Post by Michelle Gillette from Susquehanna University
With studying abroad comes many changes. One that has been the most interesting to adjust to here in Botswana has been the food. Don’t get me wrong--there are many amazing delicacies & snack foods here, but at the same time there are quite a few interesting edible items. For example the picture of me above is a picture that was taken as I was trying a worm. (It was cooked, and tasted like tree bark with spikes on it).
Let’s start with the good stuff: fat cakes, phalache, LiquiFruit, Simba Chips and peanuts, and lots of meat (seswaa in particular). Some not so good: serobe, chicken neck, ox-liver pasta, unknown parts of chickens/cows showing up on your plate, and the worms. Most of these traditional Setswana delicacies are mixed together at a meal. The great thing is that these Setswana meals we do not depend on for our sole survival. If you go out to eat at the many restaurants around Gaborone you can find just about anything you would want to eat.
I have noticed that two of the main food groups here are meat and carbohydrates, whether or not you go out to eat. If you are looking for fruits and vegetables the ones I have noticed the most are apples and bananas, and the occasional side salad.
Here is a picture of what you would expect to eat while dining at one of the more touristy spots. This meal is one we had at Mokolodi Game Reserve, complete with three servings of meat, garlic bread, phalache with a sauce for flavoring, salad LiquiFruit (and other canned drinks) and water to drink.
Like I said, you can pretty much find any kind of food you would like to eat while going out to eat. There is pizza, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, seafood, burgers, breakfast items, and anything else.
This meal was perhaps one of my favorites here from a Brazilian style restaurant called Rodizio’s. Chicken and seafood, along with rice and chips (French fries) and a salad. One of the crazy things about eating here is the price of food. A plate with all that food you would expect to pay probably close to $30 or more for in America, but here I got all that great food, plus a cocktail for less than $20.
While dining at a place on campus one time I was offered serobe. I said yes and after eating a bite of this rubbery meat was told that it is cow stomach and intestines. Setswana culture does not believe in wasting any part of the cow (some vendors on the streets even sell keychains made out of cow bone).
I guess the point I’m trying to get across here is that when you come to Botswana you get to try many new foods while still enjoying your old favorites as well. During my weekend homestay I got to enjoy a really good breakfast I cooked for myself. I recommend trying everything at least once, just to say you tried it though, and who knows you might end up loving it!
We welcomed twelve (12) ladies and one (1) gentleman who flew into the beautiful country of Botswana on January 12th 2015. They were eager start a new chapter of their lives and enrich their life experiences thousands of miles away from their homes.
CIEE Gaborone staff and student volunteers welcomed our Spring 15 students at Oasis Motel for their first night here in Gaborone. Those who arrived early got a chance to relax by the pool and swim while having some cold drinks under the sun. That evening, we had a meet and greet where everyone sat around a table mingling while having a delicious dinner. The students seemed a little tired from their long travels so we let them rest in order to recharge for the week ahead.
TOP: Air Botswana flight, BOTTOM; Entrance of Oasis Motel
University of Botswana 'Olympic size' pool
We have student volunteers who assist our students throughout orientation. They are involved in many activities and do a great job helping the students get around. When the students arrive, the volunteers help transfer them from the airport to the hotel at different hours, help them sign in and out of the hotel, and help them move in to their dorms. Student volunteers also take the student to the mall on their second day in Botswana to get some essentials such as food, hangers, fans, adapters, and more. These are different for home-stay students who already have many of those items at home.
CIEE Student Volunteers and Spring 2015 students having lunch at Botswana Craft
And They All Attended Seminars
The second day is when it all begins. Whilst our volunteers are assisting dorm students with their move-ins and getting linen from the laundry, the non-dorm students attend a workshop on dealing with home-stay.
University of Botswana Freshman Dorms entrance
Later that evening, the home-stay students got a chance to meet their families during the handover held by Mma Bianca. They also got to go home and sleep on their beds where they will be living for the semester ahead.
