It has been said that adventure is the best way to learn. Few could argue the truth of this statement, but how many of us would actually pack our bags and move across the world?
Meet Henriette Ebbesen, a native of Denmark who is currently studying at Georgia Southern University, thanks to the Georgia Rotary Student Program. Ebbesen is the daughter of two medical doctors, and she and her brother and sister grew up learning the traditional Danish values of responsibility and self-reliance. Her parents taught their children to be independent, to constantly strive for excellence, to be open-minded and to welcome challenges with a positive outlook.
These values have been instrumental in the success of all three of Liselotte and Ebbe Ebbesen's children. Troels, 19, won Denmark's big mathematics competition last year and is a trainer for the local kayaking club. Elisabeth, 13, excels in academics and is a competitive swimmer, winning several medals at Danish championships and qualifying for Nordic and European championships. Henriette, 21, was instrumental in starting the Rotaract club at Georgia Southern University. She is a member of GSU's Swim Club and takes frequent trips to see other areas of the United States, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She completed her first year of medical school in Copenhagen but chose to change things up at GSU, instead taking courses in painting, drawing, photography, art history and philosophy.
"I have developed a lot on the creative side during this year," Ebbesen said. "An important goal of mine is to always make an effort to save time to be creative, even though I am going into the medical field."
Ebbesen says that in her household, education has always been a high priority. She attributes much of her quest for knowledge to her parents.
"My parents have never been afraid to challenge themselves," she said.
When Ebbesen was 4 years old, her family moved to Greenland for three months, sparking her passion for seeing and experiencing life in other countries. Now 21, she has visited 28 countries. At age 16, she spent one year in Argentina through the Rotary Youth Long-Term Exchange Program.
"The experience gave me an understanding of the Argentinian way of life, but also an understanding of the diversity in our world and how identical people actually are, even though we may live in opposite parts of the world," she said.
Ebbesen feels the Georgia Rotary Student Program has similarly given her an amazing opportunity to understand and be part of the American culture. Throughout her travels she seeks to be an ambassador for Denmark, exchanging culture and building lasting friendships while growing personally and academically.
After her stay in the U.S. is complete, Ebbesen will return to medical school in Copenhagen. She is unsure of what field she will go into but is currently interested in neurology, medical research, plastic surgery and psychiatry.
"Whether I would like to work in a private clinic or public hospital, I am not sure," Ebbesen said, "but I do know that I would like to work as a volunteer in disaster areas or developing countries. I could also imagine myself working and living in countries other than Denmark, such as the U.S."
The Downtown Rotary Club of Statesboro is proud to call Ebbesen part of its family. Regardless of what region of the world and field of medicine she eventually selects, she will contribute a unique blend of diversification, positivity and intelligence.