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11/19/2015

We're Done Already?

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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!

10/30/2015

Interning at Mokolodi Nature Reserve

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Post by Stephen Suttle from Santa Clara University

Working at Mokolodi Nature Reserve has been one of the highlights of my time studying abroad here in Gaborone. Each day at the reserve starts with Jake and I waking up at the crack of dawn, catching a combi to the station as the fantastically orange sun rises higher in the sky. Once at the station we hop on a bus to Taung, which passes Mokolodi where we disembark usually with a few other reserve employees. Then the only standing between us and starting our day working at the reserve is a 1.5 kilometer walk to the entrance. After arriving at Mokolodi, we usually start the day by feeding the cheetah, or in the case of the last visit, the hyena. 

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Early morning cheetah and hyena feeds

After they have had their fill of a combination of rabbit, chicken, and impala, we set out on the next task we have been given for the day, which often is supplementary feeding for the grazing animals. Due the severe drought that Botswana is currently facing, Mokolodi is suffering a food shortage, as there is not sufficient naturally occurring grass to sustain the grazing animal populations, and this food shortage is compounded by other factors which prevent the growth of grass, like invasive species, topsoil erosion, and soil compaction. So to increase food availability for the rhinoceros, kudu, impala, eland, and several other species of animals, nutrient enriched hay is loaded up into the back of a pickup truck, and dumped at one of many feeding points around the reserve

S3Warthogs slowly approaching the newly delivered food at a feeding point

In addition to supplementary feeding, I have been tasked with bush clearing, erosion control, and algae removal. Bush clearing is exactly what it sounds like, and consists of laborers from the village of Mokolodi clearing out invasive species, namely the sickle bush, using all sorts of tools including saws, axes, shears, and machetes. Erosion control is similarly arduous work, as rocks are collected from the around the reserve, and piled into sinkholes to slow the process of soil erosion. Although it seems tedious, it is some of the most vital work to the success of the reserve, as reduction of soil erosion leads to improved topsoil conditions, allowing grass seeds to germinate, restoring the native species and providing more food to the game on the reserve.

Last week I assisted with algae removal from the crocodile pond, because the entire surface of the water was covered with bright green algae. To remove it we dug a channel flowing out of the pond and flooded it slowly. As the top layer of the water flowed out of the pond, the algae was scooped up with nets. However we had to be weary of the crocodile as we cleaned, as it burst out of the water and attacked the net a few times.

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Our crocodilian friend basking in the sun

My time spent at Mokolodi has given me a deep appreciation for wild animals, as well as the efforts conducted by many hardworking individuals to save these magnificent species. The Mokolodi Nature Reserve is a wonderful place dedicated to conservation, and also creates a  multitude of jobs in the process. 88 employees work at the reserve, with fewer than 5 international personnel, so the majority of workers are Batswana, providing employment to the local community. It is truly a unique place.

Once In Cape Town

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Post by Keante Marshall from  University of California, Santa Cruz

Studying abroad in Gaborone, Botswana is amazing and it has been an experience that I will always cherish in my heart. During my study abroad program, we are granted a mid-semester break (September 21-27th) where most students take this opportunity to travel throughout southern Africa. I myself chose to travel to Cape Town, South Africa and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life! I flew out of Gaborone, Botswana with Air Botswana directly into Cape Town, South Africa. I stayed an entire week in Cape Town and I wish I had a longer time to spend.

When I arrived in Cape Town I was accommodated by the best hostel EVER, “Once in Cape Town.” Once In Cape Town is a hostel (similar to a hotel except the rooms are shared and mostly attracts the young crowd) that has a very hipster feel to it. Inside there are so many cool accommodations and amenities. For example: there is a café, two bars (one on the first floor and the other on the second floor), a backyard with a fire pit, a communal kitchen, and there is even a computer lab with a private skype room that has an IPad set up for anyone wishing to skype. The staff are all so friendly and cool, you’ll think to yourself “I wish I had this cool job.” If I ever go back to Cape Town I am definitely staying at Once.

