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Spring 2016 Issue IV : Final Newsletter

Image1  S7Spring '16 - Son of the Soil Festival


We've come to the end of our Spring semester and its pretty insane how quickly the last five months have flown by. It wasn't too long ago we were at the airport anticipating arrivals, now we are get ready to say goodbye to dear friends. Despite the fast approaching fairwells, it is impossible to close this chapter without reminiscing on the wonderful times had with our Spring 2016 program. Here's a recap of the semester:

Welcome to Gabs
Exploring Botswana
Its More Than Just Giving Back
Its Never Goodbye, Just See You Later

Welcome to Gabs!

Our Spring Program consisted of 14 vibrant students from numerous universities throughout America. They arrived at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone and were greeted by our lovely volunteers and home stay families. The first night in our small city of Gabs was quite and allowed everyone to recoup from the long trips they just endured. 

The next morning was the beginning of our Orientation Week. Orientation is the most important period of our semester, not only do the students engage personally with the Resident Director and Program Assistant, they enjoy first hand information about the country, the city and culture and University. The essence of  Orientation is to ensure adequate cross-cultural integration for our new guests, which includes lifestyles, traditions, language, safety, food and music. The students are also have an opportunity to view the city, they took part in an Amazing Race : Combi Safari led by our student volunteers; this is an activity whereby the students use public transport throughout the city of Gaborone in small groups, whilst taking picture and enjoy the beauty of Gaborone just as the locals do. 

S1Traditional music lesson at Thapong Visual Arts Center

S7Exploring UB Campus

S8Green Team aka "The Winning Team" walking past Parliament during the Amazing Race : Combi Safari

S9Combi Selfies  

After a long week of Orientation, CIEE Gaborone staff, volunteers and students enjoyed a relaxing welcome dinner at Avani Hotel's Savuti Grill. This was an evening filled with many smiles, laughter and good food. A perfect end to the week and beginning of the semester. 

S2Genevieve, Tania Phiri, Madison and Abbie at the welcome dinner!

S6Eliza, Rati (Student Volunteer), Rachel and Lera (Student Volunteer) at the Spring '16 Welcome Dinner 

S10Resident Director's daughter Pelo stealing hearts at the Welcome Dinner!

All together now, Spring '16 group photo at the Welcome Dinner !

Exploring Botswana! 

Botswana is more than the hustle and bustle of Gabs city life! In addition to taking classes and regular college life, CIEE Gaborone has several planned excursions to get the students out of the comfortable city bubble. In addition to the Community Public Health site visits to clinics in and around greater Gabs, the students spend a week long home stay visit to a neighboring village, Kanye. This is an important part of the program as students are fully and truly immersed in Batswana culture by staying with a local family. 

The first excursion was to the Bahurutse Cultural Village. The weekend was filled with native dances around the fire, food made in true Tswana fashion and camping under the stars. The students got take part in a hike that led them to a wonderful gorge and fun-filled times. 

S3Traditional Dance at Bahurutse Cultural Village 

S5All Smiles at Bahurutse Cultural Village

S9Maddy enjoying the sun and trees during the hike!

The students also took a trip to a nearby private nature reserve, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, which provides game drives and rhino tracking in order to sustain its conservation efforts. The students enjoyed a relaxing and educative game drive and a scrumptious lunch!

S10Student Volunteers Rati and Entle at Mokolodi Nature Reserve with the Spring '16 group

S11Lunch is Served : Mokolodi Nature Reserve

Our Spring program was a lucky bunch as they came just in time for the 10 year anniversary of the Son of the Soil Festival. This festival celebrates Tswana culture and cuisine and achievements over the past 50 years. The students and staff, decked out in traditional attire, as they attended the event to celebrate Botswana, its people, and everlasting tradition!

S4Spring 2016 in their traditional outfits at Son of the Soil Festival

S13Jake enjoying some traditional tswana drinks in a stylish traditional cup!

S16Spring 2016 ladies having fun under the sun !

S14An explosive plate filled with delicacies : mopane worms, seswa, tswana chicken, beans and many more! Yum.

The students traveled further up north of Botswana to the Orapa Diamond Mine to view the countries most lucrative asset. They also took a trip to Serowe, a large village that houses the famous Khama III Memorial Museum and Khama Rhino Sanctuary to view the countries thriving rhino population. 

The end of semester trip is honestly one of the most amazing experiences for our students and staff. The 5 days are spent up north in Kasane, and one day at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The trip also included two nights in the Chobe Nature Reserve, which allows for a true view of nature at its best. The numerous game drives allowed everyone to view a plethora of animals, and we were lucky to see the entire big 5, not to mention a group of lions on a hunt! The experience was breathtaking and something to eternally cherish. 

S20Rachel and Deanna enjoying the boat cruise in Kasane!

S21Spring '16 enjoying a game drive in Chobe Nature Reserve  - check out the lions in the photo!

S22Spring 2016 students following a pride of lions on a hunt in Chobe Nature Reserve

Its More Than Just Giving Back

As much as the semester is jam packed with lessons, clinics, internships and excursions, CIEE Gaborone makes it a point to take time to give back to those less fortunate in our community. The students, with a little help from the program staff, organized a student led initiative or volunteer day, to assist a local community based organisation of their choice.

