Here’s what’s in this issue:
Live and Learn
Oh The Places You'll Go
Sweat Give and Love
The Okavango Delta
Live and Learn
CIEE Study Centre Gaborone hosted the University of St Thomas custom program students and professors from January 11th to January 28th 2015. Their almost two week stay here was fully packed with events, activities, lectures, presentations, excursions, volunteering, and more. The St Thomas group had the opportunity to travel Botswana, learn the language (or sing it), interact with locals, learn about the people, the food, the culture, and the traditions, as well as see Botswana’s beauty from every corner of the country.
They arrived Sunday January 11th and were taken straight to where they would live for the upcoming days; Oasis Motel. Front Entrance of Oasis Motel
The CIEE study centre Gaborone staff, Basetsana Maposa and Tanya Phiri, held a brief welcome session for the group that evening before joining them for the welcome dinner. Merapelo was the program assistant who stayed with the group throughout their journey. (something about Merah!) After those long hours travelling to this beautiful country, they were no doubt jet lagged; an early night was the right call for everyone.
The next day, the group was given a day long orientation which was held at Oasis Conference room. CIEE staff gave a presentation on ‘adjusting to culture/ culture shock and related issues’, security talk/safety protocol as well as local logistics.
Basetsana Maposa and Tanya Phiri during Orientation
Top; Phono Magosi teaching St Thomas students and Professors Setswana, Bottom; Dr Seloma and St. Thomas students during her presentation
The seminars went on for a few days with different presenters, UB lecturers, and CIEE staff coming in for those.
Very attentive St. Thomas students during presentations
The group was encouraged to participate in other presentations such as the security talk where they acted out some skits. The group was dynamic, responsive and full of life. They enjoyed every moment they spent in class learning and bombarded the lecturers with questions.
Left; St. Thomas students during a skit, Right; St Thomas Professors Jill and Suzanne
During orientation, the group had lunch at Moghul cafeteria located on the University of Botswana campus before going on a bus tour of Gaborone city coordinated by Phono Magosi. They were taken around to the popular sites including; the magistrate court, the three Chiefs monument, and the national museum.
St Thomas group in front of the 'Three Chiefs Monument'
St Thomas group at The Parliament
Oh! The Places You'll Go
CIEE student volunteers arranged a scavenger hunt for the group. They all started at the museum where they were put into groups of 4 with a student volunteer as a leader in each. They then raced to main mall as instructed. In main mall, they were to interview and record 5 locals with the following questions;
- Write down 5 facts you have learnt about Botswana.
- Take a picture by a church.
- Take a picture with a police officer
- Find Gaone in Main Mall for more clues.
Videotape interviews with 3 vendors selling items in main mall. Each Motswana belongs to a tribe with a chief/king, a totem, regiments and their respective rituals. Interview the vendors about the details of their tribe such as the ones listed above and how it affects them in modern day Botswana. You can also feel free to ask them whatever you’d like in terms of what they are selling and how long they’ve been a vendor.
interview 3 more locals you find at main mall, asking at least one of the following 2 sets of questions:
- What is your name? What does it mean? What were the various circumstances surrounding your name at birth? In what way have these circumstances helped or otherwise shaped your identity and worldview?
- What is your favorite Setswana proverb? What does it mean to you?
Take a picture with mophane worms (eating optional)
When you are done with your main mall assignments, return to Gaone.
Top; Vendors in main mall, Bottom; Leather shoes in main mall
The students were excited and raced with so much enthusiasm. The winning group was that of Oratile and the St. Thomas students; Mitch, Jordan, Brittany, and Abbey.
CIEE volunteer Oratile, St Thomas students Abbey, Jordan, Brittany,and Mitch
Oh! the places they went. The group was taken to several sites in and around Gaborone city including; Maoka Community Junior Secondary School, Botswana Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence, Princess Marina Hospital, Bokamoso Private Hospital, Kanye Kgotla, a cattle post, and the University of Botswana.
St Thomas students in front of Baylor
Princess Marina Hospital, (PMH) Botswana's first hospital, is situated in the heart of Gaborone city, just a stone throw from the national museum. The hospital was established in 1966 when the country gained independence, starting operating on April 4th 1967. The hospital had a staff member designated for the tour of the hospital and took the group into sensitive, restricted areas which was highly appreciated.
