Post by Aziza Tarikh from University of California, Santa Cruz
Botswana has been gentle and kind with me. I came here with no expectations and I'm starting to finding myself. I know I have a little bit more time before I have to go back to California, but I feel so rewarded already. I have made close friends and have become more independent than I have ever been in my life.
My overall experience has been positive, although I have had challenges. Being an American in a foreign country is something that I've never experienced before, but being Black American in a foreign country adds a completely different layer altogether. I think it's actually very common that African Americans feel a certain attachment to Africa as a whole. We identify it as the "Motherland", some place where most of us have never been and it's very abstract. Coming here, I was searching for myself, trying to piece together the African part of my identity. And after being here for a month, I was surprised by what I've found. My knowledge and world views have definitely expanded and I will never think of Africa as just one big place again. It's filled with so many different types of people and culture. I've learned that African is not a homogenous word. I'm still searching though, for the missing part of me that was ruthlessly denied and stolen from me and my people: my identity and the identity of my ancestry. I might not find what I'm looking for in Bots, but my realizations were founded here, and I will also continue to search until I find what's been stolen.
They say America is so fast paced where life moves quick and that here in Bots life is slower paced, but I literally feel like time is flying by here. I've been to two weddings so far, which is two more than I've ever been to in my life. I've seen new beginnings to peoples' lives and have been able to be apart of such beautiful life events. I've been blessed to be around an amazing little girl ( Pelo, the daughter of my loving advisor Basetsana) and am here for a few months to be here to watch her grow, which is very heart-warming and reminds me of my two little sisters I had to leave back home.
Pelo and I (the beautiful daughter of my loving advisor)
I have made a new friendship with a CIEE driver named Bethel (pictured) who is such a kind and generous soul.
Bethel and I riding around the city
I'm so excited for our upcoming trip with all the CIEE kids to Namibia on September 30th! My friends (pictured: Morgan, Isaiah, and Keante) have been a true blessing. I hope our friendship can surpass these 4 and a half months of being in Bots and is able to last for a long time.
Attending a wedding with my friend Morgan
Camping at Notwane with Isaiah and Keante
I also am so grateful to be apart of the BOSASNet team as an intern! My coworkers are so AMAZING! I absolutely adore them and am already feeling sad just thinking about leaving in December.
My BOSASNet Team
So far, I've been apart of research for a conference that will take place in October, have been featured on the radio here in Gaborone, and have written an article for Gabs' infamous tabloid "The Voice".I can feel myself growing as a person and I plan to make the best out of my experience here. #WAYUPIFEELBLE$$ED