Live from Estonia! GRSP Student Uku Urb Shares His Unusual Year

President Paige introduced Mr. Uku Urb, a member of the Georgia Rotary Student Program–GRSP RY19-20, as our speaker. Uku has attended many meetings during his GRSP time in the USA while a student at Clayton State University. He said this year in the USA, studying and through his participation in GRSP, made 2019-20 the best year of his life. He used several slides to describe the year. He began by noting that he and many of his fellow countryman hold a stereotypical image of Americans as very large white males, somewhat obese, which was altered quickly as the great numbers of the people met in college and throughout Georgia, were not all white, not all male, and not all obese! Though he noted that as a car-based society, Americans show that they do not get exercise compared to Estonians who walk almost everywhere or use public transportation. Further, he was also positively impressed with the politeness and friendliness of Americans, whereas in Estonia he says one is never greeted in public and retail establishments with smiling faces, or positive brief friendly conversations. He said he thinks some of the reserved if not terseness of Estonians is owing to the negative shadow cast upon Estonian people by the former Soviet Union, now Russia, whom Estonians view with huge negativity … though he said he was surprised at the more expressive antipathy towards Russia by Americans, as evidenced in his college course work. He said these openly hostile views aimed at Russia by Americans would not be permitted in Estonia. Uku also said the Estonians are not hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement. He said, however, most protest in Estonia appears through petitioning and through lawsuits where the chances of results are more likely. Regarding gun violence in the U.S., this is non-existent in Estonia largely due to the paucity of guns, in fact, it is very hard to obtain a gun in Estonia. Uku greatly appreciated the embrace of him and all GRSP students, and especially what he received from our own Elma McCutchen. Also he expressed appreciation of Mr. Terry Schaede of the Airport Rotary Club, Ms. Clare Chapman of the Senoia Rotary Club, and Mr. Kerry Arnold, who served as trustee and coordinated the work of the four Rotary Clubs supporting Uku. This added significantly to the joy of being in the U.S. Uku said he loved and was so grateful for the diversity of Clayton State, especially the very substantial numbers of people of color – nothing like that to compare in Estonia. He’s remarkably at ease and skillful in speaking English. But in college coursework, because he did not develop his English speaking ability through American English, he said it was hard to convert U.S. syntax and punctuation to what he’d been taught. With that exception he found his courses at Clayton State not to be difficult. He reported all his experiences with GRSP and in other events with Rotary including AWER meetings to always be interesting,purposeful, never boring. He feels very sad at having had to leave the U.S. without any conclusion as had been planned for GSRPdue to the pandemic – everyone just drifted away with no way to say goodbye. He said he’d been planning a West Coast trip with his GRSP buddies, but that was cancelled. He plans to extend his college work this coming year and wishes it could be at Clayton State, but the costs of college in the U.S. compared to Europe where college costs almost zero make it highly unlikely that he will extend his education in the U.S. His eye is now on a prominent university in France.,

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
June 19, 2020 2:00pm


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