FEELINGS! A simple word yet so complicated when we try to express what it means to us personally. We all have feelings. Some of us express them openly; others, just keep them within their souls. My feelings are open and this is what I feel. To some, GRSP is a mere program in a book. To me, GRSP is a living legacy! Yes, my friends, GRSP is the legacy of a single man’s dream of peace. But Mr. Watt’s dream has been kept alive through the relentless efforts of thousands of Georgia Rotarians for 50 years. Luckily, one man’s dream has become the legacy of an entire State, and for that matter, the World.
Have you ever experienced seeing seventy some ambassadors from so many countries, under one roof — just trying to become friends — each person, trying to understand the differences and putting aside the eternal quarrels of politics, religion, nationality and race? I have. And then ten months later, seeing the results of this “magical” GRSP experience. Four years ago as I stepped into adulthood, these were my first experiences and insights to what a peaceful world could be.
To Georgian Rotarians… I say you create a “special world” for international students every year. Be proud! Each year, the World becomes smaller, friendlier and more peaceful than the year before. We thank you! For you, it’s an opportunity to see what the rest of the world looks like and thinks like. Please be patient with us because we try so hard to be patient with you. It’s scary for us. For those of us not from Europe, it’s a tremendous culture shock. We need friends — individuals who are open and ready to share with us. Most all Rotarians we encounter become friends… no, more than that — family. But if you’re not family, then I implore you, please take one step toward us and we will take three steps toward you. Together, we can make this planet just a bit smaller, beginning with our ten month stay here amongst the beautiful pines of Georgia.
To my fellow GRSP scholars… I ask you to be “open”. Each of us arrive here, afraid of the uncertainties that come with leaving the security of our home and our country. Broaden your mind. Broaden your horizons. Look around yourself. Look within yourself. You will find that you now belong to a very large family — the family of Humankind. This may sound quite flowery; but within it lies the truth.
As a GRSP scholar from the Class of 1992-93, I found a “new me” during my year in Georgia. I am a Muslim and I’m a Pakistani. Before I came I would not have thought about having friends in India. Today, I have e-mail contact with good friends there. And that’s only one country. Students… you are in America! During your year here, you’ll have the opportunity to look beyond your self-imposed biases and prejudices. Here, you can think as an individual. Don’t miss this opportunity.
So what is the real legacy? One of my friends from Turkey may have said it best, “To have a friend in each country is much more valuable than a house in each country”. After your year in Georgia, I hope you, too, will feel the GRSP legacy of Friendship, Love and Understanding.
As GRSP scholars, WE are the future of this world. If we try, we can make a difference. Since I’ve been here, many individuals have touched my life. I thank them! But if each one of us will just touch one other life in a kind, loving, compassionate, and understanding way, WE will all make this World a much more peaceful planet for our heirs.
M. Ali Haider
Class of 1992-93