K2                   Best hostel ever : Once In Cape Town

Aside from my housing experience, I participated in some thrilling and adventurous activities. Two of my biggest highlights of the trip were hiking Lions Head and going shark cage diving.  Lions Head is really Steep Mountain with a breathtaking view. This hike consisted various obstacles like climbing staples, ladders, etc. At first I was very intimidated to climb the mountain. Throughout the hike I contemplated going back and not finishing. However with the motivation of friends I made along the hike, I was able to tackle the whole mountain and make it to the top. When I go to the top I was extremely proud of myself for doing something I doubted myself for.

K3          Finally made it to the top : Lions Head!

Moreover, shark cage diving was really fun and super exciting. The shark cage diving company picked us up from our accommodation and drove us 2 hours out to Dansbaai to the diving point. After a brief orientation and walkthrough we boarded a boat and went out about 3 miles into the open ocean. We were given wet suits and were thrown right into the cage to see sharks. The entire process was amazing, but the best part was being about 3 feet away from a great white shark!

K4Most exciting experience ever : Shark Cage Diving!

Cape Town, South Africa was amazing.  One day I hope to visit again. I had the experience of a lifetime and made some really cool friends. I will cherish the moments I had, forever. 

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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08/21/2015

Fall 2015 Issue I : Orientation

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Fall '15

DUMELANG (HELLO!)

It’s August 3rd and the University campus is officially open, well somewhat! Hoards of students, returning and freshmen, swarm the campus trying to get registered and unblocked, whilst we at CIEE Gaborone welcomed 16 overzealous students to our offices, keen to start class and mingle with the locals and begin their long anticipated version of study abroad in Botswana, Africa. Here’s what’s in this issue:

Here’s what’s in this issue:

Dumela Botswana
Didimala Re Ithuthe
Dintshang Mo Gaborone
Dinner Time : A Re Je

DUMELANG BOTSWANA

"Hello Botswana"

July 24th had most of our students arriving at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. The new scholars were picked up by our devoted volunteers and were shuttled to Oasis Motel, a few kilometres from the University. The Homestay Students were greeted at the airport by their host families and whisked away to their news homes for the next 5 months.  Once the logistics were covered, everyone got to enjoy a comfortable and warm bed after long flights, and bus rides, to the city! 

DIDIMALA, RE ITHUTHE

"Be quiet, lets learn"

After the 1st evening in Gaborone, the students woke bright and early for breakfast and were assisted by our student volunteers to check out of their hotel rooms. They were transported to the University where the dorm students could finally settle in. They received linens and beddings and the keys to their new homes. Once the move-in was complete, Fall 2015 Orientation was officially under way!

O2                        Resident Director – Basetsana Maposa facilitating Orientation Workshops

The dorm students joined the homestay students for an arrangement of sittings directed by CIEE staff routed in an introduction to Botswana, its people, the culture, as well as all the relevant titbits necessary in order to have a fruitful five months here in Gaborone. 
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Students arrive for Orientation Workshop Fall '15

O4                                    CIEE students attentive during Orientation Workshops Fall ‘15
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Recess: Snacks Galore! – Orientation Workshops Fall ‘15

The student volunteers did an outstanding job assisting CIEE staff with several sessions during Orientation. They prepared enlightening slide shows and referenced videos made by past students to allow an easier appreciation of material regarding Transportation in the city, Navigating the University as well as Safety and Security on and off campus. They administered a campus tour to help the new students familiarize themselves with their new surroundings. 

O6          Student Volunteers Luisure, Keya and Oratile with Jake Budler during Fall Orientation ‘15

O7                                       Student Volunteer Luisure leading Orientation Campus Tour
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                                               Fun under the Sun – Fall ’15 Orientation Campus Tour

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Fall ’15 Orientation Campus Tour

In addition to realities the students may face during their stay, they also received a few lessons in survival Setswana to assist them during their first couple of days in the new foreign city.

Orientation sessions often prove a little overwhelming for some, as there is a lot of information to digest, although at the end of the week, the students seemed confident and safe and ready get started with the new semester.

DINTSHANG MO GABORONE

"whats up in Gaborone"

Apart from lengthy lectures, the students were able to enjoy some of the city’s secrets that really keep Gaborone’s heart beating. The students enjoyed an exciting dance class that demonstrated the significance of dance culture and music in Botswana. They learnt about what music really means to locals and got to view some traditional instruments, in light of this, they became instruments themselves as they were taught how to make music by way of dance. This was delightful as everyone left the session with moves bold enough to go toe to toe with the locals.

