Sara here. Shillong is fabulous and our hosts are amazing, very warm and generous. Karin and I have been up before 6am every morning until yesterday when we slept a little later. We've all spent a little more time together the last couple of days and it's been so fun. Yesterday we toured a small but very impressive call center which according to Don has phone technology that's 5 years out in the states, looked at their IT, and also toured a privately-owned hospital with great technology. Our rotary hosts are wonderful, totally hooked up, and include many doctors so we're learning about health care here. A highlight of the hospital tour -- Rotary here helped a 4 year old girl with severe burns whose leg had healed together, bent at the knee, by separating it and doing skin grafts. After 4 months in the hospital she went home to her village a couple of days ago. We had a great lunch at the home of one of the Rotary presidents, went to a meditation and cultural center with amazing gardens, and met with a state assembly member who is also in Rotary. He was very generous with his time, gave us tea (which here includes sweets and yummy snacks, with several "teas" a day we are eating many times), and also showed us the newspaper he puts out and we got to talk with people in the newsroom and see it being printed.
We did another presentation last night, this one much longer and more detailed, and had a really interesting conversation with the hosting club. As different as our countries are, developing vs. developed, we have a lot of the same challenges. We had a great dinner, a late night, and got up early today.
Today we saw the 4th highest waterfall in the world which is mostly dry right now but incredible, it was like looking at the grand canyon. A local church was doing an ordination and it was held outside with hundreds of people. We were right by the border of Bangladesh and one of our hosts runs a concrete factory which employs 80% of the people in that village and uses local limestone and coal. He seemed to know everyone in town. We had a lunch of chicken and noodles wrapped in banana leaves in a gorgeous park where we could see the waterfall. Went to a couple of lookouts and through a cave. Our drive home was fun with Nathan learning to talk in one of the local tribal languages and yelling hi out the window to everyone. Tonight we have a dinner. Tomorrow is another full day.
Kumno paralok (Khasi for wassup)
Having a blast every day. Up until two each morning signing and dancing and playing Carom. Basically finger pool. Everyone we meet is so very welcoming and likes to have lots of fun. We met Ana a Rotary youth exchange student from Brazil. She just celebrated her 18th birthday and is having fun traveling with us in Shillong. The daughter of the man we are staying with has the same name as my sister which I found very easy to remember. Her name is Nicola my sister's name is Nicole.
Today I was learning Khasi as we traveled back from Cherrapunjee. Yelling hello brother and hello sister in the local dialect. In this area there are a lot of dialects and some people do not understand so we have made a game in trying to find people who understand Khasi as we drive by.
On a more serious note it is very interesting to find that although the culture and language is very different from our own, the poeple have the same desires and worries in both India and USA. They are concerned about the roles that government should play and how these roles should be implemented. They are concerned with globalization and its effects on the local life.
Lah Leit (goodbye)