International students enjoy Christmas dinner

Festive friends: The international students enjoying Christmas and below, Lee MacNeal
Festive friends: The international students enjoying Christmas and below, Lee MacNeal
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For UClan’s international students, Christmas away from home can be a lonely time.

But this year, students who were staying in Preston had their very own Christmas dinner at the university’s Student Union, thanks to the efforts of the SU President, Lee Macneal and an army of volunteers.

Photo Neil Cross'Lee Macneall has made a video as part of his studies which is being adopted by MacMillan

Photo Neil Cross'Lee Macneall has made a video as part of his studies which is being adopted by MacMillan

The idea came to Lee last month when he realised that he would also be spending the festive period alone following the death of his mum, Beryl, in August.

The 25-year-old said: “About 42 people, including the volunteers, were all given a Christmas dinner.

“It was mainly people who don’t have family here or those who couldn’t afford to get home.

“It is the first year that we have done it and, hopefully, it will be a tradition that will carry on with the next President.”

Each of the students who attended the festivities were celebrating their first Christmas away from home and included students from across the world originating from the USA, China, India and Germany.

Lee said: “We had a really traditional British Christmas - but without the alcohol so there was no rowing!

“We ate lunch, watched the Queen’s speech, had a chill out are where people could play Xbox and Playstation and we watched Christmas films like Elf and Frozen.

“We even had a games are where people were playing Jenga and different board games.”

Lee started to organise the special event back in November, securing donations so that the students would have gifts to open and making sure that all dietary requirements were taken care of.

He said: “I’m really glad I did it, although I’ve been that busy I don’t actually feel like I’ve had a Christmas.

“Alot of friendships have been created just by having the students come down for that one event and it really brought the community together and the feedback from everybody who came has just been great - they’ve all said it was just what the campus needed.

“One Chinese student even gave me a card that she had written to me saying ‘thank you for inviting me, this is my first Christmas in the UK and although I feel homesick you have made me very welcome’.

“That made my day.”