Monday, March 19, 2012

A great first day!

A good night’s sleep, a shower (sometimes a sauna) and a nice home-cooked meal can really refresh a person.

After the drive from Vaassa, I was greeted by a familiar sight—Juha and Erja had placed sunflowers in my bedroom—what hospitality!
Our first day then started and then continued with a busy but efficient schedule, in true Finnish fashion, with everything starting exactly on time.

We had a team meeting and newspaper interview at Restaurant Kruovi, where both Rotary clubs in town meet. We then walked 200 meters for a nice tour of the Kauhajoki Town Hall and a photo with the Mayor, and a presentation by Director of Administration, Mr. Markku Vahnanen. The city’s name, translated means “Spoon River” but bears no connection to Edgar Lee Masters.
We then walked another 100 meters for a lunch at the Kauhajoki school Centre, and a tour of the facility, both hosted by Principal Mr. Arto Taipus. The school is beautiful, and at two year of age, is state of the art in every description. Their attention to science, the arts, and also integration of special needs students is fascinating.  We’re not sure if this was a good place for our first sauna or not.

Lee and Sarah were also looking to recruit another member of our team. I hope that was not meant as a comment on the age of their leader.
Before a conclusion at the Kauhajoki and Suupohja Health Care Center, we had a nice visit at the Panula College of Music. The school was founded by District 1380 GSE coordinator Jaakko Panula’s grandfather. Principal Ms. Niina Kiprianoff hosted a conversation over coffee and cake, and concluded with a tour and a serenade by some young students. We felt like royalty.

Plans for the evening are varied. I know some of us are looking forward to a nicely-prepared tenderloin of moose. Yes, moose.

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