When Severna Park residents sit down to eat their holiday dinners today, seven special guests will taste turkey and all the trimmings at an American Thanksgiving for the first time.
The 17- and 18-year-old visitors participating in this U.S. tradition come from six foreign countries: Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Finland and Japan.
While trying to absorb life in the United States, the teen-agers are full-time students at Severna Park High School.
Although they had to leave family and friends for almost a year to pursue their dream of living in the United States, they have adjusted and say they are enjoying life in Maryland.
They all began studying English as children, except one.
The student for whom English is the greatest challenge is 17-year-old Masakazu Yamamoto from Osaka, Japan.
Not beginning to study the language until seventh grade, and trying to understand totally different alphabet characters, has put "Masa" at a disadvantage.
He says that Osaka, where his parents and sister, Toyoko, live, is the second most populous city in Japan, very different from Severna Park and his home with host Joseph Waynard.
In Japan, students attend school six days a week. The biggest similarity between school here and in Japan is the importance of sports, which includevolleyball, tennis, basketball, and the favorite, baseball.
Afterstudying language in college, maybe Spanish or French, Masa hopes topursue a career as a tour guide or plane steward.
Sara Berglund, 17, is the guest of James and Susan Burkhart and their daughter, Shelly, a student at Anne Arundel Community College. Two sons are away.
At home in Sweden, Sara lives with her parents and older sister, Berit, in the small northern town of Norsjo.
Because of her father'swork as a civil engineer, she spent half her time growing up in Africa.
High school life in the states is spirited, says the diminutive Sara. Grades one through nine, called lower, middle and high stadium, seem more serious in Sweden. A young person completes public school at 16 and must decide whether to continue studying or go to work.
College, the equivalent of our high school, is completed by age 20,and from there a student attends four years of university.
Not surprisingly, Sara hopes to work in the travel business.
The biggestdream of Karina Gaya is to see snow for the first time.
This 18-year-old is accustomed to the tropical climate of her hometown of Belem, on the northern coast of Brazil.
Year-round warm weather provides the perfect climate for the brightly-colored birds that inhabit neighborhood trees.
To give us an idea of how many there are, she compares the tropical birds in Belem to the number of squirrels we havein Severna Park.
When vacationing, "Kari" and her family take boat rides along the Amazon River to see monkeys and pink dolphins at play.
Kari was prepared for her new American brother, Sam, 11. She has an 11-year-old brother, Geraldo, at home.
She is the house guest of Samuel Campbell.
In Brazil, students attend high school six days a week.
When she returns home, Kari will go to college, where she hopes to study journalism.
Another Brazilian, Octaviano Andrade, 17, grew up in Sao Paulo, in the southeastern part of the country.
His family includes five brothers and sisters ranging in age from25 to a few months old.
The family of his hosts, Leigh and Ellen Turner, includes three youngsters at home and a son in college and daughter working in Washington.
His favorite Maryland experience hasbeen rowing with the St. John's College crew.
After earning a business degree in college, he plans to join his father's manufacturing and food packaging business.
Eeva Naperoinen, 17, left a picture-perfect home in Lassila, Finland -- a large farm on the crest of a hill, overlooking a river that flows below -- where she and her two sisters grew up.
Since there is no high school in her hometown, she lives five days a week with her 18-year-old sister in an apartment in anearby town where they attend school.
Like other Europeans, the Finnish high school schedule is similar to that of an American college, with class schedules varying from day to day.
When she joined her host family, Gregory and Sirkka Mitchell, Eeva became big sister toTim, 13, and Dan, 15.
Christina Kolb, 18, whose hometown is near Frankfurt, Germany, left behind her parents and brother, Rudiger, andsister, Regina, when she came to the United States.
She is livinghere with Michael and Joyce McGuire and their three children.
English was a requirement from fifth grade on, and she has finished her 13th year of gymnasium, or high school.
In Germany, instead of watching a sports match after school, Christina and her friends go to a cafe or disco.
A watercolor enthusiast, Christina plans to attend college to major in English and art.
We were unable to interview Peter Joergenson from Denmark, who is staying with Michael and Virginia Erwin.