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12/08/2017

We bid farewell to Fall 2017

As the semester comes to an end, we bid farewell to our fall 2017 students in a special way. As the CIEE Gaborone study center, we hosted farewell braai and farewell dinner to the eight ladies. Still can’t believe that the semester has come to an end, the three months flew by so fast and we now reminisce at the memories we created this semester, from orientation week to Khama rhino weekend that was two weekends ago before the farewell braai.

Farewell braai

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The rain clouds threatened the day, as the preparations for the farewell braai continued with no bother. Families and friends trickled in as we danced to music while preparing the food serving point, the meat being grilled on the braai stand (barbeque) and chats flying in the air, we even forgot that it was the farewell braai and left with a couple of weeks left till the end of the semester. We were all so excited to see each other, especially homestay families and kids already playing soccer and focusing on having the most fun with their friends.

Pic 2Kayla's dad play soccer with the kids

FOOD:

Beside the regular beef and chicken, we added a twist of people bringing their own dish, different kinds pasta dish, dumplings (madombi), spinach, potato salad, garlic bread, green salads that had everyone rush in line. The braai food is the most exciting part about this day.

Pic 3Keya on the braai

Pic 4-1Food is ready!!

After we ate food and we regained our energy, we went on with the festivities of the day. We danced till our feet hurt and learned some few danced moves along the way.

The step dance move: such a very popular dance move at any event in Botswana, we put on some music, Mafikizolo’s new song Love portion, thathi skupu and step’d all the way.

The cha-cha slide: The students were so excited to teach us the slide, and  “Alright now, we gonna do the basic step, to the left, take it back now y'all, One hop this time, right foot. Let's stomp, left foot. Let's stomp, Cha cha real smooth” we danced for the four minutes and added another.

Pic 5Time to dish up

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As the night invades, and the festivities had to come to an end it was time for us to clean up and head home.

Pic 7We had so much fun!

 

Farewell dinner

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Three months have come and past, we ended our semester with a farewell dinner at Phakalane Golf Estate. The theme of the night was Fabulous Botswana – Vegas inspired and everyone came dressed to impress, also looking to snatch the best dressed award.  Truth or dare game was played and that made us laugh that we even forgot it that this was our last dinner together. Superlatives were given out and gifts were exchanged, we thought we were going to avoid a tearing up moment, but then Emily’s letters too each and everyone of us made us sob for a minute.

To the Fall 2017 group: thank you so much for spending the semester with us in Gaborone, Botswana.

Tsamaya sentle, ka pula.(Go well, with rain). Till we meet again.

11/30/2017

Taking a combi through the Semester

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Maeve Barry from Occidental College

When reflecting on this past semester, time spent on public transportation comes to mind. Some of the most interesting people I have met and most memorable experiences have occurred on combis. A combi is a small, often white van that is jam packed with people, ignores all American notions of personal space, makes an infuriating amount of stops, but ultimately gets you where you need to be on the most round-about route possible. On my first ride to orientation at University Botswana, I was joined by my block 9 neighbor Hayley. We were both too insecure about our Setswana to call out “Em ma mo stopong!” as you are supposed to when you reach your stop, but luckily we met a kind man who called it for us. I knew we were supposed to stop near a bridge, but unfortunately there is more than one bridge in Gaborone and I was far off in my estimation. Haley and I got off, lost and confused, wandering around for an hour under the blazing sun. Most people we came across were incredibly helpful; one woman in particular became our guardian angel and walked us to the taxi station. This instance of kindness was consistent with my overall experience in Gabs; the people, women especially, have been so gracious and helpful to me in a way I am not accustomed to in Los Angeles or anywhere else I’ve spent time in the U.S.

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A week in, and Hayley and I are feeling more confident! We became flustered in the bus rank, which still happens, as there is no way of avoiding the bewilderment that coincides with countless men yelling at you to get in their ‘special’ (more expensive) taxi and the continuous catcalling and harassment that is inevitable for women in the bus rank. Overwhelmed, we hopped in a combi without doing a thorough questioning as to where it went. We rode for an embarrassing forty five minutes before realizing we were not headed home. My alarm bells didn’t start ringing until a pack of wild zebra ran by alongside the combi, which is not something you see in the city. When we asked the combi passengers if we were headed to block 9, they all burst out laughing while informing us that we were headed “into the African bush!” We wound up in a village unbeknownst to us, with no living creature insight except for some friendly goats. A combi plowed around the corner and, as the driver called out to us, we ran to him, hopping on without ever looking back.