This semester, they chose Batlang Support Group; Batlang was founded in 2003 in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that was affecting the residents of Mogoditshane, a village on the outskirts of Gaborone. Batlang’s mission is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by educating their community in Mogoditshane about abstinence and proper use of protection. In addition to spreading awareness about the disease, Batlang Support Group serves as a daycare center for orphaned and vulnerable children. They have kids that range in age from 0 to 6.

Our students felt the best way to assist the organization was to revamp the premises, this included class rooms, and the playground! They did a spectacular job and ended the day with food and fun games with the kids and staff!

S34Spring 2016 Volunteer Day at Batlang Support Group

S32Two of our favorite painter, Jake and Justice 

S35Our cleaning crew doing an amazing job getting things together!


Its Never Goodbye, Just See You Later!

As we bring the semester to a close, wrapping up classes and moving out of home stays and dorms often brings a dark cloud over the good times we have had during the last couple of months. In order to keep the spirits up, we had a home stay farewell braii and a Great Gatsby themed Farewell Dinner. These turned out to be the most meaningful times we spent together as we not only had a good time with one another, but we were able to reminisce about the times that were, good, bad and those that grew us.

C2Rachel Mow looking super cute at our Great Gatsby themed Farewell Dinner!

C3Esther, Jake, Pelo, Deanna, Entle and Brenda at our great Gatsby themed Fairwell Dinner!


C5 Our ladies looked stunning at our Great Gatsby themed Farewell Dinner

As each student flies back to their respective home towns and universities, we here at CIEE Gaborone keep our doors constantly open to each and every individual; that being said, its never goodbye, just see you later. We hope to see you all back in Botswana in the near future. Till next time, Sala Sentle (Stay Well)!


Keeping Cool and Keeping Your Cool in Botswana

Nina 1

Post by Nina Walsh from Clark University 

Botswana is currently facing a serious drought, in addition to it being one of the warmest years. The sun is much stronger here than back in the United States, so it may take some time to adjust to this new climate. Additionally, experiencing certain stages of culture shock may have you feeling frustrated and uncomfortable. Here are a few tips to help you stay cool and keep your cool in Botswana.

Some Tips for Keeping Cool:

1. Purchase a fan.

As part of the CIEE orientation, you will get the chance to go shopping for necessities. Do yourself a solid, purchase a fan.

Nina 2Isnt she a beauty??

2. Go to UB’s swimming pool.

This beautiful facility is open from 2pm-7pm every day. It is the perfect way to cool off after class! As an added bonus, the locker room showers have great water pressure. *The majority of females wear one-piece bathing suits. So if you have one, bring it with you!

Nina 3Always look and feel your best by wearing your super flattering swim cap!
(But seriously, it’s required to swim in the pool)

3. Not a fan of chlorine??

Take a cold shower in the middle of the day. It will be your saving grace.

4. Do your homework in the air-conditioned buildings.

There are several of them on campus, including the International office (located in the Student Center) and the CIEE office (located in Block 247).

5. Freeze your water bottle at night.

If you are planning on living in the dorms, it is definitely a worthwhile investment to rent a fridge for the semester. Put your water bottle and a wet washcloth in the small freezer compartment and wake up to some cold water and a makeshift cold compress.

6. Wear light, breathable clothing.

This probably goes without saying, but be sure to leave your black, pleather bodysuit at  home

Some Tips for Keeping Your Cool:

1. Be friendly and open to meeting new people.

You will most likely be approached by a lot of people during your stay in Botswana. At times,   it may be overwhelming, but try your best to always     remain friendly. People are just curious.

 - Making local friends is a great way to get acquainted with the culture.
 - If people are really bothering you, just politely excuse yourself and walk away.
 *Helpful tip: Pay attention and remember people’s names. Chances are that you will  probably see them again when you least expect it.

2. Try something new.

Mix up your typical routine; walk a different route to class, start exercising (or change up your exercise routine) or join a sports team, go out to dinner, and/or talk to new people. Changing up your routine will offer a new perspective and it will allow you to take your mind off of whatever is     bothering you.

Nina 4Mix it up and start working out with your local friends!

3. Confide in your friends.

4. Remind yourself why you chose this program.

Whether the reason is social, academic, spiritual, personal, cultural, etc., there is something about this program that attracted you. This personal  reflection can be very rejuvenating throughout the semester.

5. Most importantly, LET IT GO.

Do not waste your energy dwelling on the negative. Things will happen that will be out of your control. You are in a new place to gain knowledge and understanding; do not let your negativity hinder this experience.
 - If you are feeling extra adventurous, I invite you to find humor in these moments of frustration/confusion/anger. Have a good, deep belly laugh and move on!

Living and learning in Botswana is an incredible experience. Take advantage of the limited time you have in this amazing country. There is so much to explore; don’t let the heat and/or culture shock hold you back!



Spring 2016 Issue III - A Trip Up North : Orapa-Serowe Excursion



This past weekend, CIEE staff and students enjoyed a wonderful weekend excursion to northern Botswana. They drove 6 hours north to Orapa (Botswana’s oldest and most successful mining town) and Serowe (Botswana’s largest village). All in all, it turned out to be an educative and enjoyable couple of days. Here’s what’s in this issue:-

Diamonds Are Forever!
Don't Move, There's A Rhino
Discovering Serowe's History

Diamonds Are Forever!