O10                                      Significance of Music and Dance in Botswana Culture Class 

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Significance of Music and Dance in Botswana Culture Class

Beyond busting moves, the Fall students got to experience a variety of Traditional Tswana Foods throughout Orientation week. One highlight of the week being a wonderful luscious lunch at Botswana Craft where everyone enjoyed local cuisines that had them heading back for seconds. 


O1                                                            Food’s Ready – Lunch at Botswana Craft! 

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Students, Staff and Volunteer enjoy lunch at Botswana Craft!

Once the students had danced and eaten like locals, it was time they viewed and experienced the city like locals do. Thursday had the students embarking on the Amazing Race – Combi Safari. CIEE believes this serves an integral part in developing confidence in travelling around the city, to and from internships, volunteer organisations, and every and anywhere they may need to go! The students were split into four teams led by our student volunteers and made their way around Gaborone. 

O13                                                    Team Yellow – Amazing Race: Combi Safari

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Team Yellow on the Station Bridge – Amazing Race Combi Safari

They got to ride in combis (small mini buses), taxis all whilst searching for clues, taking pictures and racing for the ultimate prize. 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!

DINNER TIME : A RE JE

"Dinner Time : Let's Eat"

That evening, CIEE staff, students and volunteers wrapped up the thrilling week with a quiet, low-key and intimate welcome dinner at the Savutti Grill of Gaborone’s Avani Restaurant. Everyone revelled in one another’s company and delighted in stories of the week that was as they anticipated the weeks that would follow. Check out some pics below :-


O15                                                                               Fall ’15 Welcome Dinner 

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Fall ’15 Welcome Dinner

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Fall ’15 Welcome Dinner

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Fall ’15 Welcome Dinner

07/13/2015

Spring 2015 Issue V : Final Newsletter

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  Night outCIEE Spring 2015 

DUMELANG (HELLO!)

On January 12, 2015 we received 13 magnificent students in Gaborone, Botswana! They unpacked their bags and minds to an experience of a lifetime.

Here’s what’s in this issue:

Orientation Blues
Community Outreach
Cultural Excursions
Touring Botswana
Final Goodbyes

ORIENTATION BLUES

The first week of the semester is by far the most challenging. The students are faced with a new environment, thousands of miles away from home. They are integrated into the Botswana culture, lifestyle and social spheres through a series of lectures and sessions that equip them with all the crucial skills and tolerances they will need to survive the following months.

The students moved into dorms and homestays and experienced an array of local foods!

Dorm 1CIEE Dorm Students in-front of their dorms at the University of Botswana 

Heather homestayHeather Guetterman making breafast with her homestay sister
Mpoane worms
One of our Spring Semester students tasting a traditional treat - Mopane Worms

The students embark on the “Gaborone Amazing Race” (an interesting bus tour around the city ) by way of public transport that often proves to be quite a humbling experience for some! They are split into teams and learn how to get around. They learn some local lingo and see the town just as the locals do, all whilst collecting clues and racing for a prize! The students submit a collage of pictures and videos that best portray their experience in the city of Gaborone!

Amaziing race - team yellow                                                Team Yellow - Amazing Race Gaborone


 
Check out the elating video Team Yellow put together

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

CIEE Gaborone makes it a point to reach out to the Community and lend a hand where we can! CIEE organised several volunteer days at different organizations which allowed our students to spend time and give back to the host community.

This spring, we visited Mokolodi Nature Reserve, a game park and nature reserve that promotes conservation while also providing tourist and educational activities. CIEE facilitated a morning of volunteering which entailed cutting branches and fixing up the drive way for game drives with rocks and sand. The students, staff and volunteers put on their hiking shoes, gloves and sunglasses and made a day out of it. The CIEE staff and students enjoyed a wonderful presentation on the  history of Botswana nature conservation efforts, particularly the Rhino population which is becoming extinct. We finished the day with a tasty lunch followed by a relaxing game drive and the students were able to see most of the animals they heard about. 

Lunch at mokolodi

Students having lunch at the Bush Braii at Mokolodi Nature Reserve
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CIEE Students on the game drive at Mokolodi Nature Reserve

Our second volunteering day was held at Stepping Stones International. SSI is a registered non-governmental, non-profit organisation in Botswana and in the United States, established in 2006, in Mochudi, 40 km from Gaborone.

