Standing in the courtyard of the new Marriott Courtyard left to right are Bill Edwards, consulting architect; Debbie Goodman, Rotary Club member; Jeremy Emmett, hotel developer; Terry Gordon, GRSP Treasurer; Wallace Goodman, Rotary Club member; Mike Sweigart, GRSP Vice-Chairman; Meg Sweigart, friend of GRSP; Scott Rich, Rotary Club member and GRSP Trustee; Tom Faircloth, hotel developer consultant and Past President of the Thomasville Club; and Jackie Ellis Johnson, hotel design consultant.
Friday afternoon, October 16, members of the Thomasville Rotary Club and others toured the Marriott Courtyard Hotel under construction at the corner of Dawson and Remington streets in Thomasville, Georgia. Developers of the new hotel are allowing Georgia Rotary to help design the entry plaza as a tribute to the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP) and the fountain as a memorial to the GRSP founder.
GRSP was founded by Thomasville, Georgia resident and Rotarian and Past District Governor William A. (Will) Watt. Having seen the damage of war in Europe, he founded the organization in the spring of 1946 at the end of WWII as a way to support world peace. It was his belief that “Peace through understanding” would be possible if students from foreign countries came to Georgia colleges and universities to study and develop a better understanding of their fellow man.
Each year, GRSP students from all over the world come to Georgia to study. These students make friends and learn about differing cultures and lifestyles. Georgia Rotarians believe “Peace is Possible,” through GRSP as the organization promotes international goodwill through friendship and understanding. The students become adopted members of a Georgia “host family,” living on-campus at the college or university they attend. GRSP is an ambassadorial scholarship program.
Since the founding, 3,791 students have participated in the GRSP program from all around the world. Rotary members in Rotary Districts 6900, 6910, and 6920 have donated over $12,000,000 to GRSP. The hotel plaza will be named the GRSP Peace Plaza with the theme, GRSP Generations of Generosity. The fountain will be named in recognition of William A. Watt, the founder of GRSP. Plans call for a Peace Dove to be woven into the design. Over 200 Rotary Clubs in Georgia support the program through dues, and members and friends support the program through donations.