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GRSP Update
Grades and Holidays ... to New Student Selection ... to GRSP through a Student's Eye

At the North Fulton Rotary Council student weekend in November

At the North Fulton Rotary Council student weekend in November

Rachel Farren, Scotland, GRSP Class of 2016-17

Rachel Farren, Scotland, GRSP Class of 2016-17

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!

Posted by Lynn Clarke
January 9, 2018

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