Minnesota winter could be a challenge for Lanesboro exchange student from Mexico

Romario Gonzales Lopez of Los Mochis, Mexico, will spend this school year at the Lanesboro High School as a foreign exchange student. CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER
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While he’s experienced snow before, during a snowboarding vacation in Colorado, Romario Gonzales Lopez of Los Mochis, Mexico, said he was somewhat apprehensive as he faces a Minnesota winter.

“Where I come from in Mexico, it’s always warm. I did spend a little time in Colorado in the snow, but a winter in Minnesota might be a little different than that,” said the soft-spoken Romario. Romario will be spending the school year attending Lanesboro High School and staying at the home of Steve and Kari Berg.

Romario’s hometown is somewhat larger than Lanesboro, with about 250,000 residents. It is located in the far northwestern part of Mexico, less than an hour from the Pacific Ocean and several hundred miles south of California. Temps in the summer regularly exceed 100 F and lows during the winter months barely ever drop below 60 F.

The city was founded in 1893 by a businessman named Benjamin F. Johnston, who came to make a fortune in the cultivation of sugarcane. The processing of sugarcane is still one of the main economic drivers today.

Romario, a junior at Lanesboro, has one brother who is 18. His father is a surgeon and his mother is a housewife. He got interested in the foreign exchange program through several friends who had participated in the program. Romario enjoys basketball and dabbles with the guitar, will have two years of high school remaining when he returns to Mexico next summer. He plans to continue on with college, majoring in either medicine or architecture.

“The people here are very friendly and the Lanesboro area is very beautiful,” he reported. He also said he is enjoying living with the Berg family and interacting with their children, especially Colton, who is just a couple years younger than Romario.

Going to movies, attending school activities and a trip to a cabin during the MEA vacation are some of the things Romario has been doing so far during his stay in Lanesboro.

Being able to speak fluent English has made the transition to living in the U.S. much easier for the young Mexican. Besides Spanish and English, Romario also speaks French.

Having Spanish exchange student Saioa Legal-perez also attending LHS this school year is a plus. “The other students kind of look at us and wondering what we are saying when Saioa and I converse in Spanish,” he added with a smile. 

When asked if he would recommend the foreign exchange program to fellow students in Los Mochis, Romario enthusiastically replied that he would. “It’s a great experience and I am really enjoying it,” he said.