SSI_RGB_LOGO-TRANS2Stepping Stones International addresses socio-economic development in vulnerable children whilst encouraging and assisting improvement in education. The students, and volunteers split up into different groups and facilitated different games routed in skills development and team building. 


Stepping stones
Ice Breaking Session at Stepping Stones International Volunteer Day
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                        Carnival Relay at Stepping Stones International Volunteer Day
                         

Here’s a link to their website to find out more: - http://www.steppingstonesintl.org/

CULTURAL EXCURSIONS

In addition to community outreach, CIEE facilitates different excursions that enable the students to experience Botswana’s ideas, customs, and social behavior. The students attended an annual cultural festival known as Son of the Soil. The festival is synonymous with celebrating Tswana culture through song, dance, food and dress in secluded areas which are usually a stone throw away from the city. This years theme was "kwa re go yang" meaning "where we are going", meant to show that culture will be one of the pillars for national development, as Batswana believe development must be anchored on a strong national identity. 

                                                                  
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CIEE Students and Staff looking dashing at Son of the Soil 2015

Our students and staff arrived in their wonderful tailor made outfits and fit right in! They enjoyed  a day filled with traditional food, an intriguing dance performances by Mogoditsane Senior Secondary School, and an array of traditional games such as Koi (jump rope) and Diketo! They got a chance to mingle and chat with locals and had an amazing experience! 

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 CIEE Students Tyler, Michelle and Tori getting interviewed at Son of the Soil 2015

Sarah and tori son

Tori and Sarah mingling with some traditional dancers at Son of the Soil
Katie son

Katie looking amazing in her traditional outfit at Son of the Soil 2015

The festival was a splendid representation of how well the host nation celebrates and continues to uphold its national pride!

Bahurutse Cultural Village was our second stop, where our students were engrossed in the lifestyle of Batswana and the Bahurutse people. They were taught how to make sorghum into the staple food known as mabele (grinded sorghum), visited the cattle post where they were able to see how the animals are kept and also got to feed chickens and goats whilst they were there. They enjoyed traditional food and stories about Bahurutse from the natives who live there.   

Bahurutse dance

Mma Clint and traditonal dancers welcome the students to Bahurutse Cultural Village
Bahurutse bush braii
CIEE Students sitting around the fire, whilst learning about Bahurutse Village and watching dance performances by the locals

The Students also got a chance to experience the Setswana wonder that is BDF Day! This is an annual event put together by the Botswana Defence Force (Botswana millitary) at the national stadium. The day showcases military exercises in order to educate and entertain civilians whilst, most importantly, building national pride.

Our students arrived at 04:30 am and enjoyed a day of exuberant theatrics and got a chance to see the President of Botswana! Take a look at the entertaining video CIEE's very own Andrew Martinez put together :

  

Last but not least, the students spent an entire week in Kanye Village. Kanye is located in southern Botswana and is a 45 minute drive away from Gaborone. The essence of the week long homestay is to allow the students to live in a village setting and exposes them to a different socio-economic surrounding. The homestay allows the students to learn about Setswana tradition and modernity whilst exposing them to rural and urban health care. 

Kanye homestayCIEE Students on the way to Kanye village homestay 

The days in Kanye consist of mornings in clinics shadowing nurses and doctors and a couple of hours learning Setswana throughout the week. Whilst in Kanye, it is paramount the students visit the village Kgotla, which is a community council or traditional law court, usually referred to as a customary court. The experience is a splendid one and entails several exciting outings and explorations outside the usual buzzing city life of Gaborone. 

Gorge kanye      CIEE Students enjoying a gorge located in Kanye 
Meso childrens centre in kanye                                       Sarah, Heather and Katie playing with small children at a preschool in Kanye

TOURING BOTSWANA

During the semester, the students were lucky enough to visit several amazing places Botswana has to offer. The weekend of March 28th had us in Serowe, the second largest village in Botswana. 

The students had the opportunity to visit Khama III Memorial Museum where they learnt about the history of Serowe and its people, the struggles they overcame and the glorious love story of Botswana's first President Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Khama! The museum is filled with artifacts and photographs that allow every visitor to travel back in time to the earlier days of Botswana.

