Fairfield County families to host international guests for Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, Fairfield County will host guests from the international community in New York. Each year, the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut, also known as the International Visitors Committee of CT, invites local families to open their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday to United Nations staff and diplomats, State Department sponsored visitors, Fulbright Scholars and other international students.

In 2002, a couple in Westport agreed to host a South Korean couple from the United Nations community for a Sunday dinner. The meal was a success, and the visitors came back several times and enjoyed a golf outing with their American hosts. Later, the Westporters were delighted to see that their friend, South Korean Ambassador Ban Ki-Moon, had been named the Secretary General of the United Nations.

While this experience of hosting a future world leader was unique, the Committee does try to match the interests of the hosts with those of the guests. A few years ago, the delegation from Vietnam sent six high ranking guests who were hosted by Westporters who had visited Vietnam and had children studying there. The dinner was an enormous success.

The overwhelming response from host families and guests has been positive. While hosts are advised of any dietary constraints or allergies, most guests are willing to try everything. 

A typical Thanksgiving hosting works like this: hosts and guests are given each other’s names and contact information, and usually arrangements are made through email and/or telephone to ensure clear communication. Guests frequently arrive by the 11:16 a.m. train from New York at the Westport Train Station or slightly earlier or later times depending on the town visited (although often our hosts make alternate arrangements). After that, the rest of the day is determined by the host family. Some visitors will go for a walk on the beach. Others learn touch football on the lawn or the intricacies of NFL football on television. Some hosts have taken their guests to help out in soup kitchens. There is no typical hosting experience, just the fascination of strangers meeting and becoming friends over a fine meal. The guests return home at a mutually convenient time.

The United Nations Association and International Visitors Committee sponsors special events with noted speakers, including UN Day and the annual jUNe Day special event for UN delegates and staff.

The United Nations Association meets the first Wednesday of the month in Westport Town Hall, Room 201. For more information, contact Bill Hass at 203-454-7685.

To host an event this Thanksgiving or in the future, contact the committee at hassbj@aol.com or call Bill or Joan Hass at 203-454-7685.