New Americans celebrate Thanksgiving for first time

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Ashaqullah Amir is experiencing an American tradition for the first time.

"I'm from Afghanistan," says Ashaqullah Amir.

"How long have you been here?' asks Patrick Clark?

"I've been here for 28 days," says Amir.

Tuesday he took part in the 20th annual Thanksgiving feast at the International Institute of St. Louis.

"We serve about 7,500 people a year from 75 countries and mostly in our English language classes," says Anna Crosslin, the President and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis.  "Many of the people today who are here are students.  But I would say of the people who are here today probably about 2/3rds of them this is their first Thanksgiving."

Mayor Francis Slay lead a counting contest and these present day pilgrims took part in activities and a meal for their first thanksgiving.

It's worth noting, a time traditionally spent with families is something these new St. Louisans are currently missing.

"It's hard cause I left a part of my family thereand I came here to start a new language, new people, new culture, new traditions," says Rosmeri Landazury.  "It's hard but I like it."

Rosmeri Landazury left her native Cuba and followed her father to St. Louis.

She'll start college courses in January.

For Ashaqullah Amir, who has spent the past five years working as an interpreter, this first thanksgiving isn't easy.

He's trying to get his wife and three month old baby to their new home here in the Midwest.

But he's still thankful on this day.

"I'm really appreciating the United States government," says Amir.  "They're providing me immigrant visa and protecting my life from the insurgents because they're really looking out for me."

And this new community will be looking out for one another this season.

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