Our first stop was to Orapa - Botswanan’s mining capital. We departed from the University of Botswana at approximately 11 am, and enjoyed a 2hour drive north, to the small town of Mahalapye. We stopped to grab lunch for the day and snacks and treats for the remainder of the journey. With four more hours on the road, many played games and engaged in conversation till we finally arrived at our destination!

Debswana 2
Orapa is an extremely secure town. It produces an immense quantity of diamonds per annum (11 million carrats to be exact!) and as a result, it is the only town in the country that has 24 hour surveillance. Orapa was created as a result of diamonds being discovered in the area, the processing plant at Orapa processes the Ore minded at Orapa and two other mines namely Letlhakane and Dampthsaa Diamond Mines (that’s a lot of Diamond).

In order to enter the town, each individual must apply for a visitor’s permit prior to arrival (Program Assistant Tania Phiri did an awesome job ensuring we were all set), the permit is issued to at the entrance check-point. Each student and staff member was required to bring relevant identification before they could receive their permit. It was made very clear to us that if the permit for any reason was misplaced, we would not be able to EXIT the town!

The next morning, we woke bright an early for to begin the Mine tour. Before we entered the mine, we sat through an educative presentation about the discovery of diamonds in Botswana, the origins of the mine, its benefits to the people of Botswana and the economy, and safety and security measures that must be maintained whilst in the mine. As a precautionary measure, we were provided with protective mine gear which included mining overalls, a hard hat, protective goggles, and gloves! It was pretty exciting to dress like a miner for the day. Finally, We were ready to enter the mine!

Orapa 2Akira and Maddie before the mine tour in their protective gear!

Don't Move, There's a Rhino

Once we were done with the mine tour, we had a late lunch at Wimpy and where off to our new destination. Serowe Village is a two hour drive from Orapa, where we would be spending the night at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

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. The sanctuary provides a prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.

We arrived at 6pm and were allocated dormitories for the night. We had a wholesome dinner before departing on what turned out to be a remarkable night game drive.

12999675_10207699783905010_1079423755_oEliza, Maddie and Nina enjoying the night game drive at Khama Rhino Sanctuary!

We were lucky enough to spot several animals which included the glorious rhinoceros (they are massive when seen close up), impala, zebra, wildebeest, Jackals and many many more!

Orapa 1

A large Rhino we spotted on our game drive!

13000380_10207699783424998_920113659_oA group of Zebra seen grazing at Khama Rhino Sanctuary!

13010152_10207699783585002_1797967074_oAn impala we spotted during the night game drive!

This was indeed fulfilling as Khama Rhino Sanctuary is one of the only places you are guaranteed to see rhinos in Botswana. Despite the cold weather, we had a wonderful experience and the beautiful stars added to the picturesque escapade.


Discovering Serowe's History!

The next morning took us to a monumental location in Serowe, the Khama III Memorial Museum. The museum is one of the most sought out cultural attractions in the village and is loceated in the northwest region of the village, not too far from Thataganyane Hill. The museum was opened with the aim of promoting cultural awareness and pride among the people of Serowe. It was opened on 19th October 1985, and still serves as an educative center to many about the village of Serowe, its history and people. 

DSC_0086Khama III Memorial Museum 

Upon arrival at the museum, we were greeted by our friendly guide, KB. He did an excellent job reiterating the history of Serowe. He showed us distinct moments in the history of Serowe, the Khama family (which happens to be one of the most important dynasties in Southern Africa). The museum houses some personal artifacts of  Chief Khama III, his family and other significant memorabilia to the village of Serowe. The museum is extremely thorough with the information it holds, it has been used for research by many and was the cornerstone for information for the soon to be released blockbuster move : A United Kingdom!


DSC_0088KB explaining the history of Serowe to CIEE staff and Students

DSC_0095CIEE staff and students exploring the Musuem

Wonderful Display of Serowe's History at the Khama III Memorial Museum!

The museum is also home to famous writer and internationally acclaimed writer Bessi Head exhibit. The museum showcases a replica of Bessi Head's bedroom/office where she wrote some of her most famous stories and books. The images on the wall showcase her life and times spent in Serowe. The walls are decked out with some of her international awards and some of her important writings. 

After we explored the museum we were taken on a tour of the Thataganyane Hill, which ended with us at the the royal cemetery where Khama III and some of his descendants have been laid to rest. Overall the trip was packed with wonderful sights and was a great highlight of a couple of Botswana's hidden gems. Till next time Sala Sentle (Stay Well).

DSC_0109Student Volunteer Entle and Deanna outside Khama III Memorial Museum


A Mid-Semester Break Spent Exploring Southern Africa


Rachel 1

Post by Rachel Mow from Harvey Mudd College

At the halfway point in the semester we are given a week off of school, which means a week free to travel. A group of us decided this was an excellent time to experience as much of Southern Africa as possible in a nine day period. We hired our favorite cab driver, Bethel, to drive us in his minivan to our locations of choice. The first stop was Swakopmond, which is an adorable beach town in Namibia. The town had a beautiful path leading several miles along the beach, restaurants and cafes with real coffee, and tons of shops perfect for buying gifts and souvenirs. Swakopmond is also famous for its sand dunes, which are a quick drive from the town center. We decided the best way to experience the dunes was to ride ATVs and sand board. It turns out that sandboarding involves laying on a thin sheet of plywood and being shoved face first down an incredibly steep sand dune.

