From left to right: Ralph Kunze, Julian Kunze, GRSP Class of 2022-23 Hannah Kunze, Bunnie Richey, former GRSP TRustee Joe Richey and Andrea Reinhold-Kunze GRSP Class of 1989-1990 alumnae visit Savannah in August 2022.
Thirty-three years ago, Andrea Reinhold, now Kunze, boarded a plane from Germany to spend a year in Savannah, Georgia as a scholarship recipient for the Georgia Rotary Student Program.
In August, her daughter Hannah followed her mother’s footsteps. The mother-daughter duo are among a handful of family members who have shared the one-year ambassadorial scholarship over the history of the program’s 76 years.
Andrea participated in GRSP in 1989 at then Armstrong State College, now Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus. She was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Savannah South. Joe Richey, who served as a GRSP Trustee, and his wife Bunnie served as her host family.
Hannah is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Habersham County and attends Piedmont University in Demorest in northeast Georgia. Spencer Carr is her GRSP Trustee while Ty and Christina Akins serve as her host family.
Andrea said she heard about Rotary scholarships from a flyer at school but did not have many details and the internet was not as full of information as it is today. “I wrote to two or three people and it was a coincidence that I discovered GRSP.”
The youngest of three children, Andrea was excited to live in the United States for a year. I was curious about getting to know people and a new place,” she said. “I collected a few books and magazines about Georgia.”
While so much has changed in the world since Andrea’s initial trip to Georgia, some things have remained the same. Andrea, her husband Ralph and son Julian joined Hannah this summer before classes started, which gave them a chance to connect with the Richey family and travel the state.
“It was weird because it had been such a long time ago but it also felt like coming home,” Andrea said. “It was so good to see the Joe and Bunnie again, as if time stood still.
“I was enthusiastic for Hannah to have the opportunity to study in the US, and I realized how much different it must have been for my parents without internet and email. My dad and I exchanged letters, and it took about two weeks to arrive. We spoke on the phone, but international calls were expensive and not long.”
Three other GRSP students were at Armstrong the time Andrea attended, including a male from Belgium along with a female from Denmark and another from France. In 2000, Andrea’s host family traveled to Germany to attend her wedding and ironically, the Richeys shared the same June 24 anniversary.
In 2002, Andrea’s brother spent a year in Boston in a study-abroad program that was not affiliated with Rotary. A few years later, Andrea became a mother, her life got busier, and she lost touch with her GRSP peers and the Richey family.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and Andrea said her GRSP experience was so positive that she encouraged Hannah to search the internet to investigate her options. Andrea said it was not as difficult to find the information because they knew the name of the program. Hannah had spent a year prior in New Zeeland and wanted another opportunity to travel. Andrea reached out to the Richeys by email to inform them that Hannah applied for the program. They were excited, especially when Hannah was selected for the GRSP scholarship.
“Mom always shared the stories about the most fun year of her life,” Hannah said.
At Piedmont, Hannah is enjoying the athletic coaching class and microeconomics. In Germany, Hannah’s normal mode of transportation is by bus or train. She enjoys the time she spends with her host family and while she enjoys the countryside, she said she is often surprised the travel time and distance between towns in Georgia are more than she imagined.
Hannah will head south Friday to join other GRSP scholars in Savannah for the Hue Thomas Jr., Weekend sponsored by Savannah area Rotary Clubs. Hue guided GRSP through 35 years of growth from 1955 to 1989. The weekend named in his memory features a Low Country Boil along with a ghost tour and visits to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum plus the Tybee Island Lighthouse.
Andrea Reinhold Kunze, center, in Savannah in 1990 as part of GRSP. Daughter Hannah Kunze at Piedmont College, right photo, in 2022.