Three Swedish photography students, in Southwest Missouri for three weeks to study graphic design, took a day Saturday to get back to nature at a rural Carthage ranch.
Brent Erwin, owner of the Medicine Hat Ranch on County Road 70 northeast of Carthage, played host to students Sanna Kålldén, 21, Stockholm; Matilda Kranén, 21, Goteberg; Elin Andersson, 21, Lund and their guide from Missouri Southern State University, Ashley Eriksen.
The five spent most of Saturday riding horses and taking pictures around Erwin's ranch and learning more about the America that most tourists only read about.
“I'm really interested in the Native American, the spiritual experiences,” Kålldén said. “The only reason I came here, I'm not very interested in modern things. I hoped to be able to come here and ride horses.”
The three are students at school in Mullsjo that is the equivalent to a community college in the U.S.
Erwin said he got to know their photography instructor in Sweden, Örjan Henriksson, about 18 years ago when Erwin had a shop at Red Oak II.
Erwin modeled for Henriksson, a noted international black and white photographer, on several occasions.
“We became good friends back then,” Erwin said. “His students have been coming here since 1995.”
The students are on a three-week exchange program that will see several students from Missouri Southern going to Sweden this summer.
“The school that they go to is actually a photography school but in the exchange they have, they want them to learn graphic design hand in hand with photography,” said guide Ashley Eriksen. “They're here now in her class working on projects like design techniques and what have you. This has been an on-going exchange with this school. Örjan is a good friend of Brent's and every year we like to bring them out here. I work for Missouri Southern but I'm here spending time with them by choice today. This is my day off.”
The three students said one of their goals for their trip to the America was to see the country outside the big tourist spots most travelers visit.
“For me it's very nice to go to another country and to really meet people who actually live here and see how it really is in a place rather than going to where all the tourists go,” Kranén said. “We wouldn't have the opportunity to come here, maybe we wouldn't come to Missouri at all if we didn't have this experience.”
“We have been lucky we have Ashley who can show us around, otherwise we would have just been around the school," Kålldén added. “I think it's good to come to a small town because we have never been to America before, so I think it's a good experience to see the values in the middle of the country. You get to see that before you go to New York or L.A. as many Swedish people do. To be able to see this small community.”
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