As the Christmas holidays ended,
we were all happy to have our students, who had the good fortune to travel,
return to the fold and begin classes. So far, the grades coming in to the
GRSP home office have been good. Encourage your students to keep up that
good work and maintain good grades, as transcripts will be available to them at
the end of the year.
In the past many hosts wondered
if it made any difference for students whose courses would not transfer to
their home country. LET ME REMIND YOU AND THEM, that their transcript can be a
valuable resume builder. Future employers will wonder what they did for
their year in Georgia and a strong transcript can be the difference between a
good job and a GREAT job. Your students were told this at the beginning of
their year, but another reminder can keep them on track for a successful finish
to their year.
We had some interesting stories
this year about travels over the holidays. Florida saw several of our
students, as well as New York City for New Year’s Eve, which was the second
coldest New Year’s Eve celebration in history. We haven’t heard of any
frostbite victims, so it looks like they all made it through
unscathed. Many students traveled with their host families and some
traveled with each other in other to expand their cultural experiences in other
areas of the US. We like to encourage our students to see the diversity
throughout the US and traveling over the holidays is a great way to see the
differences in this great country. With the Atlanta Airport had electrical
issues over the holidays, we had several students who had traveled to Chicago
during their break. When their flight was canceled, they thought they
would catch a bus back to Atlanta, but then the bus steering went out in
Indianapolis. They arrived in Atlanta at 3:15AM – yes, that’s AM.
Selection for Next Year
The selection process this year
has again been very interesting. W had a couple of clubs that dropped out
in December and left us scrambling at the last minute to repair
partnerships. Fortunately, we also had a couple of clubs that wanted to
come back into the program, so we were able to keep partnerships going.
We do have a very unusual partnership situation in Cobb County where a student
will be shared by two clubs in Cobb County and some clubs in District
6910. It will be fun for those clubs forming new partnerships to get to
know the host families from other clubs. For those of us who have hosted
several students over the years, that is actually an unexpected benefit to
being a part of the GRSP family – getting to know Rotarians from other clubs
during the exchange process when they come into Georgia, go to Conclave, holidays,
getting them to student weekends and, of course, the District Conference.
MLK Leadership Weekend
This student weekend taking
place at Oglethorpe University is sponsored by the DeKalb Rotary Council and
the Rotary Clubs of Dunwoody, Atlanta, Brookhaven, Buckhead, North Atlanta and
Roswell, who are madly getting ready to host our students. This is a
particularly good weekend for students to learn how to make a difference in the
world, build communication skills and complete a community service project.
The students will meet Friday at noon at the Center for Civil and Human Rights
in downtown Atlanta, where they will learn a little bit about our rich history
during the civil rights movement. There will be no “down time” for the
students as they are immersed in what Rotary means to the world. Some of
our own Rotarians find this weekend of particular benefit to them and join in
the activities. This year the students will be participating in the
strategic planning process for GRSP and will be meeting with a representative
of the Fanning Institute at University of Georgia. It is our hope that we
can try to understand what drives these students, so that we can better prepare
for the future of the Georgia Rotary Student Program.
From a Former Student's Perspective
by Rachel Elizabeth Farren, Class of 2016-17, hosted by the
North Columbus, Muscogee and Harris County Rotary Clubs
This year has been one of the busiest and
most amazing years of my life! It has flown by, and I've been able to see so
many amazing things thanks to my newfound GRSP friends and the generosity of
Rotary, Rotarians and my host families!
I'm not going to say this year hasn't had
its ups and downs. I am however, grateful for every experience I've had, as I
feel it's made me more confident and better prepared me for the future. It was
my first time living away from home, and I have to admit, when I first came I
was terrified. Everyone around me was strangers, speaking with strange accents
and eating strange foods (boiled peanuts and fried pickles? Really?). Even being
a native English speaker, it took some time understanding what things meant;
biscuits are cookies, scones are biscuits, trousers are pants, and pants are
underwear (you see how it can get confusing?).
However, I had amazing host families who
welcomed me with open arms, opened their homes to me and made me truly feel a
part of their family. I was also incredibly lucky to be sponsored by three
amazing clubs, filled with kind and generous people who greeted me with a warm
smile and hug every week. This year has given me a greater understanding of
what Rotary does and how it helps both the community and the wider world.
I have had so many
different experiences this year I never thought I would have. I have
experiences things from my first thanksgiving, to flying in a small (very
small) airplane, to planting mushrooms, to selling Girl Scout cookies, to
shooting a gun for the first time. I got to spend New Years in New York City
with other GRSPs, seeing all the sights and annoying all the others with my
constant photo-taking. I was also able to experience the incredible atmosphere
of college football, go to the Harry Potter expo in Orlando, take a white water
rafting class, and go to Music Midtown festival in Atlanta (to name but a few).
I still have another 4 months or so left in the states, which I fully intend to
fill with much more travel and new experiences!
I am so grateful
to have met and spent the year with such an incredible group of people from
around the world. I have learnt about lots of different cultures and made
friends I know I will keep for a long time. I hope to travel to visit many of
them in future years and hope many will come to visit me too!