In the winter of 1996 I was on sabbatical leave from Winona State University. I traveled to India for a Rotary Program, staying in various cities in Gujarat for nearly 5 weeks. Returning to teaching in August of 1997 I saw an email from the University asking faculty if we wished to “adopt” a student from another country. The students wouldn’t live with us, but we would have them over for dinner occasionally and just be a friend for them when
they needed help
Fresh off a very satisfying trip to India, I answered the email and asked for a student from India. A few weeks later I heard back from a girl named Shayana. We agreed to meet. Deb and I picked her up from her dorm and we went out to lunch. I thought, “This is a nice Hindu girl who can spend hours and hours discussing India with me!” Much to my initial disappointment, I found out that Shayana was a Catholic who had no intention of returning to India!
The years passed by. Shayana graduated from WSU with a dual majors in MIS and Biology. She interned at the Mayo Clinic, was hired full time at Mayo and worked there for several years. Later she moved to Minneapolis to accept a position with a large consulting firm. During those years she went to the University of Minnesota and earned an MBA. At that time she met an incredible young man from North Dakota named Dave. Theirs was truly a marriage of destiny, he growing up on the frozen red river valley and she in toasty Mangalore India . They now have a beautiful one year-old son named Saul. Their wedding was incredible; you’ve not lived until you attend a wedding party of Mangalorian Catholics and North Dakota Catholics!
Fifteen years have passed since we met Shayana. I’ve got Shayana listed as my daughter on my facebook page. While she is not legally our daughter, she and her entire family are part of our family. This Easter Shayana, Dave, Saul, and Blanche (Shayana’s mother) are here with us. It has been a wonderful weekend!
Sometimes we receive gifts that are so precious that we cannot even begin to express our gratitude. Because of Rotary, over these many years I’ve been able to help a few people in India. But India always gives back much more than you can give her. On this special day for Christians we celebrate the gift of Shayana and her family!