Serowe had one more stop for our students! They spent the night at Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a beautiful landscape which has been ranked as one of the top 10 most beautiful places to visit in Botswana! 
Rhino

Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhino population. The haven provides a prime habitat to white and black rhino as well as 30 other animal species and 230 species of bird. The Sanctuary aims to restore an area formerly flourishing with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to locals through tourism and sustainable use of natural resources. 

The students arrived late afternoon and enjoyed a few hours to relax before having dinner and enjoying an exhilarating evening game drive! 
Fun in serowe        Students arrive at Khama Rhino Sanctuary and enjoy themselves before the evening game drive 

Our most exciting visit was the Jwaneng Mine.The name "Jwaneng" means "a place of small stones", an almost misleading name, considering this mine is the 8th largest and richest diamond mine in the world! In Botswana, the returns from diamond mining contributes 50% of public revenue, 33% of the GDP and 70% of foreign exchange earnings. This mine happens to be the world's richest mine by value.

The students got to put on mining gear and enjoyed a fascinating mine tour. They viewed several monster trucks and the enourmous mine pit for all its glory!

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                               Andrew, Katie, and Michelle in protective gear before the Jwaneng mine tour

The final semester excursion was to Chobe National Park in Kasane, Botswana. Chobe National Park is the ideal location for any visitor or tourist that is interested in a combination of the natural wonder of the Victoria Falls and magnificent wildlife sightings as it has one of the highest concentration of game in Africa. The National Park is the 3rd largest park in the country and has proved to be the most diverse. The park is known for its spectacular elephant population: It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa. The extraodinary park and its surroundings form an eco system very unique in Africa.Words can barely how describe how spectacular the location is, check out some wonderful pics below:
Boat ride chobe                            Katie and Andrew viewing elephants during a boat cruise in Chobe National Park

Chobe boat ride
CIEE students and Program Assistant Tania enjoying a boat cruise in Chobe National Park

 

Chobe
                     CIEE Students and Program Assisttant Tania enjoying a game drive in Chobe National Park

Our students also embarked on their own sightseeing to other neighboring countries during spring break and public holidays. It truly was a delightful experience!

Anna and anddrew watching the durban sharks game                                         Andrew and Anna in Durban watching the Durban Sharks Rugby Game
Enjoying ct                                           Anna, Jasmine, Katie, Sarah and Andrew enjoying Cape Town, South Africa

 

Sun city                                CIEE Students and Volunteer Rati having fun in Sun City, South Africa 

Gweta salt pans                Jasmine, Katie, Heather, Benita and Juliana at the Great Salt Pans during Spring Break

Jas cape                   Jasmine at Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

FINAL GOODBYES

After memories were playfully made, and friendships gradually fostered, the most heart-breaking time is when we have to say goodbye.

We had a joyous farewell dinner at Phakalane Golf Estate! Our students coordinated the entire event and what a night it was. For the most part, the superlatives and video compilations of the entire semester were a fantastic treat.
Dorm girls looking great at the farewell dinner

CIEE Dorm Students looking gorgeous at the farewell dinner 
Girls farewell

   Students and Volunteers looking dashing at the Farewell Dinner 

To our precious friends of Spring 2015, till we meet again, Sala Sentle (Stay Well) ! 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2015 Issue IV : Stepping Stones International

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SSI_the day that was

DUMELANG (HELLO!)

On February 28th 2015, our CIEE staff, students, and student volunteers went to spend the day with kids at Stepping stones International. We left early that morning with everyone beaming with complete excitement and ready to share what they have prepared for the kids there. Our team prepared different activities divided into four categories being; Carnival Relay, Around the world, I am a leader, and beyond creativity. As we split into four different groups, we were ready to learn, experience, and have loads of fun.

Here’s what’s in this issue:

A Big Big Circle
Beyond Creativity
I Am A Leader
Around The World
Carnival Relay

A Big Big Circle

In the village of Mochudi right outside Gaborone, is an organization called Stepping Stones International, (SSI). Stepping Stones International’s first program was implemented in Mochudi, Kgatleng District, Botswana. They 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. 
IMG_4845

We were welcomed by one of the staff members at SSI who led us to the leadership centre where he gave us a brief background of their organization.

