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3 posts from November 2014


Fall 2014 Issue III: Fun in Serowe


CIEE Group pic 2CIEE students Zoe, Ashley, Sierra, Katherine, and Shunese, and CIEE staff Basetsana Maposa, Tanya Phiri and Gaone Manatong relax at Khama Rhino Sanctuary


On Saturday, October 18th, twenty CIEE students, two staff members, one intern, and four local student volunteers headed up to Serowe for a jam-packed weekend!

Here’s what’s in this issue:

History of Serowe and Khama Rhino Sanctuary
All Fun and Games
A Night Out
Khama III Memorial Museum Tour


Getting up at 6:30 AM to catch a 7 AM bus is something no one looks forward to, but we did it anyway. Leaving Gaborone that early, we were in Serowe at Khama Rhino Sanctuary by lunch hour. Serowe is one of the largest villages in Botswana, home to over 40,000 people. It is around 4 hours north of Gaborone, Botswana's capital, in between Gaborone and Francistown. Serowe is famous for being the home of the Bangwato, the tribe of three of the country's four Presidents since Independence in 1966, Sir Seretse Khama, Festus Mogae and current President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.


Serowe has many cultural attractions. One of the most popular is the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, located 20 km outside of Serowe, on the way to the mining town, Orapa.


According to its website, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS) "is a community based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources. Covering approximately, 8585 hectares of Kalahari Sandveld, the sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds."

The Serowe excursion combines fun and education, as we begin the weekend with an overnight and game drive at Khama Rhino Sanctuary and visit the Khama III Memorial Museum on Sunday before driving back south to Gaborone.


After checking in at the reception, we jumped into safari vehicles and headed off to have lunch, which was delicious. After lunch, everyone was ready to relax so we went to our camping site where we were allocated a few rooms that had three bunk beds in each and two shared showers and two toilets. Student volunteers were distributed accordingly in each room with students.


We had about two hours of free time to shower, take naps, and just relax before having our planned activities. We brought along a few balls, a skipping rope, a frisbee, and there was a trampoline at the site which the students decided to use their free time reminiscing their gymnastics days on it.

Trampoline maniaOur students are quite the acrobats!

All fun and games

It was nice to have a few hours of outside relaxation before the post-dinner game drive. After spending most of their time indoors at the University of Botswana, the students were happy to be active and breathing some fresh country air.

To spice the afternoon up, Resident Director Basetsana Maposa announced the next activity: Serowe's Got Talent! A panel of judges was selected and individuals competed for the top prize - GLORY!

There was so much talent unleashed and so many surprises. Almost everyone went up on stage performing songs, rapping, dancing, pretending to be combi drivers, swimming in the air, and hitting themselves with frisbees---yes that happened. Many students performed in duos or groups; some students felt they had so much to show so they went up not once, or twice, but multiple times. Gaone, CIEE's intern, made a great host as she kept the show running and the crowd much entertained with her humor and presence. The judges were Lebogang, one of the student volunteers, who went by Lebang bang; Braeden, who went by a weird name we cannot remember, and Alaina who was just herself. The judges were given a chance to lay out their opinions on the performances and they did not hold back. The show was thrilling and well-delivered.

Spectators and judges

Luckily, we captured all of the great talent on video (and some of the not-so-talented, but don't worry - we will keep those a secret!).







Needless to say, "Serowe's Got Talent" was a great success. Everyone was so spectacular that the judges were unable to crown a winner. After the talent show, we all headed to dinner and got ready for our night game drive.


After the earlier shenanigans, everyone was excited to get out on a game drive and experience the nocturnal wildlife at Khama Rhino. It didn't disappoint! It was challenging to get good photos in the dark, but the students still managed to capture the rhinos we saw and an owl. One safari car even saw a leopard, but it was too quick for photos!

