This year in GRSP has been truly phenomenal. I remember at the start of the year, at our very first conclave, we were all being told that this year would be one of the best in our lives, and I do not think that I truly understood what that would mean.
This year has truly been one of the best in my life, and I have been touched by so many wonderful people inside and outside Rotary. Coming to Georgia really opened up my eyes to the American way of life, and the American people. I could talk about specific experiences that have been precious to me this year, but there are so many of those that this would end up being as long as the book I plan to write. So instead I want to share two of the greatest overall experiences I have had during this year.
The first experience that has been so interesting and beneficial to me is the Southern hospitality. Being welcomed into the homes of Rotarians across Georgia and here in Dunwoody, and by students and their families from my school, has really been so heartwarming, it has truly made me not only feel at home, but a part of a larger family. Although sometimes I still find it a bit odd when a complete stranger is friendly and welcoming to me, this is something which I will miss and am going to try take back home with me (and trust me if that doesn’t stick I will be back here soon).
Perhaps the greatest experience of the GRSP year for me has been something I never expected to affect me the way in which it did. Namely the patriotism of Americans on every level from middle school to national pride. Now I am not saying I am a patriot of America – although it is an amazing country – but I have become a stronger patriot for South Africa and the world we all live in. I have always been a proud South African and world citizen yet I have always been somewhat skeptical of how much difference I can make in my country let alone the world, but this year interacting with American Rotarians as well as the 51 GRSP students from 17 countries, has made me see the possibilities for change that a small group can have, let alone the combined strength of Rotary. After this year I have realized more and more, in the same way that GRSP made a difference in so many people’s lives, that I can make a difference too.
I truly want to thank Georgia Rotarians for everything they do to make this program a possibility. Further than that though, I want to thank you all at Dunwoody Rotary for making this possible for me, by choosing me you did me a great honor, and it is something which I will carry proud for as long as I live. This program is something so special, and so life changing, and I will forever be thankful that you all allowed me into your lives, your club, and supported me along the past year. Hopefully I have lived up to your expectations and I will continue trying.
Marc Barros Gevers