Yanks think they have us down pat
AS I walk through a cow pasture on a 620-acre farm in northern New South Wales, I dodge massive cow pats.
The landowner - my host father - glances back, saying it's not so bad to step in the fresh ones because, at least, they're warm.
He smiles a crooked smile and continues on, lifting his tall, lean legs over the grassy patches of his paddock.
His humour, like that of many Aussies I've met, is just one thing I've found we humans have in common - despite distances spanning more than 16,000 kilometres.
I travelled to Australia from Wisconsin, U.S.A. on March 13. I'm here for one month with three other young professionals and a team leader as part of a group study exchange through Rotary International.
We are here to share our culture and learn about our professions abroad. We will return with stories about Australia to share with Rotary Clubs back home.
As I watch kangaroos bouncing off into a background of granite rock and white-trunk trees, I have to pinch myself. Is this really Australia and not a Discovery Channel special? I've been granted a special pass to see the inside of this country and meet its people in a way that no tourist ever could.
So, when we go on our vocational visits to area businesses and organizations, we've had many questions for Aussies and Aussies have had many questions for us.
Franko Garritano, a local firefighter and policeman in La Crosse, Wisconsin, can't understand how officers in Stanthorpe go to work without bullet-proof vests.
We've learned the most when we've least expected it - across dinner tables, in cars and as we trudge across cow-pie-laden fields.
We've see a side of Australia that would be nearly impossible without a Rotary connection and we are so grateful for the people of Australia that have made this journey possible.