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As I become more adjusted to combi routes and life more generally in Gabs, I have come to love my hour long combi ride to and from school. Everyone greets each other when boarding it, instead of the silent, awkward stares you receive when finding a subway seat in the U.S. On the way home from my internship one day a combi passed by me filled with only school children. The driver invited me aboard if I didn’t mind music. I was confused why he felt the need to ask until we took off, and I realized by loud he meant the type of loud that is likely to burst your eardrums, music-you-can feel- vibrating-through-your-entire-body-loud. We sang along to 80’s pop music without self-consciousness, since there was no chance someone could hear you and the other passengers were seven.

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On other enjoyable rides when my hearing is intact, I have met incredible people and engaged in discussions about politics, gender roles, colonization, race and religion. Other rides have been spent in comfortable silence after the initial “Dumela!,” offering me the time to myself that I have so greatly missed since arriving at college. My daily combi rides serve as a reminder that some of the most meaningful experiences occur in the most ordinary of circumstances, when you are sweating profusely, sticking to the seat of a bumpy vehicle.

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ema mo stopong!

11/22/2017

A Saturday in Kanye

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Hayley Poore from University of Washington

As part of the CIEE public health program, we got to spend a week in the beautiful village of Kanye.  Since we were busy with clinic visits and Setswana class during the week, we finally got to experience some Kanye festivities on Saturday.

In the morning, we went to a lodge to do some cultural activities, which included walking and climbing to see the gorge.  It was a little tough to climb, especially since they hadn’t told us to wear hiking shoes, but it was worth it since it was so pretty.  We also got to milk a goat and then try some of the fresh milk right after.  The milk was still a little warm, which I didn’t love, but it was a new experience and I’m glad I got to try it.

 

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Feeling the water in the gorge

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The dam next to a lodge in Kanye

After the lodge, we all piled into some cars and were taken to the wedding of a relative of some of the host families (two of the host moms are sisters and a third one is the daughter-in-law of one of them).  Even though we did not really know anyone at the wedding besides each other, we had a lot of fun.  There was so much food, music, and even some dancing.  One of my favorite parts was watching the bride come out in all of her different outfits.  I think she had four in total.  They were all gorgeous and every time she would come out with a new one, the whole wedding party would do a dance from the house back to their seats.  There were so many people at the wedding that some people were sitting on the ground or just standing since there were not enough chairs and tables for everyone.  It was really cool to see since it felt very different than any of the weddings I have been to back home.  Since my family was not at the wedding, I had to get home before it got dark.

 

Hayley 3The front walkway of my Kanye home

 

Once I got back to my house, I had a little time to relax before me and two other CIEE students were off to a birthday party with my family.  The birthday party happened to be for the mom of one of the other students (our host moms must be pretty good friends).  It was a pretty big party and there were probably at least fifty guests.  She was turning 65, so it was a pretty big deal and some of her relatives gave speeches or sang songs.  You could tell how wonderful of a person she must be and how much love everyone had for her.  They served us dinner around 10pm and even though it was late, it was worth it since it was really good.  As soon as dinner finished, they passed out some sort of bread with cream on it, which we all enjoyed.  There were two beautiful cakes in the shape of 65 sitting on the table all night, but we thought that they were too pretty to cut which was why we had the other dessert.  That assumption was incorrect, however, since they cut it up and served us pieces as soon as we were done with the bread.  

Hayley 4The sunset behind my house in Kanye

Even though we did not always understand what was going on, I had a blast at all of the events and they were unlike anything else I have ever experienced before.

11/21/2017

Night Life in Gaborone

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Ariana Bautista from UC  Berkeley

It’s been a little over three months since I arrived in Gabs, and it’s been a ride. From weeklong road trips, to cultural excursions, to hitting up the nightlife scene, I’ve met awesome folks along the way who have made my experience here worthwhile. In this blog post, I will talk about a few bars/clubs, give you a few tips and discuss what to expect from Gabs nightlife.

