Keep Their Traditions Alive

Oct 3 / Sara Cowden-Roe, B.A., M.A., B.Ed., OCT
Students bow to their Guardian, as a sign of respect to their parents on Chuseok. Students receive gifts of money for bowing.

There are so many changes students have to adjust to when they make the decision to continue their education in a different country. New language, new customs, and new education systems all combine to add additional pressures on international students that domestic ones might not experience. That’s why we at TEMS believe it is so important for students to keep strong connections to their homes, and part of that is continuing to celebrate holidays and traditions. 

For our guardian students, one of the most important holidays in the Korean calendar is Chuseok. Like Thanksgiving in Canada, Chuseok is a harvest festival and a time to give thanks for the plentiful things in life. There are traditional foods, games, and events that Koreans look forward to as they spend time with family. This year, Chuseok was celebrated at the end of September, just as the leaves were starting to change colours.

Homemade Ddakji, a traditional Korean game. 

It’s a beautiful time of year in Ontario, but it’s also the first real reminder of what students have left behind in their home country. Chuseok is the first celebration they will miss; the first one they will celebrate from afar while their Canadian friends may not recognize the meaning of the day. It’s a real possibility that students’ motivation for studying in Canada will falter at this time as homesickness sets in. It’s understandable! But, as international educators, it’s also preventable. 

Korean Chuseok foods.
Celebrate their traditions with them.
Be interested in what makes up the importance of the holiday, try the different foods, respect the different ceremonies. It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but so often we are caught up in our own start of the year activities and academic plans that we may forget what is going on with our students emotionally at this time of year. 
Students play Yut Nori, a traditional Korean game with a long heritage.
As for us, we enjoyed celebrating Chuseok as an international family and reminding our students that not only do we encourage them to stay connected to their home culture, we will help them do it.