SSI quote and painting

The kids came in eventually as we were setting up our different stations before coming together in one group for the icebreakers. One of the SSI student leaders welcomed everyone and brought in our very own CIEE program assistant Amelia Plant to say a few words. She welcomed everyone as well and thanked the organization for having us on that beautiful day. As organized as the kids are, they led us with fun energizers that we did in one big circle.

Icebreaker group

We all sang, danced, clapped, jumped, touched our toes, laughed, as the kids got us to join them in these overzealous activities before breaking out into our different groups. The kids were to rotate among these stations after every 30 minutes. 

Beyond Creativity

Beyond creativity poster

This station was led by our students; Tierra Holmes, Victoria Engelhard, and Heather Gutterman, as well as our Student volunteers; Keamogetse Khudu and Oratile Ramotlhwa. 

Beyond creativity_creators 1

 

This station gave the kids an opportunity to express their talents of craft making. Our four leaders being… came up with interesting crafts to create that were wrist bands and necklace making as well as creating colourful portraits. Every kid, including our teams made unique items that looked great enough to be put up for auctions. 

Beyond creativity_creators work

Beyond creativity_paintings 1

Beyond creativity_braceletes 1

Beyond creativity_braceletes 2

I Am A Leader

I am a leader_poster

This station was led by our students; Sarah Neff and Michelle Gillette, as well as our staff Basetsana Maposa and Masa Sekgwake. 

I am a leader_presentation 1

I am a leader_ACTIVITY

I am a leader_Blindfold activity

I am a leader_stick activity

Around The World

Around the World_ Poster

This station was led by our students; Jasmine Williams, Benita Pursch, and Tyler Menz, as well as our staff Tanya Phiri. 

Around the world_poster

Around the world_activity 1

Around the world_activity 2

Around the world_activity 3

Carnival Relay

Carnival Relay_poster

This station was led by our students; Katie Reed, Andrew Martinez, and Anna Koozmin, as well as our student volunteers Lerato Phiri and Laone Obonye, and staff Gaone Manatong. 

IMG_5236

Carnival relay_teams

Carnival relay_bucket race

Carnival relay_egg race

We ended our day back in one big group where we had more group fun. A very energetic confident little girl named Atlang led us with an energizer. She ran around the circle singing at the top of her voice as she hand picked people from the circle to join her in the middle.

Icebreaker Atang

 

The piece was funny and very well presented. We closed with a prayer after thanking the kids and the SSI community for having us. What a day it was!

Spring 2015 Issue III: Son of the Soil

Image1Gaborone_AS-CPH_Son of the soil 3CIEE Staff and students at Boetelo farms

DUMELANG (HELLO!)

Our CIEE Gaborone study centre staff, student volunteers, and spring 15 students spent a beautiful day at an event called Son of The Soil, (SOTS). Son of The Soil is an annual cultural event designed to celebrate Tswana culture through song, dance, food, and dress. it gives participants a chance to sing a Botswana song and dance to it. A chance to cook a Botswana cuisine and eat it. To play a Botswana game, drink Botswana traditional beer. Listen to a Botswana folklore about how intelligent a rabbit was, how an ant once killed an elephant and how some animals have short or long tails and trunks. Then a chance to brag about Setswana language.

Here’s what’s in this issue:

The Glam and The Glamorous
The Music and the Dancers
The Appetizing and The Delicious
The Games and The Players

The Glam and The Glamorous

Everyone arrived at the Notwane Boetelo farms dashing in designer gowns of all sorts. People had the heart to get their dresses specially made for them using African fabric. 

Sots boetelo farmsBoetelo farms

This event is all about embracing our culture which includes our traditional clothing. Our CIEE staff, students, and student volunteers had their dresses personally made. They all rather looked dapper is those fitting jumpsuits, short shorts, well-made dresses, and even matching head bands. 

SotsCIEE students and Office of International programs students looking great posing for photos

The locals who attended the event were very much impressive as well. They did not hold back as they made their unique outfits from all kinds of tribal dresses including leather, colourful mateisi, and dikhiba. Everyone had a chance to feel like they were walking on a runway.