As you may know by now, the drinking age in Bots is 18, which means almost all of you are of legal age to consume alcohol here ;) With that being said, it is important to stay safe at all times and not partaking in any adventure (no matter how tempting) that endangers your life or anyone else’s. Basic rule of thumb, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in the states.

*Most of the clubs and bars I’ve frequented attract a lot of tourists and outsiders, I have yet to experience local bars in the city.*

Bars

2A few international students having dinner and drinks at Main Deck

Main Deck: Found in Main Mall, this restaurant-bar (you will quickly notice that, unless you go to a local bar, most establishments that serve alcohol are restaurant-bars) serves good food (try their pizzas!) and drinks are well prepared. The prices for drinks are similar to that of the states (with your conversion rate, one mixed drink in the states averages to about $8, and in Gabs costing you ~P65). Some are obviously cheaper or more expensive, depends on what you order, but generally the cost of drinks remains the same from place to place.

Tips: On Thursdays, local bands perform. Also, if you have a big group, make sure to arrive a little early (~6/7 pm, especially Thursday-Saturday, as that is when it is most packed) or be prepared to wait.

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News Café happy hour deal (hence two of the same drinks), plus wings & chips

News Café: Walking distance from campus (~13 min), this restaurant-bar is best on Thurs & Friday for their happy hour (5-7pm). All drinks (with the exception of some, make sure to ask which ones are part of their happy hour deal!) are buy one get one free. It’s best to order with someone because they bring both drinks out at the same time, so unless you want to drink two of the same, I’d recommend splitting it.

Clubs

Chez Nicolas: Ok, time for a change. Chez is a club in CBD, and in my opinion, plays better music than other clubs in Gabs. In general, it is always better- and more fun- to go out to Chez with a big group.

Tips: make sure to check out their Facebook page for events and whatnot. Usually, ladies get in for free before 9pm on Fridays and 11pm on Saturdays. After said times, the cover charge is P100.

Absolut: Named after, you guessed it, Sweden’s Absolut Vodka, this roof-top club is found inside Masa Centre (another general area to hit up if you’re in the mood for good dinner &/or drinks).

Tips: Local students say to go to Absolut first on a Saturday night and end it at Chez. Absolut also has a cover charge of P100 after 9pm for ladies and gents. Age limit is 21 & over.

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Local musicians playing at Main Deck on a Thursday night

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Going out does not always mean drinks, sometimes it just means grabbing din din at Pizza Hut! 

Finally, it is best to ask Bethel to drop you off & pick you up from wherever you’re going. He knows his way around Gabs and can also give you tips on new places to eat/drink (plus he’s safe & reliable!). Lastly, and this applies to ladies mainly, you will attract unsolicited advances and conversations from men. If you want to engage and interact, go ahead! However, if you are not interested, you are free to say no, they will most likely leave you alone. This is why I also recommend traveling in larger groups, so that you have each other in case anything makes a left turn. Don’t fret, from my experiences (and that of other international students), we have not felt unsafe or in danger the times we’ve gone out. Batswana are generally super friendly and helpful, so don’t be scared to go out and have a blast!

11/13/2017

Fun in the sun and a bush drive

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DSC_0817Fun in the sun at Lion park

Such an activity to look forward to, as the clouds cleared and made way for the clear sky and the rides looked more exciting to ride, even though it’s not the first time here but The Beach in the Bush we are more exited to creating new memories on this fun filled day.We couldn't resist cheese burger with fries as we indulged in a variety to choose from.

The resort had lion viewing, its scaring and thrilling at the same time, but we couldn't miss the opportunity to  see male lions. The resort has five lions, three males and two females. Simba the leader of the group couldn’t care less that we were there and they continued their afternoon nap.

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Splash!

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The hot weather, made us want to jump in the “ocean” as the magical waves hit upon our skins and playing ocean basketball with the locals.

We wouldn’t end the day without going on the tallest roller coaster in Africa the amazing Gwazi roller coaster, at the resort has an abundance of adventures that us the young heart couldn’t wait to try all the rides out, from the star dancer, to the big terries wheel. Watching the beautiful Afrian sunset from the terries wheel, we call it day, pack up and ready to go home.

