Millikin University’s International Students Celebrate the Holiday Season

Millikin’s current group of international students comes from more than 30 countries.


DECATUR, Ill. – While several other countries celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving, America’s version of the holiday is unique in its cuisine traditions and history. 

Millikin University celebrated and gave thanks with the University’s visiting international students, who come from more than 30 countries around the globe this semester.

A feast was prepared for the group, as some students would soon leave campus with their semester over, while others would remain at Millikin to complete their degree. 

Guy Gahungu, a sophomore accounting major, has been learning about the Thanksgiving holiday and is getting more comfortable with American culture since arriving at Millikin from Burundi a year ago. 

“I didn’t know anything about Thanksgiving, but I’ve learned that it is a time to be thankful for everything in your year and for your family,” Guy said. “There is also a turkey who is pardoned every year by the President.”

The international students were hosted in the University Commons Banquet Rooms and enjoyed all the trimmings, including turkey, potatoes, stuffing, yams, green bean casserole and cornbread. 

Guy Gahungu
Millikin Accounting Major Guy Gahungu is the President of the International Student Organization. 

“It is fun, and the food was really good. It is so much better than going to the cafeteria,” Guy said. “At the dinner, we are more like a group and get to communicate and reconnect after a long semester. It is a good way to reunite with each other.”

Growing up in Burundi’s largest city, Bujumbura, Guy didn’t anticipate that his academic future would find him traveling nearly 8,000 miles to Decatur, Ill. 

“Originally, I didn’t plan on studying abroad. Doing foreign studies was not what I was going to do, but my mother said that if I wanted a really good education, I should go outside the country,” Guy said. “A friend of a friend had a connection with Millikin, and I sent in my documents. My mother knew some other Burundian students who had studied at Millikin and knew it would be a good environment.”

After arriving, Millikin staff and student members of the International Student Organization (ISO) assisted Guy in becoming familiar with the campus. He is now the president of ISO himself, helping the next group of newly arrived students in their first weeks. 

“When you come here, you are welcomed that first week. They checked in on me a lot and checked that I found all of my classes and found the cafeteria. They were trying their best to make you feel at home,” he said. “I’m now the president of the ISO, and I try to be involved with international students as much as I can. I volunteer to welcome new students and recommend that they get to know the campus and be involved in ISO.”

After graduation, Guy hoped to intern at an accounting firm and eventually return to Burundi. In the meantime, he’s active on campus, working at the Center for International Education (CIE), active on the University Center Board (UCB), and taking part in Performance Learning opportunities with Millikin Tabor Consulting (MTC), a student-run marketing consulting venture. 

“At MTC, we do some marketing for small businesses here in Decatur. We’ve been helping a local coffee shop with an expansion of their services and products. I am having a lot of fun doing the project,” Guy said. “I like the openness at Millikin. There is a really good relationship between the students and the professors. It is more like a friend who is there to help you succeed on your journey. They are trying hard. I really appreciate the relationship we get to have with our professors.”