St Thomas students visiting Princess Marina Hospital and Bokamoso private Hospital
Bokamoso Private Hospital is a specialized service private Hospital located in Mmopane village, about 15 kilometres west of Gaborone. The Hospital is owned by Bokamoso Private Hospital Trust, a not-for-profit Trust which is a joint venture between Botswana Public Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme (BPOMAS) a government employee closed medical scheme and Pula Medical Aid Fund (PULA) which is a private sector oriented medical aid scheme. The Hospital opened its doors for patient care on 11 January 2010.
In one of the days, the group visited Maoka CJSS and they said the staff was fantastic. They even had lunch prepared for the participants, as they say in the Tswana culture 'when you have guest you have to give them food to eat', as if that was not enough they even gave them Tswana names.
St Thomas group visiting Maoka CJSS
St Thomas group visiting a farm
The students were always ready, eager and adhered to the theme of dress i.e. Kgotla visit. Kanye Kgotla made efforts to stage traditional events that takes place in the kgotla and took the group on a tour of the village.
St Thomas group at the Kgotla
Elders at the Kgotla
CIEE Intern Gaone Manatong had the pleasure of taking the St Thomas students on an exciting UB tour right after having a very interactive lunch with UB students at one of the campus cafeterias. The group had the chance to sit and have conversations with some of the UB students from different UB clubs such as; Students representatives, Young Women Leadership Club, Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa, Society Against HIV/AIDS, as well as our very own students volunteers. Conversations sparked from questions that the students brought up regarding various issues in Botswana as well as the University. We had to break off the fun to go on the VIP tour of UB campus.
Sweat Give and Love
Mokolodi Nature Reserve is a private not-for-profit game reserve in southern Botswana. Founded in 1994 by The Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation, it is situated on 30 km sq. of donated land 10 km south of the capital Gaborone. The nature reserve is inhabited by a wide variety of indigenous African game, bird and reptile species, some of which are rare and vulnerable to the threat of extinction. The southern white rhinoceros herd at Mokolodi Nature Reserve is part of a national breeding programme which contributes to the re-building of the national herd in Botswana.
The St Thomas group had the opportunity to visit Mokolodi, go on a game drive, enjoy their locally well known bush braai, sit around a fire telling scary stories, and enjoy camping in tents in the middle of the reserve. They were also given a presentation on conservation which is a big part of of the reserve.
St Thomas group on a truck in Mokolodi
St Thomas group around a fire in Mokolodi
St Thomas students dishing food in Mokolodi
Fun and Volunteering in Mokolodi
The group participated in a trench making, brunch cutting, hole digging, and conservation activity where they were hard at work with their machetes, hoes, saws, and shovels.
More fun in Mokolodi
Climbing trees in Mokolodi
In the village of Mochudi right outside Gaborone, is an organization called Stepping Stones International. Stepping Stones International’s first program was implemented in Mochudi, Kgatleng District, Botswana. We provide an after school program for youth ages 12-18+, with outreach to the families and the community. The program was designed with input from community members, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Education and the District Multi-sectoral AIDS Committee. In addition, Stepping Stones International conducted a literature review in the region and a needs assessment, interviewing caregivers and youth in the district, which influenced the program design.
The Artistry at SSI
The staff gave us a tour of stepping stones. We went around the compound which has three (3) large buildings of different purposes. Before falling out into these groups, we all met in the main hall with the kids and two (2) SSI staff for an icebreaker. The kids led the icebreaker with their fun and zealous piece. We sang and danced around the big circle until we were out of breath.
Ice-breaker moments at SSI
The students were divided into groups according to what they wanted to participate in. The activities included; weeding the garden, Making Rice Crispy treat, acquiring leadership skills, and life skills.
Activities with the kids at SSI
Working hard in the garden at SSI
The Okavango Delta
The aerial view of the delta
The Okavango Delta is a fascinating, huge, and unique ecosystem. It is the worlds largest inland delta and situated in an extremely arid region attracting great concentrations of diverse animals and birds. The climate is at odds with the lush environment and plays an important role in making the Okavango Delta a fantastic safari destination.
