In 1984, Coral Lalanda of Aranjuez Spain was a foreign exchange student at Morton High School.
“I remember Coral running into the house panicked, saying, ‘A girl told me to hang on! Where do I hang on?’” laughed Dorothy Brazil, Lalanda’s host mom.
“When I learned English, I learned it with a British accent,” Lalanda said. “When I came here I was frustrated. I couldn’t understand something as simple as ‘water.’”
Things improved quickly, so much that Lalanda was back at Jim and Dorothy Brazil’s rural Morton farm earlier this month — this time with her own children.
“I have such good memories. The people are so nice here. I made so many friends here. I wanted my children to know the places I’ve lived,” Lalanda said.
Lalanda was a member of the last class to graduate from Morton High School, and did attend a few classes at Redwood Falls High School before it merged with Morton.
“I did go to the prom in Redwood Falls,” she pointed out.
Although the people haven’t changed, Lalanda was startled by some of the area’s new features.
“Jackpot Junction is so huge,” she said, just before heading out with her children for a tour of Redwood Valley High School.
What made the biggest impression on her time here?
“Snow! Where I live, there is never any snow. When I looked out my window and the fields were white, I just loved it,” she said.
Lalanda did learn some helpful skills during her year in rural Morton.
“I learned to water ski here,” she said, “and Jim still has the same old pickup he taught me to drive in out in the fields.”
During three years of college training to be a veterinarian, Lalanda spent her summers as a hostess for Iberia Airlines, a Spanish company. Mostly she traveled to South America, but the rest of the world awaited.
“When I was in my 20s, it so much more fun to travel the world,” she said of the job she has to this day.
“I now live in a city of 50,000 people. It’s so quiet here, I love the change. Jim taught me a lot about fields, about corn, about looking up at the sky to watch the weather,” she said.
“In Aranjuez, there are hills everywhere. Here it’s so flat you can almost see the horizon curve. I almost missed seeing any high points.”
When Lalanda visited the Brazils again this month, she stayed in the same bedroom she had a quarter century before.
Page 2 of 2 - When Lalanda applied to spend a year in an American school, “I applied for Florida, California, or Hawaii. When they said I was going to Minnesota, I had to look it up on a map,” Lalanda laughed. “I knew California and Florida from the movies, but this is more the real America.
“Most Spanish students want to stay in Boston or New York, but I like this much better. In the big cities people go there own way.
“Here you know your neighbors and help each other. I never felt lonely here. Everyone made me very comfortable.”