Mma Bianca during the Homestay Handover with homestay with students and families
Throughout the course of orientation, our students had the opportunity to be informed about Botswana and its culture as much as possible for them to get around in the months they will be studying here.
left: Students in a lecture theatre during orientation presentation, Right: Homestay Handover Icebreaker
Early orientation sessions covered important safety, health and security considerations when living in Gaborone. CIEE staff led sessions in which the students participated in coordinating by acting out some scenarios.
CIEE students acting out safety & security scenarios
Rather than only sitting through sessions on essentials of life in Gaborone, the students got unique perspectives of the culture they were entering through interesting lectures given by University of Botswana professors. Dr. Gumbo from the Department of History gave a lecture on "Historical Perspective of Botswana and the Southern African Region." Dr. Maude Dikobe from the English Department gave a lecture on "Race, Gender, Ethnicity and Class in Botswana." Finally, Dr. Seloma from the Department of African Languages and Literature talked with the students about the "Evolution of Setswana Culture."
Left: Students in a lecture room, Right: Dr. Dikobe giving a presentation
Lastly, Mophato Dance group held a workshop on "Significance of Dance in Botswana Culture and Dance."
And They All Ate
CIEE Students Anna Koozmin, Sarah Neff, Jasmine Williams, and Breanna Wille having lunch at Moghul Campus Cafeteria
During orientation, we visited a few local restaurants for different occasions, such as: the first night meet and greet in Oasis Motel, the local food lunch at Botswana Craft, the welcome dinner at Gaborone Sun, and daily meals in Moghul campus cafeteria.
CIEE Staff, students, and student volunteers having lunch at Botswana Craft
The students got a chance to taste all kinds of foods from the different restaurants. Some foods were local dishes, such as: Seswaa (pounded beef), Phaleche (maize meal), Morogo wa dinawa (bean leaves), Koko ya Setswana (Tswana chicken), Bogobe jwa lerotse (melon porridge), and mophane worms. Other foods we ate are influenced by western culture, such as: pasta, rice, chicken stew, salads, desserts, and more.
CIEE staff, students, and students volunteers having lunch at Botswana Craft
CIEE Staff, students, and student volunteers having dinner at Gaborone Sun
A nice end to the hectic week of lectures and sessions was the Welcome Dinner at Gaborone Sun's Savuti Grill. At Botswana Craft earlier in the week, we had a taste of traditional food. Whereas, at Gaborone Sun we had a mixture of western dishes as well as other cuisines such as Indian curries, Naan bread, and Asian stir fries. The welcome dinner was serene and low key; everyone enjoyed having a day to eat out and have a relaxed evening following a whole week of running around.
And They All Saw the City
CIEE students Juliana White, Tierra Holmes, and Victoria Engelhard in front of the Three Chiefs Monument
On Friday of Orientation Week, the office of International Education and Partnerships organized a city bus tour for all new international students at the University of Botswana. They toured the city in a big open city safari-like bus. They visited major sites in the city, including: the Three Chiefs Monument, the Parliament, and Botswana craft. They stopped to get a background of each place from experts there and had a few moments to snap some photos.
Botswana Craft main entrance
Front of The Botswana Parliament
And They All Danced
Lights, Cameras, Action! Our students proved to us that they have a fun side. We had a dance group come in for a workshop called "The Significance of Dance in Botswana Culture." The local group is called Mophato Dance Group; they perform all forms of dance from traditional, to modern, to contemporary, and jazz. The students learned all about local dance and music. They participated as they were given the floor to show their undeniable skills.
TOP: Dance Instructor Heath with CIEE students, BOTTOM: CIEE students Andrew and Sarah
CIEE students in Heath's Dance workshop
We also attended the welcome reception by the Office of International Education and Partnerships (OIEP) held at the Library auditorium in UB. There were performers, speakers, dancers, food, music, and a lot of mingling. A fun night it was! Our students were officially welcomed into the University by the OIEP staff and representatives. We all enjoyed performances from local traditional music artists, traditional dancers (a group called Makwakwa), as well as a free-styling moment in which our students did not hold back. They were invited on stage to dance and enjoy the night away.
Makwakwa (Local Traditional Group) and UB International students dancing
And They All Raced
We think it is best to explore Gaborone in small groups and use public transportation to understand how to get around. This time around, we put a little bit of pace and asked the students to compete in The Amazing Race!