Fashion_sarah_jas_toriCIEE students Jasmine Williams, Sarah Neff, and Victoria Engelhard with CIEE students volunteer Oratile Ramotlhwa posing for pictures
Fashion_heather_jules CIEE students Heather Gutterman and Juliana White looking amazing at a jewellery stall

Fashion_1Left:CIEE student Andrew Martinez with CIEE student volunteers Masa and Keamogetse, Right: CIEE students Tyler Menz and Michelle Gillette
Fashion_sarah_benita_meli_tanyaLeft: CIEE Students Sarah Neff and Benita Pursch with CIEE PA Amelia Plant, Right: CIEE PA's Amelia and Tanya Phiri
Fashion_gaone_peloCIEE Baby Pelo and CIEE Intern Gaone having fun posing for pictures
Fashion_jasCIEE Student Jasmine Williams posing for pictures with local ladies looking amazing

Sots fashionCIEE Students and student volunteers

Gaborone_AS-CPH_Son of the soil 4CIEE students Tierra Holmes and Victoria Engelhard looking at handmade jewellery

The Music and The Dancers

Our traditional song and dance is widely diverse. It ranges from different sounds and movements depending on what part of the country one is from. It has also since changed incorporating western beats, style, as well as ways of composing the final product. Our music used to be directed from feelings of sorrow, pain, happiness, and anger; in a way, storytelling. As much as it is now, it used to be deeper, repetitive to stress that certain emotion, and longer. 

IMG_4984Traditional dancers performing

Gaborone_AS-CPH_SOTS 2Young and talented traditional dancers at SOTS event

Today, our songs have changed its style into having verses and chorus, thus shorter. Our music has also changed to become more electronic due to globalization and technology. This event rather celebrates our recent local music as well as our original sounds. Dance has had a similar effect from modernity. People used to dance until sunrise to the same rhythm and sound which altered as dawn ascended. Today, people have choreography which they dance to songs that are much shorter hence could be enjoyed in one sitting. 

Dance_traditionalTop: Traditional dancers, Bottom: CIEE students enjoying the show

The SOTS event brought in traditional dancers who were in their complete traditional dance clothing to give us their well-prepared presentations. The dancers and singers gave us wonderful choreographed performances which spectators fully enjoyed as they chanted for more. Traditional music was played throughout the event which gave attendees the opportunity to freely express their love for music and dance at their own times. People danced in pairs, with their wives and kids, others danced in groups, while some preferred to watch and enjoy the show as the day went by. Some elders would gather around a tree and lead a song which brought more people around to sing and reminisce about their lovely culture. A group of people gathered and divided themselves into two groups to have a dance/sing-off. 

Sots danceSOTS attendees competing with song and dance at Boetelo farms

Sots musicElders arriving at the event singing and dancing

The Appetizing and The Delicious

Our staple food includes; mabele (sorghum), phaletshe (maize meal), koko ya Setswana (tswana chicken, Mogodu (intestines), samp, dinawa (beans), lebelebele (mealie meal), beef, seswaa (pounded beef), morogo wa dinawa (bean leaves), bogobe jwa lerotse (melon porridge), mmidi (maize), magwinya (fat cakes), motogo (soft porridge), menoto (chicken feet), melala (chicken necks), dikgobe (mixed beans) mala a koko (chicken intestines), dintshu (chicken gizzards), sebete, (liver), bojalwa jwa setswana (traditional beer), and so much more.

IMG_3244The dish; Melon meal, Pumpkin,Seswaa,Beans,Samp,Beef stew

Women were known to plough crops, harvest, and prepare food for the family; men were to farm animals, kill them and prepare the meat to feed the family as well.

Food 4A local elderly woman showing younger ones, (CIEE student Jasmine) how to pound maize

During the event, the cultural ways of doing things were put in place where women would cook in big pots on a fire while men would kill cows and goats for the lunch meal. The division of roles was important and very much respected where the community worked together during ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and other important traditional ceremonies.  For breakfast, we usually have chicken necks, chicken feet, fat cakes, liver, chicken intestines, soft porridge, and tea. Lunch meals are usually big which include many of the food listed above. 

Sots 4Women gathered around the fire cooking different dishes
IMG_3240Dishing traditional food
IMG_3241Everyone dishing traditional food
Sots food 3Man cooking Seswaa (pounded beef)

Wild fruits are usually considered as dessert so they would be consumed last. These include; mogwana (wild raisins), legapu (watermelon), ntshe (sugarcane), mogorogorwana, mowana, among the many. For drinks, the popular beverages include ginger beer and traditional beer. Women usually prepare these beverages. At the event, the traditional beer was welcomed by song and dance by elderly men and women. People enjoyed these foods as they usually do not have them for their everyday meals.

