like New York or Paris, there is not a significant homeless population in Lugano, or Switzerland in general; however, there are a number of people that lack human interaction and could benefit from conversation with caring strangers over a hot meal. The local Mensa, Lugano’s only soup kitchen, provides this opportunity every day of the year, and welcomes anyone that shows up.

The kitchen is run by Friar Martino Dotta, with the support of the International Christian Workers’ Associations (ACLI) and Globus Gateway Tours SA. The food is usually provided by an internal professional chef; however, for the second year in a row, the University will prepare an authentic Thanksgiving meal for the patrons of the Mensa. This tradition is not merely a matter of sharing food, but sharing culture and tradition. Although Thanksgiving originates in North America, the practice of eating good food in good company is universally relatable and appreciated.

This cross-cultural gathering gives a chance for Lugano residents to be exposed to a foreign practice, and exchange kind words with members of the Franklin community. Last year’s celebration left a lasting and positive impact on the Mensa’s guests, and is expected to do the same this year.

We wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!