Ignacio Gallego, or Nacho as he is known amongst his fellow classmates, is a foreign exchange student from Spain. He now lives with the Tammy and Dick Mielitz family and attends MHS.
When he first arrived, students thought his nickname was funny. “I thought it was funny, too,” he said, “Because kids would ask me if I like to eat nachos and, of course, I do.” Nacho explained his nickname is the traditional one used in place of Ignacio in Spain. “Just like Dick is used for Richard here in the USA,” Tammy added. Nacho recalled one day at football practice. “Coach T. could not remember my name so he called me ‘Burrito’. That was very funny.”
Nacho’s favorite sport is not football, though, but rugby. Tammy explained his club team in Spain finished second two times. “It’s similar to our state high school tournaments, except we have more teams to beat.”
Nacho also enjoys watching football and volleyball and is excited about the basketball and wrestling season. He attends monthly bowling trips with other exchange students from the area. “It’s funny going bowling, because I’m not very good at it.”
Ignacio left his mother, father, and 18-year-old sister to live in South Dakota. He comes from Las Rozas, a 23 square-mile township of about 90,000 people, in Madrid. “Living here is a lot different, but I’m enjoying it.” He chose the adventure to learn the English language. “I also wanted to experience a different culture, different people – different everything.” So far, things seem to be living up to that promise.
The Mielitz family owns a farming operation with Dick’s two brothers and several nephews, so Nacho has tried his hand at farm life. “I cannot drive or operate machines, but I ride along and help out.”
He has also gone hunting. “Mason likes to hunt pretty much everything, so he takes Nacho along with him,” Tammy said. Nacho added, “It’s very difficult to get permission to use a gun or get a hunting license in Spain, so I had never hunted. It’s a different way of spending time, but I enjoy it. I am enjoying everything and look forward to the rest of the school year.”
He said he also has dreams of attending an American university. “Schools are much better in the United States. A college education is much better than in Spain; all education is better here. First, however, he will need to convince his mother. My mother does not want me to be very far away from her.” Another hurdle is the cost of an American undergraduate education. It is much higher in the United States than in Spain. “In Spain, college is cheap. It is about $1,000 a year.”
High school is also different in Milbank than in Spain. “School here is very good. In Spain, it is very bad. Teachers in Spain do not really know what to do or how to teach. Many times they just give us the book and tell us to study these pages and then give us a test. Here the teachers like what they know and know how to teach. They take the time to make sure you understand.”