International Students carve pumpkins for the first time


Gabriella Belzer

Mariana Fernandez carves a Jack-o-lantern at the Texas Union patio during a pumpkin carving event sponsored by PALS. PALS provided the opportunity to international students to carve their first pumpkins and celebrate the American tradition of Halloween.

Wynne Davis

International students crafted jack-o’-lanterns for the first time Tuesday at a pumpkin carving event put on by Partnerships to Advance Language Study and Cultural Exchange.

The student exchange program, sponsored by the University’s International Office, focuses on pairing international students with their English-speaking counterparts. The ultimate goal is to spark cross-cultural dialogues and new friendships, according to Perla De La O, exchange coordinator and radio-television-film senior.

De La O said she feels events such as the pumpkin carving expose students to light-hearted American traditions and allow them to practice speaking English. She said the organization’s goal is to give students in the partnership a chance to share an experience and learn more about other cultures.

“I think [pumpkin carving is] fun because a lot of people have never done it before — it’s just fun,” De La O said. “It’s messy, and it’s an American tradition for Halloween, and so lots of these international students are doing it for the very first time, and they’re really enjoying it.”

Many participants embraced the Halloween hocus-pocus, even going so far as to purchase their own tools, De La O said.

Graduate students Yi-Wen Su and Ting-Heng Chou, who are both from Taiwan, worked together to carve their first pumpkin and enjoyed the experience, Chou said.

“We cut first and tried to figure out through the process how to carve it,” Chou said.

Su said she finds owls adorable, so the two carved an owl into one side of the pumpkin. In keeping with American tradition, they worked to depict a classic jack-o’-lantern face on the other side. Other pumpkins at the event sported carvings of witches, spooky and funny faces and more Halloween-themed scenes. 

Su said she is now better prepared to carve pumpkins in the future and wants to make sure her next pumpkin is as pretty and magnificent as she envisions. 

“We spent too much time on [the owl side], and most people finished, and we wanted to do something simple,” Su said. “We would like to do it again sometime … maybe tomorrow or next year.”