GRSP student visits Bainbridge Rotary

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Each year since 1946 Rotarians in Georgia have sponsored a student from another country to come study for one year in one of Georgia’s colleges and universities. Called the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP), its sole purpose is to promote world peace through understanding by offering scholarships to international students.

The Southwest Georgia Rotary clubs for several years have been participating cooperatively to offer scholarships and act as “host families” to sponsor a student to attend Valdosta State University where they live and study on campus. They spend time two weekends a month, plus holidays with the host families.

This year’s student Helena Krumbacher is from Norway. She came to Bainbridge Rotary this week, wearing her national costume and recounted some of her year-long experiences in the U.S.

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She explained that each region of Norway has its own special costume worn for national holidays and special events. She received her dress at age 14 when she was confirmed in her church and said it is expected to be worn for special occasions the rest of their lives.

She related some of the things she has learned about the U.S. Saying she believes every country has its faults, she came to America with a one-sided picture of America. While here she has learned the other side.

She has also learned to be more self-confident and not get so upset by the little things.

She listed three things she will be glad to leave behind:

1. The lack of public transportation

2. The drinking age being 21

3. Guns

By way of explanation she found the drinking age in this country to be inconsistent with the age of driving a car or voting. She described America as very controversial.

She also was not used to seeing armed police everywhere. She described Norway as a very safe country where the police are not usually armed.

She listed three things she will miss about America when she leaves.

1. The way people here meet a new person, also known as Southern Hospitality.

2. What she referred to as “Southern Sass” (the way people interact and talk to one another.)

3. The friends she has made here, several of whom are from other countries.

She expressed her thanks for the opportunity to come here, saying she has learned more than she thought. She had opportunity to travel to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Disney World and to Mardi Gras at New Orleans, which she described as an “interesting experience.”

Her educational goals are to continue her studies to become an environmental engineer.