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


EMERY — As an 18-yr-aged in the previous Yugoslavia in 1972, Stanko Kranjc was hoping to grow his horizons, and maybe enhance his English abilities, as a international exchange pupil from


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

It may possibly not have been the initially location on the intellect of a younger man keen to stop by The us, but for Kranjc, it turned out to be the fantastic position to learn much more about far-absent folks, their economic climate and their social life. And past 7 days, Kranjc returned to the United States for the to start with time in a half-century when he attended his 50th substantial university reunion in Emery.

“It’s challenging to describe,” Kranjc explained to the Mitchell Republic in an job interview. “The inner thoughts are potent. It is remarkable. It does not take place so lots of periods in life that something suddenly turns into plausible.”

Kranjc and a couple of members of his household arrived in the United States very last 7 days, just as he did in 1972 as a member of the

Youth For Comprehension Application,

a application built to give international students a likelihood to get intercultural knowing, study mutual respect, and develop a perception of social responsibility. The experience abroad presents them leadership competencies essential to fulfill the problems and profit from the prospects of a rapidly-changing worldwide local community, in accordance to the program web-site.

Hailing from Slovenia, a member republic of the former place of Yugoslavia, Kranjc claimed he was intrigued by an chance to take a look at the United States, a country that was very well-identified but usually misunderstood overseas due to the numerous sources of facts on the nation.

“The American governing administration preferred to exhibit — primarily with nations with a diverse economic and social process — the American way of dwelling and see how it is below since in individuals various countries there was various data on what was likely on in America,” Kranjc reported. “This was particularly the time when the Iron Curtain in between East and West was the thickest.”

At the time, Yugoslavia operated below a socialist government, but reforms slowly picked up velocity in 1987, and in 1990 the inhabitants voted to kind an independent Slovenia. In 1991, Slovenia became an unbiased place. Yugoslavian army forces tried out to sustain handle of the country for the duration of the 10 Day War, in which the Slovenian Territorial Defense and the Yugoslav People’s Military fought versus each and every other. It lasted from June to July of 1991, when the Brioni Accords had been signed.

But in 1972, Slovenia was however aspect of Yugoslavia, and viewed as a communist place by the West, though the place liked rather fantastic relations with the United States due to its opposition to Stalinist beliefs and the fact it was not considered a Soviet-bloc nation.

The Youth For Comprehending plan was a passageway to a new knowledge, and Kranjc shortly uncovered himself implementing to occur to the United States, a privilege afforded only to 42 pupils in the state. He experienced to go an English exam, but he was quickly permitted and on his way to the United States for a yearlong sojourn into a foreign land.

There was only 1 challenge: he wasn’t guaranteed the place in the United States he would end up. Upon his arrival in The united states, his fellow students fanned out across the place, but he lingered driving when organizers experimented with to put him with a loved ones. It was tricky, as not every spouse and children was enamored with the concept of hosting a college student from a group region.

Fortunately, he uncovered a welcoming household in Emery.

“What I truly desired to do was turn into a journalist, but at university at that time it was extremely difficult. But this The united states invitation arrived along, so for one particular yr I will go to the United States. It’s possible I’m dropping a calendar year (of profession get the job done), but I experienced presently graduated. So I went,” Kranjc reported. “I arrived in this article and I was very fortunate to be with a really excellent, free-wondering relatives.”

That was the Bill and Barbara Hanlon family. They agreed to just take Kranjc in at the very last moment, something he uncovered on the generate to their home from Sioux Falls.

“I have a really large respect for the Hanlon loved ones. The principal of Emery Higher College achieved me at the Sioux Falls airport, and he advised me that just a pair of several hours right before they experienced observed a family members for me. And I was presently here!” Kranjc mentioned. “I will under no circumstances ignore this for what they did at that second. They decided to acknowledge somebody they did not know at all. I felt, with this family, extremely much at property.”

On his arrival, Kranjc established about immersing himself in the life and times of Emery in the early 1970s. Randy Ahrendt, a classmate of Kranjc and an organizer of the 50th reunion of the Course of 1972, claimed it wasn’t extended before Kranjc was on the sidelines of the area soccer area mastering the game and all set to add to the crew.

“I try to remember when he very first came to Emery it was proper prior to university began and football follow was just starting up. And even nevertheless he did not know what it was all about, he wanted to be on the team. He wished to be a aspect of the university local community,” Ahrendt reported. “And he was part of the staff appropriate absent. He did engage in soccer and could kick the ball, so he would be our extra-position kicker. It didn’t consider prolonged for him to really feel comfortable and in good shape in with the guys.”

Kranjc, a friendly, outgoing male now approaching 70 yrs previous, uncovered a welcoming bunch in his new community.

“I identified some pals in Emery, some quite excellent guys, even much better than in Slovenia. In a few of months, I felt totally peaceful,” Kranjc stated.