Khama Rhino boasts both black rhinos and white rhinos. Black rhinos are known to be more aggressive. KRS only has 4 black rhinos, whereas they have 30 white ones. Despite the names, there is no difference in color between white and black rhinos. The main physical difference is the shape of their mouths. Black rhinos are browsers, which means that they eat leaves off of trees and bushes, not from the ground. Their mouths are smaller and hook-shaped to allow them to do so. White rhinos are grazers, so they have a broad, flat mouth that allows them to easily eat grass.

100_7797Two white rhinos in the bush

Rhinos are approaching extinction due to poaching. Their horns are valuable as they are thought to be an aphrodisiac  in some cultures. KRS has employed a rhino breeding program to assist rhinos to replenish their numbers and eventually release them back into their natural habitat throughout Botswana.

In addition to rhinos, KRS has numerous impala, wildebeests, jackals, antelopes and other small animals. We learned all about these animals on our drive. But one of the animals that are only seen on night drives are owls, as they are nocturnal. We were lucky enough to see a beautiful owl perched on a tree.

The owlA beautiful owl spotted on a tree branch

The game drive was a great end to a fun day!


To put an educational end on a fun-filled weekend, we headed to Khama III Memorial Museum on Sunday morning after breakfast. We were all eager to visit the historical sites. The Museum's namesake, Khama III, was Sir Seretse Khama's grandfather. Sir Seretse Khama was Botswana's first President after Independence. The museum houses history and artifacts of all times and populations in Botswana, but focuses mostly on the Bangwato tribe and Serowe.

We began the tour by looking at old photos of Serowe that depicted the development of the village from a primarily agrarian society to the more town-like village that we see today.

At the museumTodd, Braeden, Basetsana, Laone, Alaina and Angie moving through the museum

The subsequent rooms we toured through included artifacts of the San people, the earliest inhabitants of Botswana, Bessie Head, a famous novelist chronicling her experiences in South Africa and Botswana, and the Setswana traditional household setting (the cattle post, the fields, the village, and more).

In the traditional household setting, a Motswana family has multiple homesteads. The women usually stay in the village raising the children. During planting and harvesting times, they also work at the fields. Men primarily spend their time at the cattle post. Although life is different in the city, many Batswana continue to live in this traditional way.


San artifacts: bows and arrows that they hunt with, leather clothing, and jewelry made from ostrich shells

100_7920Laone, Basetsana, Tanya, Gabrielle, Sierra, Todd, Lauren, Molly and Chelsey learning about the paintings and replicas of the traditional Setswana household setting

Artifacts on the wallTraditional baskets made by local artists

Students enjoyed earning about parts of the history of Botswana that they hadn't been exposed to before the tour.

From the museum, we left for the royal cemetery, which is about 5 minutes drive from the museum. We walked up the hill to the cemetery which has a beautiful view of the village. The cemetery has graves of the first president of Botswana and his wife, past chiefs, their wives, and children. They have been decorated with stones and artificial grass. In consideration of respect for the people buried in the cemetery, we were not allowed to take photos on that part of the tour. After a good history lecture of the cemetery, everyone was ready to head back to the bus and leave for Gaborone.

CIEE group picAlex, Alaina, Basetsana, Mikayla, Ashley, Katherine, Sierra and Angie traveling from lunch to the dorms at Khama Rhino

Thank you for following us again! Until next time, sala sentle (stay well)!


Life as a Vegetarian in Botswana












Post by Sierra Cotrona from University of Rochester

"You're crazy." That's the response I got when I told my parents that I wanted to study abroad in Botswana. It’s the response I got when I told my family, my friends, my professors. In retrospect, even the idea of me, a vegetarian, studying abroad in Botswana probably was a little crazy. All of the research my family and I did told us that Botswana was a country that used meat as a food staple, and that I would not easily be able to find things to eat. Yet, as I was getting ready to leave the United States and come to this country, it was not a concern, or even really a thought of mine.

2014-11-05 20.25.57Who knew I would find food like this in Botswana?

