Each year, David S. Surrey, Ph.D., professor and chairman of Saint Peter’s College Sociology and Urban Studies Department, opens up his home in Montclair, N.J. to members of the College community to join him and his family and friends as they celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. With the help of multiple individuals and departments, the holiday promises to be a warm and memorable experience for those who attend. In some cases, Dr. Surrey’s celebration introduces students from all over the world to the annual American custom of giving thanks.
Now in its 26th year, Dr. Surrey anticipates approximately 40-50 guests this Thursday. In addition to members of the Saint Peter’s community, several graduate students from The City University of New York (CUNY), where Dr. Surrey’s partner Michelle Fine teaches, will also attend. Some of those who attend come to Saint Peter’s from as far as Nepal and Bulgaria, but several students from as close as Newark, Montclair and West Orange are expected, as well as Saint Peter’s College alumni. Everyone in attendance is given the opportunity to share their own holiday traditions with each other and form relationships that carry over beyond Thanksgiving Day.
Members of the Saint Peter’s community contribute food, even when they do not come for the holiday, and the Department of Athletics, Campus Safety and Student Affairs, also help by lending vans for transportation between the Jersey City campus and his home.
Dr. Surrey continues to open his home partially because it is a long tradition in his own family. His father taught at a small college in Missouri, and they opened up their home on many occasions to students who had no place to go, including on Thanksgiving. Most of all, it is consistent with Saint Peter’s commitment to the Jesuit practice of being men and women for others.