TAMU-CC International Students Celebrate Their Holidays Within the Community


Amine Khodja (left) is a senior electrical engineering international student, and celebrates Ramadan as part of his culture growing up in Algeria. Photo by Jonathan Garcia

Jonathan Garcia, Reporter

Celebrating the holidays means getting ready for Christmas, but there are some who take the time to celebrate other holidays around the world.

While everyone else is celebrating their regular holiday festivities of decorating trees, building gingerbread houses, and singing Christmas carols, many international students don’t celebrate Santa’s big holiday. 

Some African-American cultures celebrate Kwanzaa for 7 days, while Jewish people celebrate the 8 days of Hanukkah. With many diverse groups and cultures here in the United States, it’s natural to have different holidays that are common in America or by religion. 

Meenakshi Rao, a graduate student majoring in computer science, is a Hindu growing up in India. She doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but rather some traditional Indian holidays, one of which was celebrated on campus.

“India has many cultures with Hindu being one of them, and one of the most prominent of them,” said Rao, “We celebrate Diwali, we celebrated the festival by lighting up the diyas or lights basically, and we had Indian food and performances.” 

Diwali was celebrated on campus and is put together by the Office of International Education every year. But, Rao emphasizes that the festival is much more than delicious food and great performances. 

“We usually celebrate it by lighting up because it is basically a meaning of triumphing of good over evil,” Rao said. 

The celebration of Diwali takes place on the day of the new moon, which was on Oct. 24 this year, and occurs when the sky is at its darkest, so the celebration revolves around the light and fireworks that are set off to ward off evil spirits. 

Although there are some differences in celebrating Diwali at TAMU-CC, Rao feels that the campus has done a great job of having the festival feel like she was at home. 

“The Indian community is very huge over here,” Rao said, “It’s definitely better than not having anything, we celebrated it at least for a bit.” 

While attending school, being away from the family they celebrate this holiday with is tough. Rao emphasizes that the closeness within the community helped to make it feel like they were a family altogether. 

Senior electrical engineering major, Amine Khodja, another international student from Algeria, a country in the upper region of Africa, is attending TAMU-CC that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but rather Ramadan, a monthly Muslim holiday on the Islamic calendar. 

“It is a holy month in the Islamic calendar,” Khodja said, “We spend this time, this month to pray to not only connect with God, but to also connect with the community.” 

Khodja adds that some of the ways that they use this holiday are to take some time off of school to volunteer at local food banks, organize events, and give back to people who need it the most. 

In addition to a month of praying, Ramadan also requires fasting between 11-16 hours, depending on the time of year, for a period of around 29-30 days, as stated by Ing.org. A fast requires not eating or drinking, or no arguments with the family. The goal of all of this is to gain a greater God-consciousness, known as taqwa, which is a state of awareness for God.

The holiday for Khodja is more than just prayers, as it is seen as a way to get cleansed spiritually and a time to reflect. 

“It is like a cleaning process.  You are supposed to rethink everything you did the whole year and give yourself some time to approve and find some common ground with your family,” Khodja said. 

The year of 2023 will see Ramadan start on March 22 all the way through April 21, lasting roughly about a month. Khodja is looking forward to another year of giving back and celebrating his culture. 

Although not everyone celebrates the same holidays as the other, one thing that unites everyone this season is the fact that many can share their heritage with the other while giving them a taste of their culture and leave memories that won’t be forgotten. 




Diwali info:



Ramadan facts: