What’s On My Mind: Gratitude for the Vanderbilt community

Vanderbilt’s campus is quieter than usual this week as many faculty, staff and students travel near and far for the Thanksgiving holiday. The time off provides a quick break before the demanding month of December, which is filled with holiday celebrations, finals and other end-of-year and end-of-semester activities.

Thanksgiving is also a time to consider the people, moments, places and other things that give us joy in our lives. A holiday rooted in thankfulness is not a uniquely American tradition; many countries and cultures have celebrations that offer a time to give thanks, often coinciding with a gathering to mark the end of the harvest. The most popular origin stories for Thanksgiving in America are rooted in such harvest celebrations, although the history of the holiday is complex and often problematic. Many in the United States now celebrate what Thanksgiving has become: a day of togetherness and deliberate gratitude

On Monday evening, I enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with Vanderbilt students staying on campus for the break. It was wonderful to share the traditions of Thanksgiving with these students, many of them international, and see the holiday through their eyes. At the dinner, I asked students in attendance to share what they are thankful for this year. I hope you enjoy some of their responses and are as grateful as I am that they are part of the Vanderbilt community:

  • “Thankful for the relationships I found at Vandy, the opportunity to broaden my mind, and the atmosphere of learning that I live in every day.”
  • “My roommate.”
  • “Vanderbilt Campus Dining.”
  • “Thankful for my first Thanksgiving in the U.S.!”
  • “My supportive friends and family whenever things are hard.”
  • “I am thankful for the support system I’ve found here, and the one that keeps me in mind back home.”
  • “I am thankful to be a part of Vandy, for the beautiful campus, and my friends who are enjoying their amazing dinner with me.”

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and the Vanderbilt community. Each day, I interact with faculty, staff, students, alumni and many others who motivate and inspire me. I am thankful that our community always aims to be better and deliberates the ways in which we can improve. I am particularly grateful that our community invests in the world around us, and that Vanderbilt is filled with people who want to elevate others. I wish you a restful and refreshing holiday, and thank you for being a part of Vanderbilt.