Upon arrival, I realized that being a vegetarian did, in fact, make me even more of a minority. When I told my homestay family that I didn't eat meat, it seemed to be an absolutely foreign concept. Sure, they knew that I didn't eat meat in its physical form. Yet they still cooked with beef stock and used the same serving spoon to serve my vegetables as they did to serve their meat. My first week or two was really rough here; I did get sick a lot and I wasn't getting enough protein or iron. I expected my entire time here to be the same way my first week was.

2014-11-05 20.20.38 A typical vegetarian plate

Very soon after, I moved into another homestay. In this new place, my homestay mother better understood my needs as a vegetarian. She bought me beans and a lot of soy products, and she has been careful not to cross-contaminate with the meat she makes for herself. On campus, I am able to eat beans from vendors outside the gates, vegetables and some sort of carbohydrate from the dining hall, phaphatas with eggs from the student center, and a variety of snack foods from Shoppers (the campus mini market).

2014-11-05 20.31.40Beans from the vendors

Whenever I've attended large cookouts with traditional foods here (they're called braais), I've never had too much of a problem with trying to find food. There have always been salads available, as well as other various vegetables. Sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, beans and different kinds of squash are always available. One of Botswana's traditional foods, chakalaka, is made with carrots. Additionally, I'm able to eat the basic pap and sorghum as long as it hasn't been mixed with meat. Coleslaw is also a popular dish that has been served at almost every braai.

2014-11-05 20.24.22Salads from a braai

Overall, many people were expecting me to come back from my semester twenty pounds lighter because no one thought I would be able to eat anything. It is true that Botswana was labeled a "meat country" by American informational websites. However, I haven't experienced a shortage in finding foods that I am able to eat as a vegetarian. In fact, I haven't thought about the food I've eaten, a sign that I have been able to find plenty of edible vegetarian foods. I have been able to satiate my appetite while happily remaining a vegetarian here in Botswana.



Classes at University of Botswana

  Ciee picture







Post by Marie Duchesneau from Babson College

When I made my decision to study abroad in Botswana, surprisingly the differences in educational styles did not even cross my mind. There are many differences between my classes here and my classes at my home university that I was not expecting. At my school at home, most of my classes have online information about the class on the website Blackboard. My classes at the University of Botswana use a combination of Blackboard, although it has a different setup than Blackboard at home, and another site called Moodle. At the beginning of the semester, I would forget to check them. However, after learning to adjust to school here, I realized that checking them was necessary and it became a habit.





Additionally, the style in which papers are supposed to be written is very different from what I am used to, but I found that if you ask teachers questions about what they are expecting, they are happy to help. Teachers also strongly encourage students to go to office hours if they are confused about anything. With some small changes, I found that adapting to the learning style in Botswana was not too difficult.

Image4Lecture-style classroom in Block 252, near the student center

Something I was not expecting was standing out so much in my classes.  If teachers are asking students about their opinions on a particular issue, it is not uncommon for a teacher to single me out and ask me for the American perspective. While at first it was frustrating to feel like I was expected to speak on behalf of an entire country, I soon realized that the teachers are well-intentioned and are just excited to have international students in their class.

Image4The Business Block

Classes are a great way of meeting new people at school. I have a mix between classes that are primarily freshman and classes that are primarily upperclassmen and have noticed big differences between the two. My classes with a lot of first year students are great because my classmates were also new to UB and were eager to make new friends. Therefore they were very approachable and would often start conversations with me because they were very curious about life in America. I felt like I got a lot of attention from them simply for being an international student. This is very different from my classes with mostly upperclassmen. Although they were still very friendly and nice to me, I found that in these classes people had already established friendships with people they had been in school with for years and generally did not feel the need to make new friends. While it was more work to make new friends in these classes, it was also nice to just be treated like a normal student.

Overall I am very happy with my teachers and classes at University of Botswana.  With some patience and small adjustments, the differences between college here and at my college at home were very manageable.

Image4Block 247, where the CIEE offices are!