Memories made.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary and Serowe museum

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The 4 hours drive is finally over as we reach our destination, Khama Rhino Sanctuary in time for our game drive, but before that long awaited activity we had to check in first. We grabbed our sweaters and blankets and jumped into the game van to see the all kinds of animals, covering at least half of the 8 585 hectares of the Kalahari Sandveld and we drove around the green vegetation that lays against the grey clouds, thanks to the rains.

DSC_0943Ready for the game drive Kayla?

 

DSC_0994No game drive can end without seeing Impalas, thousands of them moving around grazing.

DSC_1023If only our camera can zoom to the maximum as we spotted a Rhino.

The game drive was ended with hot chocolate as it was cloudy with a little drizzle and we went straight to the restaurant for dinner served at 7 pm. We drove back to our camp site for the night festivities, our famous bonfire as we could bond to s’mores and more marshmallows.

DSC_0033Breakfast is served the next morning at 7:30 am. Sala sentle Khama Rhino till we meet again.

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 Serowe Museum

Another day, another mission, after spending the night at Khama Rhino sanctuary, we embarked on a  journey to the Khama III Memorial Museum in the heart of Serowe.

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The museum showcases the history of the Khama family and how Serowe developed throughout the years. There are exhibits on San culture and a section about Bassie Head as we were given a history of her life as she left Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and settled in Serowe, Botswana. She died in Serowe 1981 aged 49.  The museum depicts a true tswana village and its always remarkable to see.

DSC_0115A traditional tswana homestead

A sun-kissed day and one night in the bush!

11/08/2017

Southern Africa Adventure Tips

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Alexa Steiber from Allegheny College

Almost 2 weeks ago I got back from one of the most awesome road trips of my life. In about 10 days, 9 of my friends and I drove around and explored 3 countries. Many things were learned, some things were lost, hopefully this blog post will provide all prospective road trippers with some helpful do’s and do not’s for adventuring in Southern Africa.

Swaziland

Do's:

  • Go caving with Swazi Trails!! Hiking, chocolate, caving, and relaxing in hot springs with pizza and beer is all part of the package (the bigger the group the bigger the discount). Bonus: you get to wear super flattering, breaking bad-looking, jumpsuits.
  • Stay at Sundowners Hostel. It’s cute, the beds are comfy, the showers are nice, and if you’re interested in the peace corps there are usually a few volunteers living there that are happy to talk.

Don'ts:

  • Trust me, there are cops everywhere, and they are sneaky. Stick to the speed limit, and pay attention to the signs, they drop from 120 to 60 even at the smallest villages.
  • Arrive at the border crossings from South Africa to Swaziland too late in the day (especially on weekends), the lines are very long.

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Lesotho

Do's:

  • Go hiking. Lesotho is the land of beautiful mountains and zero fences, take full advantage! There are hikes for all levels, as well as guides for hire if you don’t feel comfortable wandering on your own (none of the trails are marked).
  • Stay at Malealea Lodge. There is a cute gift shop, bar area, and coffee shop. Live music is played almost every night and the owner has cute dogs if you’re a dog lover like me.
  • Spend more than one night here. The drive from Swaziland was long, the lodge and the landscape are beautiful, you deserve to relax.

Don'ts:

  • Drive in Lesotho at night
  • Go hiking without written directions, a compass, at least one buddy, and perhaps experience with exploring unmarked trails.

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South Africa

Do’s:

  • Go Bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bridge jump in the world. The adrenaline, the bragging rights, the views, totally worth it.
  • Stay at tube n’ axe near Bloukrans Bridge. Super clean, great atmosphere, great breakfast, great common spaces and pool. 10/10 hostel.
  • Go to Cape Town. We chose to stay at an Airbnb in Hout Bay for most of the week which worked great. However, if you’re a smaller group there are great hostels in the city, we stayed at CapeTown HomeBase Backpackers for a few nights. It had a great location and very helpful staff.
  • Take a bus tour. Can’t stress enough how amazing our little bus tour was, we hit almost every “must-see” tourist attraction in just one day. We used Lucky and Lost tour company, I highly recommend it, the guide was incredibly nice, funny, and knowledgeable.
  • Hike Lion’s Head and Table Mountain
  • Explore the V&A waterfront. Awesome market with diverse food, stores, people, you name it. The aquarium and the mall are also right there.

