From champagne to fireworks, welcoming the new year in the U.S. is mostly about partying with friends. In Japan, though, New Year's Day is something similar to Thanksgiving where many families gather for a special meal.
During the second such holiday in Fukushima after a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown, people who live near the plant are still facing the consequences of the disaster.
Akemi Maeshima, a retiree from Rockville, could not bear watching the devastation in her home country. She packed her bags and left Montgomery County, the place she has called home for the past 10 years.
"I really wanted to help," she says. "I was looking for volunteering opportunities, but I could not find many requests for volunteers from the U.S., so I decided to go in as an individual."