Rachel 2Riding ATVs through the Sand Dunes of Namibia

After experiencing Swakopmond, we continued the trek along the Caprivi Strip and into Zambia to see Victoria Falls. The campsite we stayed at on the Caprivi Strip was on the mouth of the Okovango River. A family of four hippos resided just across the river from our campsite and we could hear them roaring all night. The campsite also had a cage in the river so that we could swim without getting eaten by hippos and crocodiles!

After a series of misadventures, including a long border crossing, getting lost, and a flat tire, we arrived in Livingstone, Zambia. After spending a night in the Jolly Boys Backpackers Hostel, we ventured out to Angel’s Pool at Victoria Falls. The typical toursist destination is Devil’s Pool, but it was closed because the falls had too much water. Angel’s Pool is similar to Devil’s Pool, just rather than swimming out to it we only had to hold hands and wade through the river. Following our guide, we went swimming a few short meters from the edge of the falls. I would highly recommend this activity to anyone visiting the Falls, although it may not always be open. If there had been much more water it would be very easy to get swept right off the edge.

Rachel 3A View of Victoria Falls from the Park

Some of the other CIEE students I was travelling with also bungee jumped off the bridge over the river separating Zambia and Zimbabwe. Just from watching them, I would not recommend if you are afraid of heights. We also went to the Victoria Falls Park, where you can walk along a path right next to the Falls. We were warned to bring rain coats, but buying an actual poncho would have been more effective. I expected a gentle mist from the falls, but they are so large that the “mist” is actually a torrential downpour. At times it felt as if we were standing underneath the falls, even though we were several hundred feet away. However, when the mist cleared the view was astounding. Victoria Falls is even more incredible than I could have ever imagined.

Rachel 4We met up with some of the UB international students at Victoria Falls and got mildly soaked exploring Victoria Falls

On our way back to Gaborone, we spent a couple nights in Maun to experience the Okavango Delta. One afternoon we did a horseback safari through the delta, which felt like a great way to see and experience it. The horses trekked through long grass, crossed the delta several times, and went through a nice wooded path. As a beginner horse rider, I almost got thrown from the horse. But we all survived our various adventures, only losing two car tires on the way. By far the best mid-semester break I have ever had!

Sala sentle!



A Weekend in Kanye

Gen 6

Post by Genevieve Brandt from Pacific Lutheran University 

Last weekend we went to the village of Kanye, only 100 km away, to do a homestay. We arrived on Friday afternoon and got to meet our host families. After eating lunch as a group, we headed off to our homes to spend time getting to know our families. I stayed with a lady named Pelonumi, or Nunu for short. She had a beautiful house on a hill in the village, and made me feel at home right away.

Gen 4Nunu’s home, where I stayed for the weekend

Nunu showed me around her house, and I found out that she had running water available. This was surprising to find out, because most of the houses in Kanye did not. The water shortage in Botswana and the hills in Kanye make the water situation unreliable. Many villagers must walk outside of their house to fill up buckets, or have saved water inside from the few times when the water comes on. The unreliable water situation makes the cold showers at UB feel like a luxury.

Gen 2The view of Kanye from the top of the hill behind my house.

I quickly felt the slow pace of village life when shortly after arriving, Nunu informed me that it was now time for a rest, and she would be waking up in a few hours. After my week of staying up late working on essays, I was relieved to hear this and took a nice nap. When we woke up, she gave me a walking tour of the village as we went to the supermarket to get groceries for dinner. I appreciated the beauty of Kanye because Gaborone is much less green. They also had hills in Kanye, which was exciting to see after flat Gaborone.

Gen 2The refreshing scenery of Kanye was very different from Gaborone, with hills and green on the side of roads.

On Saturday, the entire CIEE group went to Motse Lodge in order to learn about traditional village life. We got to experience making clay pots, building a wall, and making phaphata, which is traditional bread. After doing these activities, we went on a short hike to the dam nearby. It was a new concept to see water in Botswana, even though I know that this dam is at much lower levels than needed. After returning, we learned how to milk goats. They were really not into the process, but one of the goats let us try. It was a fun day at Motse learning more about life in villages, especially ones that are not as large and developed as Kanye.

Gen 3A donkey drinking water from the dam near Motse Lodge. The donkey had been working hard pulling the cart of people to the dam

Sunday was my last day in Kanye, and I spent it with Nunu at her house. We have a Setswana midterm coming up this week, and Nunu was able to help me with my studying. We also went on a walk to visit the Kgotla, which is the traditional court. Villagers visit the Kgotla to see the chief and discuss matters that involve the city. I was happy that Nunu was able to show me around her village. It was a relaxing weekend away from the city, and I hope to visit Nunu again soon.

Gen5Me and my host mother, Nunu.


Spring 2016 Issue II - Volunteer Day at Batlang Education Centre



Spring '16 at Batlang Support Group Volunteer Day


When we take a  look back at the semester in  retrospect, it is  often the days we forget our individualistic needs  and look at what is happening around us that resolve in being the most meaningful. Like all places, there are sectors within the community that could use a just a little push to get through. CIEE Gaborone makes it a point to seek out an organization within the community each semester to give a helping hand. The aim of this semester's volunteer day was to try and help improve the learning environment for the children at Batlang. We coordinated a volunteer day that encompassed various activities such as cleaning, painting, fun games and a minimal book and food donation.

