Posted by Doreen Higgins on Feb 11, 2018
Two of the visiting GRSP students, hosted by other area Rotary Clubs, told us about their lives and hopes on Wednesday.  Mary Sharples is from Wales, UK., and Brendan Mungwena is from Zimbabwe.
Mary described herself as a feminist with a strong interest in music, art, theater, and travel.  She is the daughter of a Methodist minister, a Girl Guide (Scout), and a Methodist Ecumenical Youth Representative.  She is majoring in theater and will go to the University of Manchester, England, to study drama after this academic year in Savannah. Mary showed us pictures of her family and of the beauties of Wales, including mountains, castles, and the seashore around where she lives.  The population of Wales is 3 million people, and the Welsh symbols of the Red Dragon, the daffodil and the leek were featured in her pictures.
Brendan’s story could hardly be more different.  Zimbabwe is a country of 16 million people for whom, mostly, the outlook is bleak.  Some 80% live in poverty and 94% are unemployed. The only real strengths in the economy are mining and agriculture, and there is considerable tourism business, due in part to the beauty of Victoria Falls and the surrounding countryside – we saw pictures of animals including camels and rhinos.  Brendan described the country’s system of government as “a semi-presidential republic”, and the current president is Robert Gabriel Mugabe.  Brendan told us his social life at home centered upon friends and family (with pictures), and activities including get-togethers, visits to game parks, sports (soccer and running), and travel.  His ambition is to become a business economist.
The Rotary Clubs of Georgia welcome some 50 students each year from all over the world.  The clubs pay the students’ college fees and dorm expenses, and host families from among Rotary members take care of them during college vacations.  Every year we enjoy meeting these men and women and hear of their hopes for their future; they get the opportunity to see the United States, and many have told us, when they leave to go home, “You changed our lives.”
Below are pictured Mary Sharples, President Toni, David Probst (our GRSP student) and Brendan Mungwena.