My time in Botswana so far!
Blog Post by Adrian Lurie from University of Southern California
Gaborone, fondly known as Gabs, has so far been an absolute joy. Specifically, my host family has welcomed me with an authentic enthusiasm and expectancy. I am treated as if I am a member of the family, which implies both acceptance and obligation. After meals that are cooked by my mother or sister, I am expected to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. To me, this is a standard reciprocal dynamic, and I enjoy the experience of being included in such. Additionally, my 23-year-old sister, Nelly, has been a helpful and relaxed friend. We can talk together with such comfort, and she is always quick to offer advice, take me out with her friends, or show me the local combi routes. One engaging aspect of my homestay is the differing belief systems my mother and I hold. We often engage in friendly discourse regarding religion, homosexuality, evolution, and gender roles. I feel as though my views are heard and respected, though in the end, disagreed with. I understand this is an engrained cultural difference and I have no desire to change it, though I do enjoy exploring her belief’s and where they stem from.
On the social side of things, I have found young Batswana to be enthusiastically welcoming. I have learned that there is a common stigma that specifically white Americans are rich and mostly concerned with themselves and others like them. Therefore, I have experienced a sensitivity from individuals to initiate connection. On the other hand, many people have started conversations with me and been rather inquisitive into American life. In the end, I have personally felt a general respect for Americans and white people, even to a somewhat disconcerting point. I was surprised there is not more resentment toward Westerners, whose ancestors so insensitively colonized the surrounding areas. I understand that Botswana has a rather peaceful history compared to other African countries. However, with the American control of game reserves, and other industries, I still expected some sort of negativity directed toward white skin. Rather, Batswana have told me that white people can often easily exploit business here and gain respect simply because of their background. The continuation of such a historical dynamic saddens me, though I don’t think it in any way lessens the power and beauty of this country. Simply, Westerners must begin to recognize and respect the individual countries of Africa on a deeper and more meaningful level. I hope to be an ambassador for such a change through continuing to document and share the rest of my time here.
Posted by Entle Mmipi