Rotary Club hosts student from Ukraine

Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Bainbridge Rotary Club is excited to play host to a college student visiting with us from the country of Ukraine.

Previously a portion of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. This freedom allowed the family of our student, Maryana Khrupa, to advance significantly.

Prior to independence, Maryana’s father worked as a bus driver and her mother worked in a store. With new horizons open to them from the new freedom, Maryana’s parents became involved in business and helped to create opportunity for the whole family. Part of that opportunity came through a Rotary Club in Poland where Maryana was going to school.

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Maryana will be spending this school year at Valdosta State University.

She is the guest of three Rotary Clubs in our area: Bainbridge, Camilla and Pelham. Each of these clubs helps contribute time and funds to provide Maryana with this experience.

Participating in the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP), our clubs and Maryana have come together for this very special year in her life. This connection between Rotary clubs and foreign students is being repeated all across the state.

Each year, about 70 international students are brought to Georgia for just such an experience through the GRSP. The GRSP was originally developed by Will Watt from Thomasville and is a program unique to Georgia Rotarians.

Each Fall, Rotary Club members all across the state make the pilgrimage to airports to pick up the new students. We make them feel as welcome and comfortable as possible, hosting the students over weekends and holidays, while serving as surrogate parents.

Maryana feels very fortunate to be provided this opportunity where her school and expenses are given to her freely. You should know that Maryana is not the traditional student that you think of sending off to college. She is quite a special and accomplished young lady.

She is also very directed and motivated.

No basket-weaving classes for her!

She was born in Novoyavorivsk, near Lviv (if that helps), in the Ukraine. She has an older brother who has made her an aunt! She has seemingly always been devoted to her studies. School was never enough to challenge her though. She has sung, taken years of dance, and played handball, amongst many other extracurricular activities. When she completed high school, she received the Gold Medal for a perfect GPA. That was in 2005. She has continued to be very active since that hurdle was jumped. Through the intervening years, Maryana has been afforded the opportunity to travel extensively, previously visiting the United States and also other countries to include Russia, Slovakia, Portugal, and Egypt. After high school, her parents sent her to a private college, the College of Tourism and Foreign Languages in Warsaw, Poland. One detail of significance was that she did not speak Polish at the time! WOW! So Maryana was tasked with starting school while learning the language simultaneously, something very necessary if she was to pass her exams! And we thought English 101 was tough! Oh, another detail. The studies of this Ukrainian in Poland included English and Spanish. Yes, she is very multi-lingual. That is just one of her many talents. It will serve her well in her desired career.

Did I mention that Maryana was not the traditional young college student?

That may be because even though she is still very young, she already has a bachelor’s-equivalent degree in tourism management and communication and has worked on a graduate degree in international affairs. In her spare time at school (I don’t know that I would have had any), she worked in a private clinic of the Order of Saint John of God. She says she had a great experience there, learning to help people with her heart!

The Bainbridge Rotary Club is very excited and proud to host Maryana Khrupa. She is very accomplished, very talented and very driven. She also is notable for having a caring heart.

The intent of the GRSP program is to help build world understanding and peace.

In Bainbridge, we now have learned that there are some wonderful people who live in the Ukraine. We are very optimistic as well, that while Maryana learns to speak yet another language, i.e. South Georgia Redneck, she will learn that there are wonderful people here as well; people who can be her friends for life.

Once she embarks on her career in international business, our hope is that her experiences with us will help remind her that caring people are found everywhere, that ethics are a universal ideal, that Americans are sharing people, and that love can be limitless.