CIEE students Breanna, Heather, and Juliana in front by the national stadium_Team Yellow
The teams collected pictures that they felt best described Africa/Botswana in a positive aspect. They traveled around Gaborone in combi (small 15-passenger vans) and taxis racing for the prize with the help of our student volunteers.
The CIEE staff was located at different points around the city with more clues to give to the runners. Basetsana (CIEE staff) and Gaone (CIEE intern) were at the starting point and gave the teams a brief about the race before blowing the whistle. They gave them clues to meet Masa (CIEE intern) who gave them instructions on what to do. The teams started at different times since other teams had members missing. A late start did not stop anyone from fighting for the grand prize, however!
The next clues and instructions were given out by Amelia Plant (CIEE staff), Luisure Nkete (student volunteer), Lerato phiri (student volunteer), and Tanya Phiri (CIEE staff) in main mall, and Masa Centre respectively.
CIEE Students, from left, Tierra Holmes, Tyler Menz, Victoria Engelhard, Andrew Martinez_Team Alpha Purple
Included in the race, the teams had to locate locals who had on their team colours and interview them about what Botswana and Africa means to them.
Team Alpha Purple: Student volunteer Keamogetse, CIEE students Tierra, Andrew, Tyler, and Victoria
Our students managed to take pictures, videos, learn about the people and the city, while having fun racing for the grand prize. Below are the videos from Teams Green, Blue, Yellow and Purple.
As hectic as it was, students may have been overwhelmed by the many activities planned out for them but the week was very informative, fun, and memorable. They learned about Botswana culture and traditions from the seminars and lectures; they learned about Botswana music and dance; they were provided with conversational Setswana (just the little basics on how to say hello and how to respond when greeted). The students also had the opportunity to taste local foods and interact with locals during our Amazing race drill. What a week!
My name is Tierra Holmes. I am a senior English and Health Education double major from the United States. In addition to attending the University of Botswana, I am completing a 3 credit internship at Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinical Center of Excellence (BBCCCE). I act as a project assistant for two major projects: Genome Adventures and After School Program. When I first arrived in Botswana, I was extremely excited to begin my internship and start working on my assigned projects. However, there were additional things that needed to be done: we needed to review my syllabus and course objectives, finalize my work schedule and identify an academic advisor. My internship coordinator and project director agreed that my internship would officially begin the following week. So there I was, a bottle of excitement and anticipation shaken with enthusiasm and ready to burst. What will I do in the meantime? I would volunteer at the Morning PlayGroup.
The play sessions were a few times a week, from 9:00am-11:30am. All of the children who attended these sessions were patients at the clinic and infected with HIV. They needed someone to monitor the sessions, arrange the toys and play with the children who ranged from ages 7 -11. This was a new experience for me. Of course, I had played with children before but I never knowingly interacted with a child suffering from HIV. As an auntie, this experience challenged me personally, not just professionally as a volunteer.
My role as an auntie reminded me of my nieces and nephews. My role reminded me about the innocence of children and the ignorance of stigma. Most of the children being treated at BBCCCE are cared for by their aunties. Their aunties bring them to their monthly appointments, collect their medication, work hand in hand with the health care workers and so much more. As the children waited to be called inside the clinic, I played with them; I colored with and read to them. I laughed with them as I would laugh with my niece and I genuinely appreciated being in their presence. I was able to listen to the children speak Setswana, converse with one of the caregivers and practice the Setswana I did know. As an auntie, I refused to let a stigma dictate my interactions with innocent children.
The preconceptions and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS would encourage one to be hesitant about playing with such children. Sigma teaches us to soak our dishes in bleach after they have been used by an infected individual, to fear playing sports with HIV positive athletes and avoid intimate contact such as hugs and handshakes. We are constantly reminded to whisper about the elephant in the room instead of asking him how he got there. Meaning, we become content with not knowing the truth about HIV/ AIDS and how it is transmitted. I am proud that I decided to volunteer at Morning Playgroup while waiting for my internship to begin. By doing so, I learned that my willingness to treat everyone with tlotlo (respect) while seeking understanding is stronger than the stigma.
Here are some pictures from our play sessions in January: