Rotary says goodbye to international GRSP student

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2015

For the past 69 years Georgia Rotarians have participated in bringing an international student to study for one year in a Georgia college or university.

The Georgia Rotary Student Program began in 1946 in Thomasville, and to date over 3000 students have come to gain a better understanding of the United States, while experiencing the Southern Georgia culture.

This year’s student, Estafania Ybarra, whose home is Guadalajara, Mexico, spent one academic year at Valdosta State University. She was sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Bainbridge, Camilla and Pelham, who collaborated to offer her a scholarship. The students live on campus and experience college life in every way. They are provided “host parents” in each community, a place where the student can go and feel at home when not in school. Estafania’s Bainbridge “home” was with Dean and Marlene Free.

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Estafania gave a tearful farewell at Tuesday’s Rotary meeting as she recounted the many experiences she had in Georgia. She also had opportunity to visit Washington D.C. , Disney Resort in Orlando and was an extra in the filming of a TV series in Atlanta. This was her first experience at being away from home and she learned to be independent, to grocery shop and do her own laundry.

Concluding her remarks she showed a video of her activities from her earliest arrival to the end of the school year and thanked Rotary for making this opportunity  available to her.

She will now return to Mexico, but hopes to come back to Atlanta late summer to apply to acting school.

Next year the local club will sponsor a student from Norway. It is interesting to note that this student’s parents are both former GRSP students.