BULLARD --Samuel Idakwo has never celebrated a nationwide holiday.
In Nigeria, where he's from, there are holidays, but none like Thanksgiving.
"It's very diverse. We have different holidays because of the three tribes. The country is more divided than united, so we never have one specific holiday because those three cultures have different holidays at different times," he said.
But this year, Idakwo, a 17-year-old senior at The Brook Hill School, will get to experience an American Thanksgiving.
He said he has perceptions about the holiday because he learned about it through friends here. However, he's ready to find out for himself.
"I'm actually looking forward to it because I want to see how it's spent and how it's different from other holidays we have back home..." Idakwo said, who is one of the Brook Hill students who will stay in the states for the holiday.
"I don't know so much about the holiday, so I just want to see what happens."
Shawn Rhoads, director of residential life and international programs at Brook Hill, said, if boarding students don't have family nearby, Brook Hill finds a host family, either from Brook Hill faculty and staff or another family in the outer Brook Hill community.
He said it's an opportunity for families to get involved with the students and learn more about their cultures, countries and traditions.
"Now, not only do they get to see them in class, but they can have them in homes as guests," Rhoads said. "It's a great opportunity for families. It gives them a chance also to show hospitality associated with Thanksgiving and that motif of celebration, so it's a win-win all the way around."
Like Idakwo, 16-year-old junior Shawn Adams, of Micronesia, will experience her first American Thanksgiving this year.
She said her family celebrates Thanksgiving, but in a different way.
"My parents aren't Americans, so we don't celebrate the history. It's more a day to think about all the blessings God's bestowed and is more focused on God. There's no real history," Miss Adams said.
"We celebrate it like any other get together."
She said she's nervous about her first Thanksgiving here, because she's going to her aunt's house in Fort Worth and doesn't know what's expected. But already it's a holiday that has meaning for her.
"It's really a time where I can, for one day, really just sit down and just count my blessings, which I have a lot of," Miss Adams said. "It's one of the days I just set aside for that -- thanking God for what I have."
Other students are more accustomed to an American Thanksgiving.
Senior Michael Ann, 18, of Seoul, South Korea, is in his third year at Brook Hill.
He said when he came to the U.S., he didn't expect much for Thanksgiving, but heard there would be a lot of food, and people celebrating things they've received.
"There's a similar celebration in Korea, so I didn't expect much, just visiting family and maybe a different experience," Ann said.
In South Korea, he said families gather together and do superstitious things, such as worshiping their ancestors, and thanking them for giving them the foods they have. Traditionally, South Koreans have rice cake for Thanksgiving.
What surprised him most about Thanksgiving in America, he said, is that friends are invited to share a meal with families, rather than it only being family.
For instance, he was received into host family homes for holidays, and enjoys Brook Hill's tradition of providing those homes for boarding students during breaks.
This year, he plans to spend Thanksgiving with a new host family and use part of his holiday break preparing college applications and eating good food.
Senior Sarah Zhou, 19, from Hangzhou, China, also is in her third year at Brook Hill.
Her first year, she spent Thanksgiving at her chemistry teacher's home, and last year, she went to the home of a Chinese family in Houston.
This time around, she plans to spend time with her math teacher and many of their family members.
She said her first Thanksgiving holiday consisted of a lot of food and Christmas preparations.
"That is all new for me. I'd never been through this before. It's kind of interesting," Ms. Zhou said.
"I think it's kind of (a) warm-up (before) Christmas. We (were) setting up the tree and decorating the tree."
Last year, when Ms. Zhou went to the home of a Chinese family in Houston, she said they basically gathered all their friends together, instead of family, and had food.
"They didn't do much about the Christian thing. They just simply eat and (are) with their friends. So (there's) the difference I can see between Chinese here and how Americans celebrate," she said.
This year, she said she's looking forward to being around her teacher's family because she heard it's a huge group, and she's always liked the feeling of a whole family being together.
She said Thanksgiving helps her understand more about American culture because she knows the history of the holiday, and can learn how Americans thank others.
"I just like the name of Thanksgiving..." Ms. Zhou said. It "remind(s) people that we should be thankful for the things we get."
Pictured are international students at The Brook Hill School in Bullard, (from left to right) Samuel Idakwo, of Nigeria, Shawn Adams, of Micronesia, Sarah Zhou, of China, and Michael Ann, of South Korea. The students recently spoke about Thanksgiving in America. (KELLY GOOCH/STAFF)