Kranjc said Emery was a spot contrary to any he had visited just before. It was compact. It was silent. Everybody appeared to know each other. There ended up six church buildings in town. It was various from the a great deal additional urban location he generally called dwelling.

“I came to South Dakota, not New York or Los Angeles or any of these more substantial towns. This is particular even now,” Kranjc reported. “The most significant shock was no person had a fence about their home in Emery. In Yugoslavia you wouldn’t believe about not obtaining 1. No person locked their vehicle. It was open. No criminal offense. There had been 450 folks and six churches. In Yugoslavia we had the Christian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church and they have been fighting every other. And right here there ended up combined (spiritual) marriages. Right here, no one cared about that.”

He put in his times in faculty with his classmates and afterward would perform alongside Hanlon in his shop, once in a while heading out to local farms to help him with repairs, wherever he uncovered everyday living classes in plumbing as properly as fixing air conditioning, a novelty for him coming from central Europe at the time. The Hanlons took him on a journey to the Black Hills, and he obtained to go fishing and pheasant hunting.

It was an knowledge that left an impression on the younger guy.

“It was best,” Kranjc explained.

Kranjc returned to a Yugoslavia that was slowly shifting. The state was opening up to additional private enterprise, and a workforce that experienced been largely used in govt employment had been making the transition to working for entrepreneurs. The war for independence was thankfully small, but it was nevertheless a frightening time.

Amid a changing economic scene, he sooner or later left his career in Slovenia doing work for a huge truck and bus producer and took work around the environment, which include Frankfurt, Vienna and Cairo. As he did, he observed a Slovenia and a Europe that was expanding to appear much more like the United States all the time. Massive American businesses began to do far more business enterprise in his aspect of the planet, and the formation of the European Union established an natural environment that manufactured existence really feel nearer to what he seasoned in the United States.

While the transition could be hard at times, he explained he is content about this, primarily in light-weight of the Russian war in Ukraine. His time in the United States made him recognize the importance of the term “united” in the identify of his adopted region. For centuries, Europe was a fractured continent, but the European Union permitted numerous nations around the world to show a collective entrance in opposition to aggression, something that appeared unachievable just a handful of many years back.

“The United States – already the title usually means the states are united. You have a extensive surface location but with far more or less the very same restrictions. It is element of how The usa commenced. You cannot just declare independence and anything will just be ok. With independence comes responsibility,” Kranjc explained. “It was only a short while ago with the European Union that factors began to modify and get improved. So Europe became a lot more and far more like the United States.”

Extra nations around the world in Europe are noticing their personal value in performing collectively, both for economic and protection factors. Kranjc pointed out that Slovenian Primary Minister Janez Janša was

a person of the 1st to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

in a exhibit of solidarity with the embattled state, anything that would not automatically have happened in decades earlier.

It is all part of learning and escalating as a member of the entire world group, he reported. That was a perspective he himself gained throughout his time in Emery years in the past, he said. The relative security of the United States created him respect peace and bolstered his loathe of war.

“War need to not be a indicates of fixing diplomatic issues. At the end of the war there are heading to be a lot more negotiations and speak, so why are all these people suffering now? We are sending folks to the moon and we will be on Mars sometime and on the other aspect we are preventing like 7,000 many years ago in aged Egypt,” Kranjc stated.

Karnjc returned to Emery very last 7 days to spend time with 22 associates of the 28 dwelling members of his previous large school course. Ahrendt explained it was wonderful to welcome his aged classmate back to his adopted dwelling.

Ahrendt explained it was a enjoyment to welcome Stanko’s spouse and children to the local community, just as it was to welcome him in 1972.

“It was a good, very good weekend. And it was just enjoyable to have Stanko and his spouse and children right here. He has an wonderful family, and they have been so happy and enthusiastic to be right here. They could see what his daily life was like 50 several years back. It was exciting to see their exhilaration,” Ahrendt reported.

Monthly bill Hanlon handed absent throughout Stanko’s time absent, but Kranjc had a prospect to meet with Barbara Hanlon, who now life in a nursing house, and the couple’s 3 daughters. They shared recollections now a 50 percent-century previous but even now fresh new in his head.

He and his household departed Sunday for a check out to the Black Hills, the very first ever for his household and his first excursion there because his initially check out to South Dakota. He has planned some additional time to check out the space, with a minimal time established apart to ideally visit Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It is the likelihood of a lifetime for his family members, he said.

His loved ones is now obtaining that opportunity simply because it was presented to him 50 several years back, when the Hanlons and the neighborhood of Emery opened their doors to the young Yugoslavian and provided him a 12 months of living and learning in smaller-city South Dakota.

It has been a time of reflection and lots of rekindled reminiscences, but like his very first adventure in South Dakota, it’s a single he won’t soon ignore, he claimed.

“It’s the type of sensation which is challenging to put into words. Genuinely,” Kranjc stated. “But I’m truly glad I could make it.”


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Natasha M. McKnight

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