Student from Wales tells of lessons learned

Published 6:20 am Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beth Wellsbury, a Valdosta State University student from Wales in the United Kingdom and a participant in the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP), made a return visit to the Bainbridge Rotary Club Tuesday.

Attending with Wellsbury were her father, mother, older sister and younger brother, all of whom arrived in Bainbridge from Wales just minutes before the program began.

The GRSP program provides scholarships to international students to attend college in Georgia. Wellsbury in one of 66 students from 30 different countries attending 23 different colleges this year, according to Marlene Free, who co-chairs the local GRSP committee with her husband, Dean. The Frees were also one of four host families for Wellsbury during her time at Valdosta State.

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As part of the program, each student is required to speak to the participating host Rotary Club twice during the year. Last October, Wellsbury presented a program to the Bainbridge club describing her life in Wales.

The second presentation including the activities and lessons learned during the student’s time spent in Georgia. Tuesday, Wellsbury described the various events attended, trips taken and lessons learned during the last several months in South Georgia.

“When I first came here, I had never been to Georgia before, so the only impressions I had were on film,” Wellsbury said. “I watched Gone With the Wind and expected many different things, but nothing could have made me ready for the humidity and the gnats.”

The four host families are from Cairo, Bainbridge, Camilla and Pelham, and Wellsbury said that she had grown close to each of the families.

The size of food portions was also a surprise to Wellsbury, coming from Wales, and she learned to enjoy a low-country boil while in Savannah.

The GRSP program began in 1946 and during that time the Bainbridge Rotary Club has contributed more than $74,000 for scholarships for the international students.