Here's what's in this issue:

About Batlang
All Hands In
 Moving Forward

About Batlang

Batlang  Support Group was founded in 2003 in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that was affecting the residents of Mogoditshane, a village located on the outskirts of Gaborone. Batlang has grown immensely since it opened. The group first begun as a feeding center for orphans and vulnerable children in and around the area and later expanded their services to include abstinence awareness and behavior change in local schools, as well as providing, care and support for those who need it most.

Currently, a full-time pre-school/kindergarten for over 60 children aged 2-6 years is facilitated by staff volunteers . Additionally, members of staff extend this hand to a local junior school by teaching life skills at the Mogoditshane Community Junior Secondary School to assist adolescents with everyday challenges. Like most non profit organizations, small donations can go a long way. We decided to support them  by
lending a helping hand.

All Hands In

On Saturday 27th February, the CIEE Gaborone students arrived bright and early at 8 am, to get the ball rolling. The day was spear headed by our two student volunteers Luisure and Keya, along with a committee they had formed, who did an outstanding job planning and managing the CIEE team before and upon arrival at Batlang Support Group. The CIEE students, staff and volunteers had been strategically split into a kitchen crew, two painting crews, a couple handy men (well, mostly women)  and of coarse a cleaning crew. 

The first order of the day, was painting! Overall, the surroundings were run-off-the-mill and our team hoped to liven up the surroundings by painting in and around the center. The murals were to create a more educative space in order to escalate student attentiveness and a more educative enviroment. Take a look at some photos below: 

DSC_0039Nina creating a mural outside with the help of fellow students and  local friends!

Letter 1

Jake & Justin were some of our favorite painters!

Letter3          The finished product was just amazing! (check out those tyres, super awesome!)

Our students and volunteers along with the help of some locals from the community also took some time to refurbish a few of the tables used at Batlang. They added wonderful color to the classrooms and really made an impactful change; check out some scenes of the process and end product:

4Nina, Keya and some locals from the community working on the tables

Letter4Jake did a superb job painting!

13The end product was amazing and made such a difference to the classroom! What a superb job!

The rest of our painting crew did an awesome job within the center. They drew alphabets, numbers, dinosaurs and days of the week in the student rooms.  They were impressively resourceful and the rooms looked bright and cosy! 

 31Eliza  painted a beautiful garden  in the students classroom

One Days of the week and alphabets made a colorful addition to the rooms! 

In one of the rooms, Akira, Eliza and Madison created a fantastic tree and recruited a few little special helpers to assist them with their wall painting. It was such an amazing contribution and the toddlers of Batlang took part in creating something meaningful that will resonate with them and all those to follow! 

8The toddlers of Batlang making the leaves of the tree with their hand prints!

The hefty cleaning crew graciously took care of the rest rooms, sick bay and play areas so as leave a spotless environment for everyone to enjoy. A few of our students put up new curtain rails and curtains around the center to brighten up the place. We also added some bag hangers in the common room to help with space and organization.

TwoThe cleaning crew hard at work, they did an amazing job getting everything in top shape!

15The volunteers getting the curtains ready!

Whilst the painting and cleaning was under way, our kitchen crew was swiftly preparing for the young members of Batlang to arrive.  They made hotdogs, and juice and topped it off with fruit and snacks. The CIEE crew sat amongst the children and enjoyed the mini brunch.

  Three Brunch Prep!

After brunch, all the students of Batlang sat in a circle and taught our team some fun Tswana games, which included their own version of  duck duck goose.  


Playing duck duck goose !

Moving Forward

The day was a total success! CIEE Gaborone is proud to give back to such a great organization, and to support Batlang's vision. The CIEE crew donated a few items to the centre, including books, crayons,  craft supplies and some non perishable food stuff! Moving forward we hope to to continue the wonderful partnership established between Batlang Support Group and CIEE Gaborone. Till next time, Sala Sentle (Stay Well)!


Spring 2016 Issue I : Orientation Week!



Spring '16


2016 is well under way and the University campus is officially open again. Hoards of students swarm the campus trying to get registered, whilst we at CIEE Gaborone welcome 14 new students to our offices! Keen to start class and dive into the local culture, CIEE Gaborone enjoyed an exhilarating first week! Here's what's in this issue:

Hello Botswana
In and Around Gabs
Dining in Style

Hello Botswana

Our Spring semester students arrived at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Sunday 17, January shortly after mid-day. The new scholars were picked up by our devoted volunteers and were shuttled to Oasis Motel, a few kilometres from the University; whilst  the Homestay students were greeted at the airport by their host families and whisked away to their news homes! 

Orientation week begun bright and early Monday morning. The dorm students were transported to the University and assisted with dorm move-ins by our ever helpful volunteers. Whilst, simultaneously, the home stay students took part in a workshop geared at coping with home stay life. Once all was settled, the dorm students joined the home stays for a formal introduction to the CIEE Gaborone program led by the Resident Director, Basetsana Maposa.