The delta upclose from the mokoro (canoe)
The St Thomas group arrived in Maun on January 22nd where they spent their first night at Rileys Hotel. Riley’s Hotel (also known as Cresta Riley’s Hotel) in Maun is one of the legendary tourist establishments in Botswana. This hotel is a premier stopover for tourists on their way to the Okavango Delta, Savuti, Chobe National Park or Moremi. Riley’s Hotel is situated on the banks of the Thamalakane River in Maun. The group enjoyed their stay as they experienced Maun. The next day, they drove to Maun airport where they hopped on Mack Air shared light aircraft flight to Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp. Stanley’s Camp is an intimate property centred around a large sitting and dining area with magnificent views over the floodplains of the Okavango Delta. Guests can view giraffe and other plains game from the swimming pool and may even see rare wild dogs stalking on the flood plains. The area is known for large buffalo herds which often exceed 2000.The group saw the delta from its aerial view in a 15 minute flight from Maun to Stanley's camp.
Warm welcomes at Stanley's Camp
The amazing view of Stanley's Camp
After having lunch and high tea, they got the chance to enjoy the delta up close and personal on safari trucks and mekoro (canoes). The activities gave the group the opportunity to experience the Okavango Delta in a more sedate manner as the canoes are poled through the narrow channels allowing guests to see water life up close.
Enjoying the Delta on a mokoro
Every day at the delta, the group enjoyed game drives and mokoro rides. On the game drives, they went around Moremi game reserve viewing the diverse animals found there including; lions, rhinos, leopards, giraffes, hyenas, elephants, impalas, birds of all kinds.
Viewing the wild on Safari trucks
Animals at the Delta
A wide-eyed Owl and a very sleepy baby Hyena
The Lion King
The group enjoyed their nights at Stanley's camp. They ate and danced all night with their hosts.
The nights that were at the Delta
St Thomas students enjoying the sunset
On January 27th 2015, CIEE staff Basetsana Maposa, Tanya Phiri, and Amelia Plant, as well as their Interns Gaone Manatong and Masa Sekgwake were invited to attend the St Thomas Farewell dinner held in Golf Estates. Our student volunteers braced us with their precense as well. The overzealous students came in all dressed up in their Setswana traditional clothing they purchased here; they all looked radiant and stunning. The venue made the evening even more…
The ladies of St Thomas University with Program Assistant Merapelo
We had great activities lined-up for the night. Gaone being the MC surely did not disappoint. She had the guests all entertained with her astounding charisma and jokes. Basetsana gave a warm welcome to everyone before handing the spotlight over to Jill and Suzanne, the St Thomas professors who traveled with the students. The lovely ladies gave a sweet farewell speech after receiving their gifts from Basetsana and her staff. The night was young, the music was set to a nice mood, and the attendees were all in good spirits. We all mingled, danced, and laughed; it surely did not seem like a goodbye at all.
Left; Basetsana giving the welcome remarks, Right; Jill and Suzanne giving a toast
The sunset glowed over the Estates man-made pond, and dinner was served right after Tanya gave a sweet goodbye speech on behalf of CIEE Gaborone. She reminisced over the days we spent with the St. Thomas group: climbing Kgale hill, volunteering at Stepping Stones International, the welcome dinner, the scavenger hunt in main mall, and many more fun and inspiring activities we had the pleasure to participate in. Raising a glass to everyone, we were all ready to eat. The food was amazing. It was a mixture of traditional and western foods.
Top; Listening to the hilarious speeches, Bottom; Posing for photos
The sun went down and all the fun began. The students had created a slideshow that represented their trip and it did not disappoint. We all enjoyed the funny pictures, the cute captions, and all the scenery they had the opportunity to be in. Out of nowhere, traditional music was turned up and a group of performers in traditional gear ran to our little gazebo in so much enthusiasm and well moves. The local group sang and danced their hearts out before pulling us on stage to join them. It was a great was to wrap up a trip in one night with local music and performers. After they left, everyone filled our pseudo stage dancing, in pairs, in threes, and some in singular. CIEE staff performed a piece for the group which made the St. Thomas students try to top it with a ‘Stacy’s Mom’ cover which by the look of the crowd was amazing and funny. We then danced the night away belting out songs from Taylor Swift to Whitney Houston to Beyonce. What a night!
Top and Bottom; Merapelo posing for photos with her students
And The Flag
Travelling and seeing the world may just be the best thing ever invented. Some people feel that learning about cultures that exist in the world and experiencing them is a great way of becoming a global citizen. Botswana is an amazing country with endless beauties and a whole range of different tribes with different backgrounds and traditions. The St Thomas group were ecstatic. They enjoyed their stay here in Botswana and were sad to leave. They had so much fun and showed they would have stayed longer if they could. What a group! What a program!
Until next time, sala sentle (stay well)!