By Giorgio Gambazzi '18
During this year's Thanksgiving, an overall feeling of gratitude and joy was present all over campus. This spirit was emphasized by Said, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee supported by the Swiss Red Cross, when he spoke to the Red Cross Refugees Service Learning group the day before Thanksgiving and expressed his own feelings of gratitude towards life. In his discourse, he stated: "I'm thankful for being here today. Although it took me two years to finally make it to Switzerland, I couldn't feel more grateful towards life and how it is taking care of me." This statement moved those of us in attendance, and in turn made us realize how thankful we are for having such great opportunities in life and being able to attend a school like TASIS. It is truly beautiful how Thanksgiving makes people realize how much they have in life, even if at times it may seem insignificant and overlooked, as student Jasper Beckmen '18 noted in this remark: "I'm thankful for having my two legs and two arms because when thought of, the mere fact of possessing a complete and healthy body makes one realize just how grateful we all should be."
At Family-Style Dinners, students, faculty members, and faculty children enjoy a
meal together while student volunteers help the Dining Hall staff serve everyone.
It is safe to say that TASIS embraces this festive day with a tone of seriousness. As proof: the Thanksgiving-themed Family-Style Dinner on November 22, which was a perfect example of how TASIS embodies this celebration. Beautiful autumn colors and red and yellow flowers covered the floor and walls of the De Nobili Dining Hall, and the smell of roasted turkey filled the room. Following a short but heartfelt speech about gratitude from Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff, everyone could be seen sharing stories and emitting warm smiles and laughter. The delicious turkey, cranberry sauce, oven-roasted potatoes, and cinnamon cake were served with kindness and affection—an amazing setup that wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the De Nobili kitchen staff and beloved Maître de Salle Massimo Pappalardo, who said, "It is on evenings like these that one understands the values of life: love and gratefulness." Later in the evening, Italian teacher Mario D'Azzo expressed how he's thankful for "being in contact with youth, which ultimately enables me to stay young." Upon hearing this, numerous students remarked upon how thankful they are for being young and for all the experiences that lay ahead of time. It was truly remarkable how everywhere I turned my eyes, people were chattering and smiling, like my fellow student Dmitrii Skulkov '18, who told me how grateful he feels for "being in love," or how my friend Ethan Fredericksen '18 exclaimed, "I am truly thankful for being at this point in my own life, and simply for being alive." On a more humorous note, History and Economics teacher Keith Isza said with a smiling face, "I'm eternally grateful that A.J. Styles became the WWE heavyweight champion."
Massimo Pappalardo always has a smile and a kind word for students.
On the actual day of Thanksgiving, Mathematics teacher Thomas Manning gave a beautiful and moving speech at assembly. Having lost two of his four cousins, Mr. Manning spoke in front of the whole High School to express his own feelings of gratitude and explain how we as students should be thankful for the endless things we possess. "If I have to look back and see how I was raised, versus how my cousins were raised, I just think about all the opportunities I had and how different they were from those my cousins had," he said. "My parents wanted me to have a better life than they had, and for that I'm very grateful." While attending Outward Bound for Academic Travel this fall, Mr. Manning visited Austria and got a chance to stand on top of a mountain peak that overlooked beautiful scenery. This visit sparked in him a big realization: "None of my cousins will end up in Austria, and I don't think any of them would ever climb a mountain. They never leave Michigan, never take any vacations. I got to do all of that, and it's all thanks to my parents." He spoke with passion and made us realize just how much parents do for their children and how much they provide. Like Mr. Manning said, "It is really easy to want other things, but it is much more difficult to think about what you have. Just think—you have a lot." It was on this note that Mr. Manning ended his touching speech, leaving us all to consider just how much we have and how grateful we should be. Everyone walked away from the assembly feeling grateful, completing the very purpose of Thanksgiving.
Mr. Manning, who is in his first year at TASIS, made a big impression on the student body.