Orientation week is packed with seminars and workshops; these seminars and workshops assist with the transition process whilst in Botswana. As the country is a very different from a typical American setting which the students are used to, CIEE Staff highlight several issues that might be challenging whilst studying abroad. For the most part, most individuals often face trouble with culture shock and the adjusting, safety and security whilst in Botswana, and also how to navigate throughout campus and the city. Botswana has two national languages, mainly English and Setswana, which are often spoken interchangeably. In light of this, the students are equip with basic survival Setswana so they are not left out of the loop.

As informative as orientation week is meant to be, CIEE makes it a point to bring some fun into learning the learning experience. The students take part in a Significance of dance in Botswana -  Culture Dance class, a traditional music lesson at Thapong Arts Center and are introduced to a plethora of  traditional local food all week! These activities are an essential part of orientation as they introduce the students to the heart of Botswana, this is because music, dance and food make up a large component of the countries culture. Take a look at scenes from the week:




In and Around Gabs

On Thursday, it was time to experience the city like the locals do! The students took part in an Amazing Race - Combi Safari Challenge. This challenge involves the students ( accompanied by student volunteers) using public transportation to designated cites around the city such as: the Three Chief Monument located in the CBD (a statue which stands tall in the heart of the city to remind locals of the bravery of Botswana's founding fathers) the National Museum (filled with artifacts that tell stories of Botswana's history), the bus rank ( a central meeting point for all the public transport that runs through the city) and many more, whilst taking pictures documenting the experience, all whilst competing for the ultimate prize!   CIEE believes this serves an integral part in developing confidence in travelling around the city, to and from internships, volunteer organisations, and anywhere else they may need to go! Check out some video links below :


The end of the day had everyone enjoying a relaxed and definitely refreshing lunch at Capello Masa Center located in the Central Business District; a perfect end to the eventful morning!

Dining in Style

On Sunday 24th, the week finally come to an end! The students were well informed on the knows necessary for surviving in Gabs, how to travel around the city, local food and most especially a little Setswana which would take them a long way. The end of the week not only brought down the anxiety levels but definitely instilled more confidence in each student. To celebrate the small milestone crossed, CIEE hosted a formal welcome dinner at Savutti Grill of Gaborone’s Avani Restaurant! Check out some photos of the wonderful night below :

Student Volunteer Brenda Samman and Nina Walsh looking wonderful at the Welcome Dinner

Vivian Nguyen and Program Assistant Tanya Phiri at the Welcome Dinner



What a splendid evening! We look forward to a wonderful semester, till next time, Sala Sentle (Stay Well)!


Fall 2015 Issue III - Final Newsletter



Fall 15


We finally reached the end of our Fall Semester and looking back it’s been an amazing couple of months. It’s often hard to say goodbye to our peers and friends, and even more challenging to let go of new cultures and places we just began to call home! Here’s a recap of the semester highlights:

Orientation Week
Investing in Others
Discovering Botswana
Goodbye's the Saddest Word

Orientation Week

On Sunday, July 26th 2015, a number of students flew in to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Botswana from all ends of America. They were picked up by our student volunteers and were shuttled to a nearby hotel where they spent their first night in Africa.

The next morning was the beginning of a long week! Upon arrival at the University, the students where equip with relevant coping strategies in hope of facilitating a smooth transition into their new environment. This includes how to navigate the University campus, safety and security in and around the city and campus, briefs on how to live in local dorms and home stays, registration and many more. Similarly, they were introduced to Tswana culture as best they could be by  into a series of interesting activities which included a Significance of Dance in Botswana, Culture and Dance Class, a Traditional Music lesson at Thapong Arts Centre, survival Sestwana lessons and a wonderful week indulging in some traditional Tswana food! Check out some scenes from Orientation below:

Fall '15 Orientation Seminar

Student Volunteers facilitate campus tour at the University of Botswana


Traditional lunch at Botswana Craft

Once the essential information had been decimated, it was nice for the students to get out and explore the city.  In  an exhilarating Amazing Race – Combi Safari throughout Gaborone, the students were taken on public transportation to specific locations within the city by way of combis (small mini-buses), which allowed the students to see Gaborone for the beauty she is, just as the locals do. The Amazing Race - Combi Safari Challenge helps instill a sense of independence and confidence in using the public transportation system whilst racing for the ultimate prize. It turned out to be a great day as everyone was glad to be out and about after the long week! Check out some photos from the Amazing Race – Combi Safari:


Aziza, Morgan and Amy at the Gaborone bus rank during the Amazing Race


Aziza, Morgan, and student volunteer Rati in front of the Three Chief Monument during the Amazing Race

At the end of the week the students and staff enjoyed a wonderful welcome dinner at Avani Restaurant. It was a splendid evening; an absolute treat after the hectic week!


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Fall 15 Welcome Dinner!

Investing in Others

CIEE Gaborone makes it a point to offer a helping hand and serve those less fortunate within the community. This fall, we had the opportunity to spend the day with a number of young children from the Naledi community at Naledi Education Centre, in Gaborone, Botswana.

Naledi Education Centre is a community based organisation that was founded in conjunction with the Naledi Clinic and Church. The education centre was one of the 1st in the area, providing student facilities to young members in and around the community; although Naledi Education Centre has been operational for several years now they are still open to assistance from outside members.

