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Globalization of an American tradition

  • Smile!
    Smile!  A preliminary jack-o-lantern sketch by a child who was able to carve pumpkins thanks to the Reves Center's Link Program.  Photo by Greg Benson '11
  • One pumpkin...ha, ha, ha
    One pumpkin...ha, ha, ha  Two students consult some source material before finalizing the carving on their pumpkin.  Photo by Greg Benson '11
  • She got the scoop
    She got the scoop  Sanami Takasaki '11, an international student from Japan, shows off a freshly scooped pumpkin.  Photo by Greg Benson '11
  • Teamwork
    Teamwork  (l to r) Meiyi Chan '11, Sarah Roux '11 and Katherine Schaller '11 pose near their handiwork.  Photo by Greg Benson '11
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Few things hail the official arrival of fall more dependably and vibrantly than the multitude of pumpkins which descend on doorsteps nationwide around mid to late October. However, yesterday’s blustery afternoon was the first time that many students and families connected to the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies were able to experience the American tradition of crafting a jack-o-lantern.

The Reves Center’s annual pumpkin carve is a big event for many students who are studying abroad at William & Mary for anywhere from a semester to the full four years. Many of the students who attended the event yesterday said that this was the first time in their lives that they had ever participated in this Halloween tradition, which prompted a wide variety of reactions.

Jessica Wang ’12, who had never made a jack-o-lantern before yesterday afternoon, described the experience as “strange but really fun.” Also at the event was Wang’s friend Kathryn Gosciewski ’12 who was first introduced to the world of pumpkin carving last year by the Reves Center and came back yesterday for a second time. Gosciewski hails from Italy where she says the tradition of pumpkin carving is present but not as prominent, due to the swapping out of bright orange pumpkins for those of a smaller green variety.

Also present for the carving party were many participants in the Link program, which helps the spouses and families of international students and faculty become adjusted by organizing cultural emersion events and establishing connections with local “conversation partners.” Many of these local families also came to carve pumpkins, bringing with them costumed kids that ran everywhere from bunny rabbits to Obi Wan Kenobi.

As for her own inaugural pumpkin carving experience Wang said that her witch’s hat and broom combination “came out okay” but added that she was very pleased at the wide and varied turnout. “This is a lot of the international student’s first American cultural experience,” the sophomore said. “It’s cool to see them showing up and going at it.”