Welcoming a New Year of GRSP Experiences

Picking up our GRSP student Tino from Zimbabwe at the airport. She will start classes at University of West GA in the fall.

Picking up our GRSP student Tino from Zimbabwe at the airport. She will start classes at University of West GA in the fall.

Meet the Class of 2017-2018

Our district will be hosting 20 students this year - supported by 37 clubs in the district. We look forward to the opportunity to get to know our students and the rest of the GRSP class - in total 45 students, with 31 females and 14 males - from Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Wales and Zimbabwe. While the group represents a lot of countries, we are hopeful that the interest generated by our booth at the International Convention and having GRSP alumni bringing in the flags of the nations will generate interest from more countries next year - maybe even countries we have never hosted before.

For District 6900, our 20 students translates to a net loss of one student from last year. In the 2015-2016 year, we had 44 clubs supporting a student. For 2016-2017, we had 43 clubs supporting students and this Rotary year, we will have 37 clubs supporting 20 students. Our district will host 16 females and 4 males. As we have mentioned previously, this may be an indicator of the trend we are seeing nationally of more women attending universities than men. District 6900 will have two students at Clayton State, two at Columbus State, two at Georgia Southwestern, three at Georgia State,three at Kennesaw, three at Oglethorpe, one at UGA (but four total from the program), two at Valdosta and two at University of West Georgia.

Our Leaders Support This Program for Peace

At our summer trustee meeting this year, we were fortunate to have DG Alec Smythe, DGE Court Dowis and DGN Jim Squire attending (all at their own expense) - the first time in the history of GRSP that we had all three individuals in the DG line-up attending the summer meeting. Because of their participation, it is apparent that this program has the support of District 6900 for the next three years, which is very much appreciated.

The summer meeting is held to review the previous year and plan for the current year in the world of the Georgia Rotary Student Program. All three district governors played a major role in our meeting and had some interesting comments about the program. DG Alec Smythe is particularly interested in our strategic planning and praised the program for its investment for peace in the world. The main feedback we received from all three, however, was that it was a great program that was not understood by the majority of Rotarians in District 6900. It will be our goal this year to bring understanding to Rotarians in District 6900. In that vein it is our hope that Rotarians will review DG Alec’s blog post about GRSP, and the fact that it is more of a program for peace than a scholarship. It is about as comprehensive a review of GRSP as we have ever seen.

Roll Out the Welcome Mat

By the time you read this newsletter, many of your students will have already arrived and some will even already be attending orientation for their universities. If you are still waiting for your student to arrive, this is a good time to take a look at your student’s “suitcase” to be sure that they have the things that they need to make their stay in a dorm a pleasant one. It is very easy to just recycle everything from your student last year, but it is a gift to your new student to take a look at what you have and throw out a few things that may have become worn out over the years. Some students take excellent care of the items in their suitcase, but others may not.

Please be sure that you have as many Rotarians as possible at the airport to greet your student when they arrive. Nothing is more welcoming than signs and flags of their country, welcoming them when they first burst through the doors of the international terminal. For Rotarians who may have waited for a long time to greet their student, this is a most exciting time. If you are not a host family, but have interest in the student, offer to take the student out to dinner or to a movie or even a visit with your family for the day. Many times the student is very lonely that first month before they meet the rest of the GRSP students or other students from their country who may be attending their same university. We are also finding that American students may take a while to warm up to a student from another country. We find that many Americans are fearful of what they don’t know and are afraid to appear silly or stupid by asking questions. This is the beauty of the program and its mission to create understanding between countries. For those of you with young children, invite your student to your home for a meal with your children or even out to dinner. The students enjoy this and your children will learn about the world through the eyes of young people living the dream of spending a year in Georgia, but with remembrances of home.

Rotary International Convention and Reunion ... on a Personal Note

As Rotarians we understand about Service Above Self, which is one of the many reasons for this program. Will Watt had just come back from World War II with a vision that if we understood the Germans and the Japanese that maybe we would not be in that war. This year we are hosting two German students – one at the University of West Georgia and one at Armstrong in Savannah. Our relations are good with Germany now, but it took the efforts of many visionaries to make this a reality. Germany is again a power, but recognizes that too much power corrupts. While attending the GRSP Reunion, I met a GRSP alumna who was working with a nonprofit on a better, more efficient way to generate clean water. Her journey began with Rotary and Rotarians encouraged this need to give back. She actually came from a country that is considered isolationist and is a socialist country, so they depend on their government to provide. When I speak with students from this country, they talk about how little their Rotary Clubs are doing and are amazed at what we do here in the US. I believe that this student would have probably gone into the financial sector, but has dedicated her life to finding a way to create fresh water. Wow!

Ik-Whan G. Kwon of South Korea, GRSP Class of 1963-65, graduated from UGA with a PhD in Economics and has spent his entire career devoted to educating, counseling and mentoring young people from almost every country in the world. Dr. Kwon is a lecturer, writer, researcher and counselor who is currently the Professor of Decision Sciences and MIS at St. Louis University. Among other prestigious accomplishments, he is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research. He received the National Science Foundation Fellow to Taiwan and Korea, Fulbright Senior Scholar to Korea, and has received the National Defense Transportation Association Distinguished Educator’s award. He is confident that he has fulfilled the promises that he made upon graduation with the Georgia Rotary Student Program which was to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, good will and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty.


Posted by Lynn Clarke
August 5, 2017


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