The volunteer day was completely planned and organised by CIEE students. They chose an organisation based on their personal interests and one they felt required the most help and support. The aim of the volunteer day is to allow the students to get engaged with the community and allow them to acquire a well-rounded view of Batswana, in that they are provided the opportunity to meet individuals from various backgrounds. The students did a tremendous job helping out, check out some pictures below:

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Sarah after a football game with the boys of Naledi Educational Centre 

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Julia helping the paint the benches

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Luisure getting hotdogs ready for brunch


Johny helped everyone get cleaned up and ready for brunch


Steve did an amazing job helping the kids create artistic works



The jumping castle was a hit!




Discovering Botswana

Throughout the semester, CIEE organised a number of excursion around the county. Apart from community public health site visits to institutions such as Princess Marina and Baylor Children’s Clinic, The students are privileged to visit other key areas within the host country such as   Bahurutse Cultural village where they enjoyed traditional song, dance and food.

The weekend of October 16-17 made Orapa, a small mining town located in the central district of Botswana, the destination of choice. We headed to the infamous Orapa Diamond Mine! The students were privileged to go on a mine tour where they had the opportunity to see the large open pit mine, the monster trucks and learnt about the mine and its enourmous contribution to Botswana’s economy. What an amazing opportunity.

The next stopover was a large village north of the capital city rich in history and significance in Botswana’s Independence, Serowe. Serowe’s rich history can be explored at the small Khama III Memorial Museum, located near the centre of the village behind Serowe Hill! The Khama III Memorial Museum outlines the history of the Khama family, one of the most important dynasties in Southern Africa.

The next stop was Khama Rhino Sanctuary; 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.  The students spent the night and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and night game drive where they were lucky enough to see a plethora of nocturnal animals native to Botswana.


Rhino's at during the night game drive 

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Beautiful impala during the night game drive

Before the end of the year, CIEE has a spectacular end of semester `trip to Kasane, which is the northern region of Botswana. The students flew to a wonderful resort where they were welcomed by the wonderful the great staff! They enjoyed a boat ride over the Chobe River and enjoyed a plethora of water animals in the region, a relaxing start to the well-deserved vacation.

The next couple of days were full of sights, the students and CIEE staff were whisked to the Chobe National Park where they camped the next two night! They had the pleasure of viewing the entire big five and several other majestic animals botswana had to offer. As Botswana had just been named the number 1 location to visit in 2016, the experience was that much more fulfilling!

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Breathtaking boat ride along the Chobe River

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Camp site in Chobe National Park

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One of the many game drives in Chobe National Park

Whilst in Kasane, CIEE Gaborone staff and students had the opportunity to visit the great Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe! What a splendor , definitely the highlight of the trip!


Fall 2015  at the great Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe


Goodbye's the Saddest Word

After 4 months in Gaborone, it was finally time to say goodbye! When the semester was all said and done, looking back on the friendships cultivated, the memories made, the lesson Botswana instilled, all those who took the brave step to join our team,  gained and left with more than they came with! So as we choose to not say goodbye, till next time, Sala Sentle (Stay Well)!


Fall 2015 Issue II: Mines, Rhinos, Museums and Movie Stars





It’s halfway through the Fall semester and it’s time to get everyone’s heads out the books and into the wonderful landscapes of Botswana! The students travelled 6 hours out the countries capital (Gaborone, just in case you forgot) to the small city of Orapa and village of Serowe for what turned out to be a perfect couple of days!

Here’s what’s in this issue:

Mine Tour
Definitely a Rhino
Sightseeing at the Museum<


It’s not so great to wake up at the crack of dawn and hop into a 6 hour bus ride; even so, the weekend of October 15th had us eager to do it nonetheless. Our students and two volunteers left the University campus and set off to the diamond capital of the country; a small mining town known as Orapa, located in the central district of Botswana, to the infamous Orapa Diamond Mine!

The Orapa Diamond mine is an open pit mine and the largest in the world by area! The mine produces approximately 11million carats of diamond per annum and contributes greatly to Botswana’s overall revenue.  The mine has been awarded on several occasions for upholding world class environmental compliances. There is a game park around the mine to ensure the vegetation and landscape and animals are not exhausted as the mining processes occurs, all the same ensuring water and waste management in the area is constantly implemented to preserve the area.

The ride was long, and with everyone anxious to arrive, it was that much more exciting once we finally reached the destination! Each student had to provide their passport in order to receive a permit to enter the town (Orapa is the only town in Botswana with 24 hour surveillance due to the large quantity of diamond produced in the area) as accountability is extremely essential.

2Morgan Robinson at the Orapa Mine Check point

Once everyone was through the security gate, the students were taken to Seole lodge where they had dinner and those who weren’t so ready for bed, spent the evening relaxing by the poolside.

At 7 am the following morning, the mine tour begun. The students sat through an in-depth presentation on the mine, the benefits of the mine to Botswana’s economy, and lastly got to learn exactly how the diamonds are retrieved. The students had the privilege of viewing the enormous mining pit, monster trucks, and the actual monitoring process of the diamond transportation within the mine at the general control room. To add to the fun, the students got to put on safety gear which included helmets, safety goggles, gloves, and boots as part of the experience!


Leah Fails rocking protective gear at the Orapa Diamond Mine!

