Foreign exchange students celebrate first Thanksgiving in Holmen

For some, this will be their first Thanksgiving in America, including a pair of exchange students living in Holmen. They’re joining a tradition that dates back to 1621.

Since husbands James and Tage Bushman welcomed two exchange students into their home a few months ago, the experience has been filled with firsts.

“I’m so glad that I’m here. Everything is so new for me,” said Kacper Starzynski, an exchange student from Poland.

For both Starzynski and Simone Lorenzoni, it’s their first time in America.

“When there was the check-in for the passport and for the visa, oh my goodness,” said Lorenzoni, an exchange student from Italy.

They had their first day of class at Holmen High School.

“That’s the first day of school walking in,” said Tage Bushman, as he points to a photo of the moment.

Lorenzoni played American football for the first time.

“The people with me asked a lot about my country,” Lorenzoni said.

But this will be their first time celebrating Thanksgiving.

“We just have normal days in Poland during your Thanksgiving,” Starzynski said.

“It’s more for American people this celebration. For the other countries, it is the same kind of [any] other day,” Lorenzoni said.

It’s not that they haven’t heard about the holiday. They’ve seen it depicted in movies or shown on the news.

“So Polish media always shows like [the] U.S. President pardon [the] turkey,” Starzynski said.

“I know that there is a lot of food. And there is a lot of turkey,” Lorenzoni said.

They’ve got all the basics.

“We’ve prepared stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes,” Starzynski said.

But it’s not just about the meal, it’s about who you’re passing the plate to. It’s about getting a handmade apron from James’s grandma Glenna. It’s about learning how to roll out the croissants with James’s mom Lori. But perhaps the most important part, it’s about spending time with those you’re thankful for.

“I meet other friends, I meet other people that [are] so nice [to] me and for [accepting] me in this family,” Lorenzoni said.

“I’m excited to spend this Thanksgiving with family,” Starzynski said.

While this might not be their native country, it’s home for the holiday.

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