July 5, 2022


Through Education Matters

Memories of Emery: Former exchange student from Slovenia reflects on time in United States – Mitchell Republic

EMERY — As an 18-yr-aged in the former Yugoslavia in 1972, Stanko Kranjc was hoping to extend his horizons, and possibly boost his English capabilities, as a overseas exchange scholar from


What greater spot to do that than in the United States? And what better location to do that in the United States than Emery, South Dakota?

It may not have been the to start with vacation spot on the head of a youthful person keen to go to America, but for Kranjc, it turned out to be the fantastic put to study additional about far-absent individuals, their economy and their social lifestyle. And previous week, Kranjc returned to the United States for the initial time in a fifty percent-century when he attended his 50th superior college reunion in Emery.

“It’s challenging to clarify,” Kranjc instructed the Mitchell Republic in an interview. “The emotions are strong. It is exciting. It does not occur so lots of situations in lifetime that a little something abruptly becomes believable.”

Kranjc and a few users of his family members arrived in the United States past week, just as he did in 1972 as a member of the

Youth For Comprehension System,

a system made to give worldwide college students a chance to attain intercultural comprehension, find out mutual respect, and develop a perception of social accountability. The knowledge overseas gives them leadership competencies vital to fulfill the difficulties and benefit from the opportunities of a rapidly-modifying world local community, in accordance to the program site.

Hailing from Slovenia, a member republic of the former place of Yugoslavia, Kranjc mentioned he was intrigued by an possibility to pay a visit to the United States, a region that was effectively-regarded but usually misunderstood abroad due to the several sources of facts on the place.

“The American governing administration required to clearly show — in particular with countries with a unique economic and social program — the American way of living and see how it is here simply because in these numerous nations there was distinctive information and facts on what was going on in America,” Kranjc mentioned. “This was precisely the time when the Iron Curtain among East and West was the thickest.”

At the time, Yugoslavia operated beneath a socialist authorities, but reforms slowly but surely picked up velocity in 1987, and in 1990 the inhabitants voted to type an impartial Slovenia. In 1991, Slovenia became an independent nation. Yugoslavian armed service forces tried out to manage manage of the place all through the Ten Day War, in which the Slovenian Territorial Defense and the Yugoslav People’s Military fought from each and every other. It lasted from June to July of 1991, when the Brioni Accords ended up signed.

But in 1972, Slovenia was continue to part of Yugoslavia, and viewed as a communist region by the West, however the state enjoyed comparatively excellent relations with the United States due to its opposition to Stalinist beliefs and the actuality it was not regarded as a Soviet-bloc state.

The Youth For Comprehension application was a passageway to a new knowledge, and Kranjc before long discovered himself applying to appear to the United States, a privilege afforded only to 42 pupils in the country. He experienced to move an English examination, but he was quickly authorized and on his way to the United States for a yearlong sojourn into a overseas land.

There was only 1 dilemma: he wasn’t guaranteed the place in the United States he would conclusion up. On his arrival in The united states, his fellow learners fanned out throughout the state, but he lingered behind while organizers tried to spot him with a family members. It was tricky, as not each household was enamored with the thought of web hosting a student from a neighborhood region.

Thankfully, he uncovered a welcoming family in Emery.

“What I genuinely needed to do was turn into a journalist, but at university at that time it was extremely hard. But this The usa invitation arrived along, so for just one calendar year I will go to the United States. Maybe I’m getting rid of a calendar year (of occupation perform), but I had previously graduated. So I went,” Kranjc claimed. “I came listed here and I was incredibly lucky to be with a definitely great, cost-free-considering family members.”

That was the Bill and Barbara Hanlon spouse and children. They agreed to get Kranjc in at the last moment, anything he learned on the push to their dwelling from Sioux Falls.

“I have a quite large regard for the Hanlon household. The principal of Emery High Faculty fulfilled me at the Sioux Falls airport, and he informed me that just a couple of hours prior to they experienced observed a household for me. And I was presently right here!” Kranjc claimed. “I will by no means ignore this for what they did at that instant. They made a decision to acknowledge another person they did not know at all. I felt, with this family members, very a lot at house.”

Upon his arrival, Kranjc established about immersing himself in the everyday living and instances of Emery in the early 1970s. Randy Ahrendt, a classmate of Kranjc and an organizer of the 50th reunion of the Course of 1972, stated it was not extensive before Kranjc was on the sidelines of the area soccer industry studying the activity and completely ready to lead to the workforce.

“I bear in mind when he initial came to Emery it was ideal before university started out and football apply was just beginning. And even although he didn’t know what it was all about, he required to be on the group. He needed to be a portion of the college neighborhood,” Ahrendt reported. “And he was section of the workforce proper away. He did engage in soccer and could kick the ball, so he would be our excess-position kicker. It did not just take lengthy for him to really feel cozy and in shape in with the men.”

Kranjc, a friendly, outgoing gentleman now approaching 70 decades old, uncovered a welcoming bunch in his new community.

