Magno Soria Toniolo
University of West Georgia
So far, I have done many things. I went to the Falcons game twice (they lost both, unfortunately, but it was amazing to be in the Mercedes Stadium), I have also been to the Braves game and, my highlight was at Christmas, when I went to Las Vegas with my host family. Who does not want to go there! Everybody wants it and I had the opportunity to spend a week there. What a great experience. In addition, we drove to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. After that, I can tell you, the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful and impressive place that I have ever seen. Anyway, these things are just a little bit of everything I have lived here. I am very grateful to Rotary community for giving me this incredible opportunity. I will carry this with me for the rest of my life.
Georgia Southwestern State University
Spending time with the other GRSP students for me was the most fulfilling part of the program. I find it so incredible that people from all over the world ended up at the same place. We were all so different, but at the same time, we were all put in the same situation. This is what made us so close. And the best part is that we are all willing to share our cultural shocks. It’s funny that, for example, the cold weather was very strange for me, but for another person, seeing palm trees was strange. Spending time together made us learn so much. And the best part is that I can’t say anything bad about any of them. They are all lovely souls.
University of Georgia
The best part of being a GRSPer to me has being developing a sense of empathy instead of sympathy. All too often the global community watches catastrophic events happen in foreign countries and are sympathetic to the cause but coming into contact with somebody who has been affected by it changes the story altogether. You feel their pain, anxiety, disappointment and fear and get a better understanding of their life as you communicate and exchange ideas. This is the only way to fight racism and integrate the world beyond the scope of social media global communities. My interactions with Americans affected by events like 9/11, the Islam community and other minorities, African Americans and other groups have molded me into becoming more of a global citizen rather than a Zimbabwean. The experience has carved my intuition for the better in all facets relating to life and international relations.
SOFIA LINNEA MARIA ERLANDSSON
University of North Georgia
Attending university in a small village, high up in the mountains, offered me a gorgeous view every morning. I found one of my best friends in my roommate and another of my best friends right down the hall. With the two of them, and many others, I discovered new states, went road tripping, skiing, tubing, and hiking parts of the Appalachian trail. Thanks to the endless stream of adventures there were barely a weekend where I did not have anything to do. And thanks to all of them, I felt like I was not only in the US but part of it.
I also found friends from all over the world in the other GRSP students. By meeting up during the GRSP weekends and taking part in all the amazing experiences they offered we got to know each other. Together we did everything from zip-lining to climbing a light house. Every new weekend was more fun than the last because we got to know one another better and better.
GEETH PINSARA MAHAGAMAGE
To me, the GRSP is the exemplar of a life-changing program. When I heard that I was selected for the GRSP, I knew I was in for an experience, but I did not sign up for this: for all this hospitality, love and affection, the relationships that I have built and all this experience. It did not take me long after meeting my host parents, Rotarians and fellow GRSP students to understand that this year was going to be great, and so it has been. The GRSP genuinely changed my life in ways that nobody would have ever imagined, helped me grow, changed how I see the world, gave me and keeps giving me more and more experiences.
ADAOBI PRINCESS NWOFOR
Being a graduate from my home country, I was also looking forward to the college life in the US and due to the program, I was able to explore it and for that I am so grateful. It was different and it was good, I learnt a lot and also noted the differences which made me decide to pursue a second degree here, all these would not have been possible if I was not part of the GRSP program and I am so blessed to be here. I made some friends here, met people from all over the world and I came to the conclusion that peace is possible despite race, age, status etc. We could exist together and still be happy. GRSP taught me that, I will forever be grateful to my uncle who told me about the program, to my rotary clubs: Midtown, Tucker and Sandy Springs who made it possible for me to be here and to have a home away from home.
Georgia Gwinnett College
As an international student at GGC myself, I was easily able to meet other internationals attending and I loved it. Alongside GRSP, my actual college gave me opportunities to interact with many different cultures. Canadians, Swedes, Nigerians and countless more. Met some English folk and definitely appreciated the accents, felt like I was already closer to home. Although, the Scottish accents are better as biased as it sounds (apologies to Zoe, Southampton accents are cool too). Having a Chick-Fil-A on campus was phenomenal, I fully understand why Americans rave about it now. Isn’t it time to open a franchise of it in Scotland? GGC has provided me with so many memories to take home and I can’t be thankful enough. I cannot visualize my time there with anyone else but my two other GRSP kids.
Clayton State University
During this year, I had the chance to travel a lot. Not only all over Georgia, but also in Nashville, Charleston, Miami, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This made me realize that the United States and its surroundings have so much diversity and so much to experience. The year is not over yet and I hope to have the chance to discover even more of this awesome country and make other lifetime memories.
More than anything, GRSP taught me to be more independent and organized which I am sure will be beneficial to me in the future. Being a part of this program allowed me to meet so many great people that I would not have met otherwise, and I now have an excuse to visit lots of new countries.
CATHARINA ILLUM VANDEKERCKHOVE
Georgia State University
I’m from Denmark and have been studying at Georgia State University for my GRSP year. It’s been a very enlightening and wonderful experience. Studying in the middle of Downtown Atlanta has given me insight into the ups and downs of urban culture in the south and direct meeting with the people there. Attending a university without an actual campus has definitely been very interesting.
What is Rotary?
A global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers. These are people that see a world that is united and peaceful. These are people who take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
In Rotary, we solve real problems through our commitment to peace and our vision for a better tomorrow. For more than 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.
What do Rotarians do?
Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues. Our 35,000+ clubs work together to:
- Promote peace
- Fight disease
- Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Save mothers and children
- Support education
- Grow local economies