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Finnish student learning ways of U.S.

POSTED: May 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Alena Parker/

Georgia Rotary Student Program participant Hanne-Kaisa Pirkola was chosen as guest speaker by Hinesville Rotartian Dave Sapp (left) and Richmond Hill rotarian Ray Pittman.

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Hanne-Kaisa Pirkola from Finland may have been the farthest a guest speaker has come to speak during the weekly meeting of the Hinesville Rotary Club.
Pirkola talked with the club about her experience as part of the Georgia Rotary Student Program.
Because of GRSP, she got the opportunity to come to the United States for a year long visit with a host family while attending a Georgia college or university.
Students in GRSP also gather for conferences during their stay, where they meet others in the program.
"One of the great things about GRSP is, of course you get to meet a lot of Americans, but you get to meet a lot of students from all over the world."
Ray Pittman from Richmond Hill Rotary has been hosting Pirkola and introduced her to the Hinesville club.
He explained how the program not only reflects rotary clubs in the state, but gives the international participants a lasting impression of the United States.
"What they see on the news over in Europe and other places is very different from what you see in our families," Pittman said.
The 24-year-old arrived in August to complete an academic year at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
She is a marketing major at her home college in Helsinki, but earned an economics minor at AASU that is transferable.
Pirkola prepared a slideshow for Rotarians of her travels, new friends and celebrating different American holidays.
She was able to join the Lady Pirates basketball team as a walk-on and enjoyed all the campus life activities of an American college.
"I can say I definitely enjoyed being here," Pirkola said. "It's been really great."
"I would say the best thing about the whole year is all the people I've met," Pirkola said.
Though she has visited the United States before, her stay with the GRSP has her thinking about coming back.
She told Rotarians she was considering attending Georgia State University for a master's degree in sports administration, a major that is not available in her country.
 

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