Exchange Students, Part 4
This week’s story of the exchange students at Langdon High School begins with the fall of 1997 and the 31st exchange student whose visit to Langdon could be tracked through annuals, interviews and visiting with his host parents. There could have been additional exchange students we missed who spent time in the Langdon schools over the 60-year period, but without their names and more information we could not locate them. As it happens, the challenge to track down the stories of exchange students began after hearing Henrik’s host parents had recently returned from attending his wedding in Norway a few weeks ago.
Exchange student #31, Henrik Hanselmann came from Kristiansond, Norway, in the fall of 1997 and made his home with Terry and Janet Jacobson and family. The spelling of his last name is taken from a newspaper interview when he first arrived. We found at least four different spellings of his name in the annual and other clippings. Many remembered Henrik, and all agreed on the spelling of his first name. When asked what he was looking forward to the fall he arrived, Henrik told the reporter he wanted to play hockey because it would allow him to be on a team. Sports in Norway were not part of the school curriculum so he was anxious to learn a team sport while in America. He got his wish although it might not have been the sport he first envisioned. During his year in our community Henrik tried out many things that he might not have thought about previously. For example, Janet mentioned locating a second-hand band instrument for him, and in the annual he is pictured in both the jazz band and State band contest photo holding a clarinet. Hockey pictures were not included, but he made the Langdon school baseball team. Henrik knew very little about baseball before coming here but reportedly loved the sport. Back in Norway he started a baseball team in his home community which went on to represent Norway at a European tournament. While in Langdon he signed up for a class in photography. That interest led to one of his current businesses today – a photography studio. After his year in our area Henrik had two years of schooling in Norway to complete before college and may also have had a year of required military training. Henrik has returned to visit the Jacobsons over the years, and this summer, his host family, who also have Norwegian roots, were able to attend his wedding and see the country in person.
32. 1997-98 also brought Christian Terrazas Gonzales to Langdon from Mexico City, Mexico. His host for the year was James Klein. The annual verified that information and mentioned that he participated in speech. That year happened to be one when computers were popular with high school students but relatively new in the schools. Keyboarding classes had begun, and the teenagers took to the new machines in a hurry and passed on their knowledge to anyone they saw sitting in front of a monitor. At that time, I was working at the courthouse with a computer but no typewriter in the office and as a result became a captive audience for students who would drop by and give advice. Christian was one of those visitors.
33. 1998-99 brought Marcus Boller from Hamburg, Germany, to Langdon High School. Marcus also lived with James Klein and may have come with the same program as Christian Terrazas the year before. Marcus ran in cross county, played boys basketball and did stat work for the track program. James Klein is no longer in Langdon, but we found the information about Marcus in the 1999 annual while tracing another exchange student.
34. Also arriving for the 1998-99 school year was Berengere Baralle, better known as Baby, from Rognes, France. Her host family was Marnie Brooks, and Baby became one of the best remembered exchange students- both for her personality and the fact that she participated in almost everything: basketball, volleyball, track, drama, and other activities. In a well-remembered production by the drama club, Baby played the part of the lovely French maid (with a perfect accent we are told) dealing with grumpy old men in wheelchairs. She returned later to participate in the wedding of her host when Marnie married Dean Steinwand and is remembered as being here when one of their children was small telling those who questioned her that she “came to see my leetle brother!” There may also have been other visits, and some of her host family have visited her in France. Baby keeps up with family and friends who shared stories of her living and working in Paris where she zipped around the city on her moped. Then came a special birthday celebration orchestrated by her parents when her good friend, Anna Jacobson, arrived to celebrate with them as a surprise guest. Baby went on to college in France, is now married, and sends frequent Facebook notes and pictures to family and friends in North Dakota.
