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2 posts from September 2015

09/22/2015

Different, but Definitely Good

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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.

IMG_6649                                                            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.

IMG_6818                                                                                            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.


IMG_6660                                                                                Attending a wedding with my friend Morgan
IMG_6380                                                                            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.

Photo on 9-14-15 at 3.58 PM #4                                                                                                           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 



 

 

09/02/2015

Traversing the Country

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Post by Jake Budler from Wabash College

My first great adventure and cultural experience while studying abroad in Gaborone, Botswana occurred over the third weekend of the semester. Myself and two other students packed up our backpacks with food, water, sleeping bags, and a tent, and set off early on a Friday morning with the goal of (somehow) getting to Khutse Game Reserve, about four hours north of Gaborone in the central Kalahari.

After ten hours of exciting travel, we found ourselves at the gate of Khutse. In that span of time, we had taken two buses, hitchhiked in two different trucks, helped paint one house, and met many accommodating and interesting people. Upon arrival, we discovered that we would not be able to camp at Khutse as we were hoping to, due to their lion and leopard population (makes sense, right?) The incredibly helpful people who had taken us to Khutse took us back to a nearly village, Kaudwane (a small San bushmen settlement) and dropped us there. We were taken to meet the chief of the village, and then proceeded to barter a price to stay in the village’s community campsite.

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Following a night of relaxing camping (and the most incredible stars you will ever see) , we found a local with a truck to take us on a short game drive before heading back to Gaborone via several more truck beds and small buses. While the adventurous weekend was filled with many new experiences, it also gave me an incredible insight into the country of Botswana and its culture. In a span of around 40 hours, I used my still-limited Setswana numerous times to meet and converse with locals, I saw what village life was like in areas where there are extremely scarce supplies, and I learned about the history of the country and the politically sensitive nature of the San settlements from an wise elderly gentleman we met.

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 I think that the short time spent being self-sustaining and not having a plan or clue where we would end up next was an excellent way to gain an understanding of both Botswana and Batswana. Not only did I witness a completely different way of life than what I lead, I saw a way of life that works for many people. It is very eye-opening to learn that there are many different ways to live, and they might work as well as (or better in some ways) than what you are used to. I am looking forward to many more adventures and experiences throughout this semester, but I doubt they will be quite like this one.

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