“I discovered some buddies in Emery, some incredibly fantastic guys, even much better than in Slovenia. In a pair of months, I felt totally comfortable,” Kranjc explained.

Kranjc stated Emery was a position in contrast to any he had frequented prior to. It was modest. It was quiet. Every person seemed to know every single other. There ended up six church buildings in city. It was diverse from the much far more city location he commonly termed residence.

“I arrived to South Dakota, not New York or Los Angeles or any of those people larger metropolitan areas. This is specific even now,” Kranjc reported. “The biggest surprise was no one had a fence about their household in Emery. In Yugoslavia you would not think about not owning a person. Nobody locked their auto. It was open. No criminal offense. There were being 450 persons and 6 churches. In Yugoslavia we experienced the Christian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church and they ended up combating every other. And right here there were being mixed (religious) marriages. Here, no person cared about that.”

He spent his times in faculty with his classmates and afterward would do the job along with Hanlon in his retailer, from time to time heading out to regional farms to support him with repairs, in which he uncovered lifetime lessons in plumbing as effectively as fixing air conditioning, a novelty for him coming from central Europe at the time. The Hanlons took him on a excursion to the Black Hills, and he got to go fishing and pheasant looking.

It was an encounter that remaining an perception on the youthful man.

“It was excellent,” Kranjc said.

Kranjc returned to a Yugoslavia that was slowly and gradually changing. The nation was opening up to additional non-public organization, and a workforce that experienced been primarily utilized in govt work had been earning the transition to operating for entrepreneurs. The war for independence was fortunately brief, but it was still a frightening time.

Amid a switching economic scene, he finally left his work in Slovenia doing the job for a massive truck and bus maker and took careers all over the planet, together with Frankfurt, Vienna and Cairo. As he did, he saw a Slovenia and a Europe that was developing to search much more like the United States all the time. Huge American organizations started to do additional business in his component of the earth, and the development of the European Union developed an environment that created daily life come to feel nearer to what he knowledgeable in the United States.

While the changeover could be challenging at situations, he reported he is content about this, specially in mild of the Russian war in Ukraine. His time in the United States made him realize the worth of the phrase “united” in the title of his adopted country. For generations, Europe was a fractured continent, but the European Union authorized several nations around the world to display a collective front in opposition to aggression, something that seemed not possible just a number of decades in the past.

“The United States – presently the identify implies the states are united. You have a wide area spot but with far more or significantly less the same laws. It is section of how The united states began. You can’t just declare independence and every little thing will just be ok. With independence arrives obligation,” Kranjc claimed. “It was only not long ago with the European Union that things started to improve and get improved. So Europe turned additional and a lot more like the United States.”

Much more nations in Europe are noticing their very own value in performing with each other, both of those for financial and protection reasons. Kranjc noted that Slovenian Key Minister Janez Janša was

1 of the initial to stop by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

in a demonstrate of solidarity with the embattled country, a little something that would not necessarily have transpired in decades past.

It is all portion of finding out and developing as a member of the environment local community, he said. That was a point of view he himself obtained throughout his time in Emery yrs ago, he reported. The relative balance of the United States produced him value peace and strengthened his loathe of war.

“War should really not be a suggests of fixing diplomatic difficulties. At the conclude of the war there are heading to be extra negotiations and discuss, so why are all these individuals struggling now? We are sending people to the moon and we will be on Mars someday and on the other side we are fighting like 7,000 yrs in the past in previous Egypt,” Kranjc said.

Karnjc returned to Emery very last 7 days to invest time with 22 users of the 28 dwelling customers of his outdated substantial school course. Ahrendt stated it was fantastic to welcome his previous classmate again to his adopted household.

Ahrendt stated it was a enjoyment to welcome Stanko’s household to the neighborhood, just as it was to welcome him in 1972.

“It was a pleasant, superior weekend. And it was just enjoyment to have Stanko and his relatives in this article. He has an amazing family, and they were being so joyful and enthusiastic to be below. They could see what his lifestyle was like 50 many years in the past. It was enjoyable to see their enjoyment,” Ahrendt reported.

Monthly bill Hanlon handed away during Stanko’s time absent, but Kranjc experienced a probability to satisfy with Barbara Hanlon, who now lives in a nursing residence, and the couple’s a few daughters. They shared recollections now a 50 percent-century aged but still new in his head.

He and his family members departed Sunday for a pay a visit to to the Black Hills, the initial ever for his spouse and children and his initial vacation there given that his initial visit to South Dakota. He has prepared some excess time to explore the space, with a minor time established apart to with any luck , go to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It’s the probability of a lifetime for his family members, he mentioned.

His household is now obtaining that possibility mainly because it was provided to him 50 yrs back, when the Hanlons and the local community of Emery opened their doors to the younger Yugoslavian and available him a year of residing and learning in small-town South Dakota.

It has been a time of reflection and quite a few rekindled recollections, but like his initial journey in South Dakota, it truly is one particular he would not before long ignore, he claimed.

“It’s the form of feeling that is tough to put into phrases. Genuinely,” Kranjc explained. “But I’m actually glad I could make it.”