The visit includes trips to the Burbank Historical Museum, City
Council meeting, Santa Monica Pier, Warner Bros. and Disney Studios,
Griffith Park, J. Paul Getty Museum and UCLA campus.
Ryo Nagaku, 13, was on her first trip outside Japan, and marveled
at the skyscrapers and trees nearly twice the size of those in her
Enlarging her view of the world and making friends were Nagaku's
two reasons for visiting Burbank.
She is well on her way, after being welcomed into the home of her
host family, the Christoffersens.
"I think it's a great experience, to get along with people from
other countries," 13-year-old Natasha Christoffersen said. In
addition, she gets to share her home with a sister during the
two-week visit. Her siblings are all boys, 15 to 18.
All five children were born in Russia and adopted by Karen
Christoffersen, 51, and her husband John Capellaro, 66, who have
hosted numerous exchange students.
"It's funny to try to communicate," Yuri Christoffersen, 18, said.
But by using flash cards and dictionaries, drawing pictures and
keeping a sense of humor, the cross-cultural communication works, he
The exchanges have helped her children realize "that there's a lot
more in this world than just this country," Karen Christoffersen
One of the most difficult moments is when the family bids its new
"It's very emotional," she said.