With the holiday season gearing up, Plattsburgh State’s international students still find time to celebrate despite various cultural upbringings.

Chengxu Ye, a Plattsburgh State accounting major, came to the United States from Ningbo, China, with classmates from her native college, Zhejiang Wanli University.

Soon after her excursion to New York City, she and her classmates arrived in Plattsburgh.

As far as the holiday season is concerned, Christmas is common in China. Ye said that the main focus of the holiday is shopping.

Although the holiday season revolves around religion, Ye said that because she is non-denominational, she does not participate in Chinese religious traditions. However, Ye said there are temples in China where people can go to pray.

“People have a high standard of living so that I can come to the U.S.A.,” Ye said.

Ye looks forward to celebrating the holidays in America for the first time.

Environmental Science Major Maria Awan hails from Abbottabad, Pakistan. She came to PSUC as a recipient of the Global Undergraduate Scholarship, funded by the U.S. Department of State.

The scholarship was extended to 130, but these students were chosen out of a pool of 7,000.

Pakistan is primarily a Muslim nation in the Middle East, so there is one major holiday that Muslims celebrate: Eid.
Eid is split up into two seasons: Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha.

Eid-al-Fitr, the first Eid of the year, “marks the end of the month of Ramadan … The entire community comes together for special prayers and to congratulate each other. The rest of the day is typically spent visiting friends and family, enjoying time together,” according to whatiseid.com, designed to inform those unfamilar with Islamic traditions.

Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Adha in memory of a prophet. The man in the household buys an animal and slaughters it, or pays someone to do that for him. The family then distributes the meat among the poor. Once the poor have their share, the family distributes it among themselves.

“It’s the one day where everyone gets food,” Awan said.

There is a tolerance for many cultures in Pakistan. “Celebrating Christmas is not considered wrong. Doing anything — anything — that makes others smile is considered ‘good Islam.’”

Anthropology Major Arian Canete is from Málaga, Spain, and he celebrates Christmas there. While he said Spain is a mostly Catholic nation, Canete said the country is “very liberal in terms of gender equality and homosexuality.”

Canete said Europe and North America are similar, not only in their diversity.

In Spain, he celebrates the Catholic holiday of Epiphany. Laughing, Canete said he gets more presents after Christmas because Epiphany takes place on Jan. 4 next year.

Aamer Khan, a PSUC computer science major, was born in Albany. He immigrated to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a child because his father found a job overseas with General Electric. Khan is of Pakistani descent.

Khan and his family came to Clifton Park, where he attended middle school. He then attended high school in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Khan said that his compound — private Saudi Arabian neighborhood settings — had a Christmas tree.

“In Saudi Arabia, I think Christmas is becoming a trend,” Khan said. He also said that Jesus is a big part of Islam, considered to be a messenger or prophet.

“People are the same everywhere,” Khan said, smiling. “Even though everyone has differences, we are closer to each other than we may think.”

Email Tim Lyman at timothy.lyman@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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