There's nothing like a life insurance policy that will send you overseas, all expenses paid.
Eighteen students from Japan will visit Anne Arundel County this summer through a policy their parents took out at their births. When the youngsters graduate from high school, their families have the option of cashing in the policies or opting for the foreign travel choice.
The teen-agers, all from one high school, will attend Broadneck High School during their visit. Families from Severna Park, Arnold and Annapolis will have the chance to experience Japanese culture first-hand by taking in a student for three weeks.
The students all speak at least rudimentary English.
In return, if the host family has a teen-age son, he will be eligible for a free three-week trip to Japan next year through a return scholarship program. One county student next year will visit the Japanese school and stay with a Japanese family.
The program is sponsored by INTRAX, International Training and Exchange. It is the first year for Japanese students to visit here through INTRAX. In previous years, the program has brought Spanish and French students.
The students will attend Broadneck High School during their July 19 to Aug. 11 visit.
"The families themselves get a chance to know a Japanese person one-on-one," says Ellen O'Neill, a Broadneck High School art teacher who has worked with the program for four years.
The students will go to school four days a week during their visit. The fifth day, they'll have a full-day excursion to Washington and Baltimore. They'll visit their brother school, Gilman School in Roland Park, attend an Orioles game and check out the Science Center.
Host families are welcome to participate in these activities, O'Neill said.
The students will have special afternoon activities after school. They'll go crabbing, swimming, fishing, bowling and shopping.
While in the United States, the Japanese students will also visit Boston and New York City .
"This is one of the best programs we offer," said O'Neill. "They experience a bit of everything."
O'Neill must place the students in area homes by June 1.
Participating families provide food, a place for the visitors to stay and accept them as a member of the family, O'Neill said.
The family must have two parents in the home, although single parents with children are acceptable. Couples without children are also eligible.
Families wishing to sponsor a teen-ager should call O'Neill at 974-0408.