Bainbridge gets a blast of culture during GRSP students’ and families’ show at Kirbo Center

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Scottish students walk through a unique dance that they had the whole crowd doing last Saturday evening at the Kirbo Center.

It was a busy weekend for Bainbridge Rotarians as the club hosted the state-wide Georgia Rotary Student Program Convocation for the very first time.

Rotarians opened their homes to 47 international students who have come to the United States to obtain one year of education in a Georgia college or university. The hotels were also filled as the students were accompanied by their host families from Rotary clubs all over the state.

A dinner celebration was held at the Kirbo Center Saturday night for all the students and host families. Following the dinner the students presented a program, first as a group, then in individual pairings according to the countries of origin. Many of the students were attired in costumes related to their countries, and began the program in the auditorium with a procession of the flags, as each paraded their colors down the aisle and onto the stage.

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The entertainment included musical selections, drama readings, dancing lessons and numerous amusing reflections of customs and traditions of the countries they represented.

The GRSP was the brainstorm of William Watts, Georgia Rotary’s District Governor in 1943-44, in an effort to establish peace and understanding among foreign countries following WW II. He also realized that many of the colleges and universities in Europe had been damaged or destroyed, making for overcrowding conditions at the ones that survived and wanted to extend a helping hand to those seeking higher education.

He presented his idea to his own club in 1946, then submitted it at the state conference, suggesting each Rotarian in Georgia give voluntarily one dollar a year to start the plan. It was unanimously accepted, and continues to be supported 100 percent by Georgia Rotary Clubs today. It is a unique program that sets Georgia Rotary apart.

It is as much an education for the hosting families as it is for the international students, as ideas and customs are exchanged.

Several of Bainbridge Rotarians had as many as five students staying in their home this past weekend, each from a different country. Comments from some of the parents indicated their students were fascinated by ordinary things we take for granted, such as a trip to Walmart.  One student from a South American country kept exclaiming, “Where are the walls? “as she was driven around town. It seems where she comes from people have high walls around their properties. She kept asking, “Is it safe to stay here?”

The lucky five staying at the Yent home were blown away by the indoor swimming pool they saw as soon as they entered the house. It is believed they made good use of it and word spread quickly through the other students what they were missing.

This was a huge undertaking for the local club, as they arranged living quarters, meals and knowledge sharing for all from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Organized activities were concluded Sunday morning with a game of Frisbee golf at Bainbridge High School.