Jet lag after arriving on Friday from Sri Lanka is just one of many experiences Tehara Dalpethado expects to have in the next nine months.
An incoming student at Georgia Gwinnett College, Dalpethado is the recipient of a cultural scholarship from the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County (Georgia, US — District 6910) to attend GGC this academic year.
Dalpethado plans to study finance and eventually pursue an MBA, but this is her first visit to the US.
She outlined her native country and childhood in two videos and a short talk on Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Gwinnett during its weekly meeting at The 1818 Club.
As part of the programme, Dalpethado will live on campus at GGC, but also have a host family and other assistance from the Rotarians as she takes in the American culture.
On Tuesday, she was expected to attend an Atlanta Braves game.
Dalpethado was paired with the Gwinnett Rotary through a lottery system as part of the Georgia Rotary Student Programme. To be a part of the GRSP, students must pass academic and English proficiency qualifications.
Rotarian Paige Havens, who introduced Dalpethado and the GRSP programme at the meeting, said the GRSP is designed to break down myths and misconceptions about the American culture, and to better understand the native cultures of students like Dalpethado.
There are 3,100 alumni in the programme since it began more than 70 years ago.
“To build cultural understanding, there could not be a more important time than now to really do this,” Havens said.
Dalpethado recently saw her brother for the first time in three and a half years.
He attended Kennesaw State University, received an MBA from the University of Alabama, and now works in the Atlanta area for PricewaterhouseCooopers.
Dalpethado said this is the first time she will study abroad and live abroad, so she’s planning to use the time to get to know herself better.
“I consider myself an introvert, but I’m sure once you all get to know me, you’ll beg me to shush,” she said.
The 23-year-old said she wants to explore other avenues and has high ambitions.
“I’m beginning to grow into this country, and I think it’s a beautiful country,” Dalpethado said.
Dalpethado described the Sri Lanka people as ‘focused in a narrow perspective’, and she looked forward to learn and understand about other peoples’ races, religion, class and creed.
“I’m really happy, because I’m hoping this will give me the opportunity to be able to deal with anyone I meet in my future,” she said. “Help me talk to anyone and handle any situation.”
Source: The Gwinnett Daily Post