35. 2000-2001 brought two well-remembered exchange students to Langdon. Chika Matsumoto came from Sapporo, Japan.Yes, the same city on the island of Hokkaida that hosted the Winter Olympics in the 1970s. Her host family in Langdon was Jim and Theresa Belanus and their three daughters. Chika came with the AYUSA (a year in the USA) program working with St. Alphonsus teacher Julie Reis Erickson who represented that program in Langdon. Both Chika and Hy-Rim Im, who was also in Langdon that year, were classed as Juniors at LHS as they would need to complete schooling when they returned home. Chika played volleyball, ran cross country and did quite a lot of Japanese crafts. It was mentioned that one of the exchange students painted a beautiful backdrop for the prom which both Chika and Hy-Rim attended, and friends thought the artist might have been Chika. After returning to Japan she sent pictures of her “coming of age day” and a kimono ceremony, both Japanese traditions. In letters, she wrote about working for a company that helped Americans become acclimated to living in Japan and found that one of her co-workers was from Devils Lake – so even though the United States is quite large, she could say “I’ve been there.” Chika came back at least once to visit, but the Belanus family mentioned no news from her for several years. Sapporo had been mentioned as a possible Olympic host at a more recent date, but around that time an earth-quake created major damage both in the general area and to a nearby nuclear reactor. Her host family has not heard from her since that time.
36. Hy Rim Im from Seoul, South Korea, came in the fall of 2000 and made her home with host family of Ron and Patricia Barta. Most who knew Hy-Rim during her year in Langdon remember her fondly and often with smiles. The Barta family was active in St. Alponsus Church, and like any host family would do, took her to church with them. The service seemed very different to Hy-Rim who was a proud and apparently active member of the large Korean Methodist Church. She told them- “Next week we will be Methodist!” Katie Barta brought her to Langdon United Methodist that Sunday, and Hy-Rim rarely missed a service or activity after that. The congregation loved her. Each week she arrived with new questions or new things she had discovered. She wanted to try everything. Running in cross country, she met not only Langdon students but others from the area. Friends helped her become acquainted with Youth Fellowship at the district and conference level. Always interested in music, one day she asked about a moonlight song she had heard another teenager play and wanted to learn. Several songs came to mind. Could she sing it? No, it has no words, but she sat down at the piano and with no music in front of her whipped off what might have been the first two pages of “Moonlight Sonata.” Another Sunday, she was all excited: “I am in band. I will play tambourine! Do you know Mr. Kram?” Among other things, we learned that when Curt Kram opened the door of the band room to Hy-Rim, he also flew to the top of her hero list, if such existed. Once inside the band room she saw another instrument which she “could not spell in English”. That instrument turned out to be a xylophone, and she played it all the way to music festivals in the spring. She loved being in the audience at the piano recitals cheering for her host sisters, Katie and Erin.
Hy Rim played for our church and other events so was asked to play for a meeting of the Dakotas Conference in Bismarck in early June. This was a large gathering of church people from North and South Dakota. Both Judy Downs and I had some duties there and wanting to be with friends at the motel, Hy-Rim shared our room. For Judy and I, it became a conference session for the memory books because Hy-Rim was interested in everything, and we totally enjoyed being with her. Langdon friends were sad to see her leave when the time came to return to Korea. She sent e-mails for a time and then wrote that she could not remember how to write in English. Today she could write in Korean, and the computer would translate the message.
Paging through out-of-order annuals, phoning people who did not know me, and digging into old newspapers has been an interesting project, but I found only one mention of exchange students between 2001 and the present. But don’t give up: there has been one more.
37. In 2017 Daniela Danshyna from Kharkiv in the Ukraine came to Langdon as an exchange student. Her host family was Misty Berg. How do you trace a student whose host family has moved away? To begin with, I had no last name for this student (found that on a prom picture!) and had to check with her friends to be sure it was the right name. One of her friends remembered the population of her hometown being almost three times the population of North Dakota and that the first letter of the town is silent. With those clues, an atlas provided her hometown. In fact, two atlases provided two spellings. We took the one that is the most recent due to the Ukraine now being independent from Russia and having only a few cities with that large population. Daniela was in cross country, on the cheerleading squad and considered her year of studying in America to be a fun experience. Friends told us Langdon was a bit chillier last winter than the part of the Ukraine where she lives, but she adjusted quite well, had no big problems with speaking English or participating in class. She was classed as a Junior and would need more schooling in the Ukraine to graduate. She liked American food and put on weight while living here. One detail that was interesting was that she did not go out for choir but liked to sing (in Ukrainian) songs she did not translate. The first classmate I asked about her pulled out her cell phone and sent her a message ,so yes, she does keep in touch with friends at Langdon. Daniella returned to the Ukraine at the end of the school year.