By Jim Young
“How does a trip to Revillo, South Dakota sound?” asked my editor. “Sure, ok?! And where is that exactly?”
I have been to quite a few places in my life, but I don’t think that is one of them.
It was for a story on 12 foreign exchange students, mostly from Asia and Europe who came to this town in the middle of America, population 152, to attend a school which is one building housing 140 students from kindergarten to grade 12.
My day started at 3am to head out for a flight to Minneapolis, followed by another 3 and a half hour drive to the town. First, never trust your GPS getting to Revillo. I made it the first 160 miles in good order but the last 10 miles put me on a makeshift gravel road with farm fields as far as the eyes could see in all directions. When recounting the story to the locals, they had a good laugh. They too were not even sure what “road” I was on.
I was curious as to how the students assimilated into the school and their life after hours. Not only did they have to cross barriers of language, culture and thousands of miles from home but also to adapt to a Midwestern winter climate and the isolation of small town America, where everybody knows everybody.