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Foreign-born athletes celebrate U.S. Christmas

December 20, 2012

 

Sophomore forward Stojan Gjuroski and junior guard Jelena Vucinic and look forward to their Christmas break in America. – Photo by Derek J. Amaya

CHAD MERRITT
Multimedia Editor

 

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the Thomas Assembly Center, the players were dreaming of the places they’d be at.

 

Home is only a few hours away for many Louisiana Tech basketball players, but for foreign born players, home can be half a world away.

 

Sophomore forward Stojan Gjuroski is from Gostivar, Macedonia, a country seven hours ahead of Ruston and more than 5,800 miles away from Tech.

 

With Christmas falling during the middle of basketball season, the players only get a few days off for their Christmas holiday, which is not nearly enough time to travel around the world to spend time with their family.

 

“My ideal Christmas would have my whole family coming to Louisiana,” Gjuroski said.

 

Although he will not be with his family, Gjuroski will still celebrate Christmas with one of his teammates in Gonzales.

 

One of the differences for him though is not having a white Christmas. Louisiana does not often offer the snow which Macedonia has to offer during the winter.

 

Another difference for Gjuroski is the time he celebrates Christmas in America.

 

“We are Christian Orthodox in Macedonia, so we celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 instead of Dec. 25,” Gjuroski said. “But we celebrate the same way. Lots of shopping, family, food and gifts.”

 

Gjuroski is not the only foreign-born Tech basketball player who will celebrate Christmas in America.

 

Junior guard Jelena Vucinic is going to spend this Christmas in Houston with some of her friends instead of her hometown of Nelson, New Zealand.

 

Although it will not be with her family like she would prefer, she will still take advantage of her break from school and basketball.

 

Shopping and a pedicure are among the activities she said she will enjoy during her holiday.

 

One of the biggest differences for Vucinic going from a New Zealand Christmas to an American one is the temperature.

 

“Christmas is during summer in New Zealand so we wear shorts and T-shirts and have barbecues on Christmas,” she said. “There is more to do since it’s warmer for our Christmas.”

 

Although the climate and timing is different, Christmas is still celebrated the same way for Gjuroski and Vucinic in America.

 

They both enjoy the time to relax and enjoy themselves.

 

Although he does not really like presents, the best gift Gjuroski said he can receive this Christmas is to stay healthy throughout the remainder of the season.

 

Vucinic said if she could have one gift, anything she wanted, she would get a convertible jeep for Christmas.

 

“I don’t have a car in America, so that would be one thing I would love to have,” she said.

 

While it is not a new car, the best gift Vucinic said she has ever received for Christmas was her first cell phone, a blue Nokia phone which she and her brother played Snake on for hours at a time.

 

Gjuroski said the best gift he ever received for Christmas was a remote control helicopter his brother gave him when he was 9.

 

“My brother got me this big remote control helicopter that I loved,” he said. “We had so much fun with it. We had it until just a few years ago.”

 

The one gift both Gjuroski and Vucinic could both agree to be the most important would be to celebrate Christmas with their family. And although they both know this will not happen this Christmas, they said they are sure to enjoy their break to the fullest.

 

You’ll hear them both say as they get out of Ruston’s sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

Email comments to cam059@latech.edu.

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