Sots foodWoman slicing a watermelon for dessert
Sots traditional beer cupsTraditional mugs made from melon containers

The Games and The Players

Young kids used to spend their days outside playing all kinds of our native traditional games such as; Koi (skipping rope), Batho safe (tight rope), dibeke (douch ball), diketo (stones in a hole), morabaraba (stones in a house), hide and seek, and more. These games were played in groups where children would gather in teams, compete, and have fun. During the event, the attendees including elders divided themselves into teams reminiscing over their childhood days. They games were fun, and entertaining.

Games_groupCIEE students, student volunteers, and children playing a game

Sots gamesAttendees skipping a ropeSots games 2Attendees playing 'batho safe' Games_toriCIEE Students Victoria Engelhard playing a local game called 'Diketo'

Games_batho safe 2Local attendees jumping a yarn string (traditional game)

Everyone sang, posed, laughed, and danced the day away. We learnt so much about our Tswana culture from the Son of the Soil event. We played games that exist in our childhood memories. We sang songs that we used to dance to as we grew up. We heard stories that our grandmothers used to tell us around a fire. We ate food that these days are mostly prepared on special ceremonies. 

IMG_4925CIEE Students taking a walk at Boetelo farms

This event is one of the best every year.

Until next time,

Sala Sentle (Stay Well).

Spring 2015 Issue II: St Thomas

Image1IMG_3293

DUMELANG (HELLO!)

Here’s what’s in this issue:

Live and Learn
Oh The Places You'll Go
Sweat Give and Love
The Okavango Delta
Stacy's Mom

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.  Oasis                                                              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 and Tanya presentationsBasetsana Maposa and Tanya Phiri during Orientation

Phono and SelomaTop; 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. 

Orientation lectures
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.

Orientation lectures 2Left; 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.

City tour 3 chiefsSt Thomas group in front of the 'Three Chiefs Monument'

ParliamentSt 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; 

  1. Write down 5 facts you have learnt about Botswana. 
  2. Take a picture by a church.
  3. Take a picture with a police officer
  4. 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.

Main mall shoes and vendor 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.

IMG_4879
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. 

Site visit baylorSt 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. 

Marina and BokamosoSt 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.

Site visit Maoka CJSSSt Thomas group visiting Maoka CJSS

Site visit farmSt 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.

Site visit KgotlaSt Thomas group at the Kgotla

Kgotla elders 2Elders 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.

Ub poolUB Pool

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. 

Mokolodi flag picSt Thomas group on a truck in Mokolodi

Mokolodi fireSt Thomas group around a fire in Mokolodi

Mokolodi foodSt Thomas students dishing food in Mokolodi

Mokolodi more funFun 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.

Mokolodi funMore fun in Mokolodi

Mokolodi tree loversClimbing 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. 

IMG_4845Stepping Stones 

SSI quote and paintingThe 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.

SSI kidsIce-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.

SSI kids 2Activities with the kids at SSI

SSI men at work_and womanWorking hard in the garden at SSI

The Okavango Delta

DeltaThe 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.

Delta beauThe 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.

Delta warm welcomeWarm welcomes at Stanley's Camp

Delta stanleys
The amazing view of Stanley's Camp

Stanley's camp
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.

Okavango-Delta-Botswana-mokoro1Enjoying 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. 

Safari truckViewing the wild on Safari trucks

Delta the animalsAnimals at the Delta

Delta the animals 2A wide-eyed Owl and a very sleepy baby Hyena

Chobe wandering lionThe Lion King 

The group enjoyed their nights at Stanley's camp. They ate and danced all night with their hosts.  

Delta fun nightThe nights that were at the Delta

Delta night outSt Thomas students enjoying the sunset

Stacy's Mom

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… 

  Farewell gropu picThe 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. 

Farewell speechesLeft; 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.

FAREWELLTop; 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! 

Farewell dinnerTop and Bottom; Merapelo posing for photos with her students

The guys
The Boys 

Parliament 3The Girls
The FlagAnd 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)!

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