Selfie Time – Orapa Diamond Mine 

After the thrilling mine tour, the students and volunteers, famished and terribly hot, enjoyed a filling relaxed lunch at Wimpy in Orapa and were off to their next destination!


The students drove 2 hours south to the village of Serowe to Khama Rhino Sanctuary. 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.


The sanctuary provides a prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.

The students arrived late afternoon and were booked into their dormitories before heading to a delightful dinner. Once the food situation was settled and the tummies were cheerful, everyone embarked on a wonderful night game drive, where they got to see and learn about a number of animals within the sanctuary, including the mighty Rhinos. The fresh air and plethora of wild animals was an absolutely awesome treat.


A successful evening as we spotted several rhinos during our night game drive


Beautiful nocturnal birds we managed to catch a glimpse off during the game drive


Students enjoying the wonderful zebra at Khama Rhino Sanctuary


Leah Fails and Amy Ma enjoying the night game drive at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

The next morning, everyone woke bright and early to blazing hot water, which was absolutely wonderful as the night before the lack of water left everyone craving for a well-deserved shower! A member of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary picked and shuttled everyone to breakfast and soon after, the students were headed to the next location once more.


The students drove a few Kilometers from the Rhino Sanctuary to Khama III Memorial Museum! Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's first president, was born and raised in Serowe and it was here that the political uproar surrounding his marriage to Ruth Williams reached its head. Serowe’s rich history can be explored at the small Khama III Memorial Museum, located near the centre of the village behind Serowe Hill.  Khama III Memorial Museum outlines the history of the Khama family, one of the most important dynasties in Southern Africa. The museum includes the personal effects of Chief Khama III and his descendants as well as various artefacts illustrating Serowe’s history.


We were greeted by the museum tour guide, Scooby, who did a fantastic job reiterating the history of the village of Serowe. He graciously explained the numerous stories surrounding the pieces in the museum, and showed us how different artefacts and instruments were and are used by the inhabitants of Botswana.


"Bob Dlyan... protest songs... it's better than what they feed you in the classroom" – Scooby, at Khama III Memorial Museum


Traditional San Musical Instruments, clothing made from animal skin and jewellery made from ostrich egg shells

After the museum tour we travelled a kilometre away to the Royal Grave Sight were Khama I and his family have been buried. Serowe did not only have stories to share with us but also allowed each and every person to view the set of an international big budget film, A United Kingdom, which is currently being filmed in Serowe and is based on the love story of Botswana’s first president Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Williams. Scooby, who has been a great centre point for information for the film, was gracious enough to take us to the delightful set, which was definitely a sensational experience.


Viewing a part of the movie set situated next to the Royal Cemetery

In the weeks that followed, our students were so moved, a couple of them returned to Serowe and auditioned to be extras in the movie, turning our tourists into (somewhat) Hollywood stars!


Stephen Suttle, Sarah Hoffer and Jake Budler having a grand time on set of A United Kingdom


Elise Ran, Amanda Liberman, Katharine Jones and Leah Fails looking beautiful on set!


Jake Budler and Katharine Jones on set of A United Kingdom, Absolutely Candid!

Overall our time in Orapa and Serowe was splendid. The students enjoyed viewing Botswana for the beauty it is and hearing about the rich history of, not only the people of Serowe, but the livelihood and strength of Batswana. Till next time, Sala Sentle (Stay Well).                                                     



We're Done Already?


Post by Morgan Robinson from Spelman College

I am almost at the finish line! I’m proud to say I’ve made it three long months here in Gaborone,Botswana. While I am really beginning to enjoy my time here, I can only think about that wonderful moment I board a plane and begin my journey back to Atlanta. It seems like I just arrived and now it is almost time for me to leave, and December feeling so close although I have so many things I have to do until then is really weighing on me.

Me at the Welcome Dinner in AugustAt the Welcome Dinner in August

Between my last few class assignments, preparing for finals, and having to reorganize my things to be packed away, I am pretty overwhelmed. It doesn’t help that time is turning into Speedy Gonzales and the end of the semester will be here before I know it. It is so surreal that October is almost over but it still feels as if I just started classes in August. I’m starting to realize that my prayers to speed up the semester have been answered and I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave just yet.

Me with Mervin, Marvin and Melvin in KanyeHanging out with Mervin, Marvin and Melvin in Kanye, Botswana

There are so many things that I would like to do before I leave that I still have not done. Getting nice souvenirs for my family, making time to visit Cape Town, and seeing more of Gaborone are only a few of the things on my list. However, I don’t know if I have the time anymore. I initially thought I would have all the time in the world to get things done, but time has not been too kind to me.

Me in front of the Orapa Mine Sign in OrapaIn front of the Orapa Mine Sign in Orapa, Botswana

I am hoping these next six weeks go by at a medium pace. I am very ready to be back home with my family and friends, but I am in need of more time to get everything done that I planned on getting done while in Gaborone. Time has really gotten the best of me and I just have to adjust and make the best use of it. While everything I need to do is staring me in the face and making me a little anxious about ensuring I have time to get everything done, I am grateful for the time I have had here and I really feel I have made great use of these first three months. I’m hoping I use all of my time left here wisely so I can honestly say my semester in Gaborone was time well spent.

Me with Leah and Amy at Sanita's Tea GardenSanitas Tea Garden in Gaborone  with Leah and Amy!