The eighth-graders gave a collective gasp when their visito said a pair of jeans in Japan can cost $120, and a McDonald's hamburger that goes for 59 cents here costs $2 there.
East Middle School's Team 6 heard speakers from Japan, the Philippines, India and China for "Asia Day" Tuesday as part of their yearlong study of world cultures and geography.
"They're really mostly interested in what their lives would be like if they would be living in those countries," said John Zeminski, a social studies teacher.
Mr. Zeminski has speakers come to augment his lessons because they have firsthand knowledge of the cultures.
"It gives you an inside look," said Alexis Valliant of Manchester Road, daughter of Jody Valliant.
Alexis said she didn't realize how modern life is in countries such as India and China, and how people there are trying to improve their standard of living.
Bobby Hyle of Barnhart Road was struck by how inexpensive things are in the Philippines. And he was surprised when guest speaker Eve Cullison of Westminster told him people sometimes ride dirt bikes in her native country.
L "They don't seem like the type to ride dirt bikes," he said.
Other speakers were Mariko Saitoh, a Japanese exchange student at Westminster High School; Y. K. Ramaiah, a Timonium physician and native of India; and John Dieterly, who has visited China to support agricultural development through the Heifer Foundation at the New Windsor Service Center.
For lunch, about 90 of the 130 students in Team 6 ordered Chinese food from an area restaurant to eat at their cafeteria. They ate pepper steak, fried rice, spring rolls and got to try out chopsticks.
Not all of the eighth-graders had eaten Chinese food before, Mr. Zeminski said.