Don'ts:

  • Walk around alone at night. There are beggars everywhere and they will follow you for blocks.
  • Carry a ton of cash on you when you go out.

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10/24/2017

A Day in the Life

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Paige Pearson from Tulane University

Hey guys!

For my blog post, I thought I’d take you through a typical clinical observation morning and school day here at UB. When I initially registered for the Community Public Health program, I was worried I wouldn’t be qualified to do the clinical observation component of the curriculum. I have found it to be accessible to people pursuing a variety of majors and with a range of medical knowledge.

Let me explain a little bit about clinical observation first. The objective is to get an understanding of Botswana’s public clinic system by sitting in on consultations, touring the facilities, and interacting with medical staff. We are typically sent out to the clinics in pairs, which I really appreciate because I don’t have to do the commute alone and can compare my observations with my partner. Each pair rotates to a new clinic every three weeks; in total, we will each see four different clinics during our time here. Here is what one of my clinic days is like.

Tuesday morning

6:00 AM: Alarm clock goes off.

6:35 AM: I meet Ariana, my clinic partner, in the hallway between our rooms. We walk to the combi stop by campus together while I eat oatmeal and get strange looks from the people who pass us.  

6:50 AM: Ariana and I get into a taxi, going to Station. Most of the clinics in the rotation require just one taxi or combi ride, but the clinic we’re currently visiting requires us to change at Station because it’s a little farther from campus.

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Wearing my white coat in an (empty) consultation room

7:30 AM: We arrive at the clinic right before the staff begins to see patients. We are allowed to choose between observing general consultations, the child welfare clinic, vitals, IDCC (Infectious Disease Care Clinic), and the sexual and reproductive health areas. At this time, Ariana and I usually split up— some of the other students choose to observe together, but we feel it’s better if there is just one of us in the consultation room at a time.

8:00-9:30 AM: I usually divide my time at the clinic between Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and general consultations or IDCC. This morning at SRH is fairly typical; I observe several routine antenatal check ups and a consultation on contraception.

9:30-9:45 AM: I head over to the IDCC area. I watch four HIV patients have blood drawn for liver function, viral load, and CD4 cell count tests before feeling queasy and excusing myself from the room. Sometimes I feel like I could totally see myself working in a clinic, and this is not one of them.

9:45-11:30 AM: I spend the rest of my morning in the IDCC consultation room, where a doctor is reviewing test results and drug regimens with patients.

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Moghul Refectory

11:30 AM: Ariana and I leave the clinic and head back to campus for lunch and classes. We have lunch together at Moghul, the cafeteria near the main academic buildings.

1:00-3:00 PM: Africa in World Politics Lecture

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Emily and Daniela practicing dialogue in Setswana

3:00-4:00 PM: CIEE Setswana class

4:00-5:00 PM: CIEE Community Health Practicum class. This class serves to relate what we’re observing in clinic to Botswana’s health care system and to educate us about the major health concerns in this country.

I hope this was informative for those of you who were curious about the CPH program! For the most part, I enjoy visiting the clinics, especially when I can talk to medical staff. Observation has also given me a unique way to learn more about what life is like for Batswana, since the health care system here serves everyone.  

10/16/2017

Lending a helping hand

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This fall, ciee decided to try something new and refreshing on our community engagement activity. We spent the Saturday with the amazing Botswana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( BSPCA) located in Broadhurst, a 15 minutes drive from the university of Botswana. Since 1987 the BSPCA has been working in and around Gaborone to help improve the lives of animals and to help people provide better care for their pets. This is a center devoted to providing care for animals by providing shelter and food for homeless animals, unwanted, neglected, stray and abused dogs and cats with the aim of finding them good homes. They currently house and care for over 130 dogs and 60 cats, as well as the two cattle, donkey or goat.

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As the centre of operations for the BSPCA, the Shelter is always in need of your assistance to continue and advance these levels of protection and care for the animals.

2ciee staff and students

This was no ordinary day for all for us, for some, it was the perfect opportunity to love, nurture and play with animals while others like me, had to challenge themselves and face their fears, dogs! The day started with a tour around the place and a summary of the various services that (BSPCA) offers like vaccination, grooming and feeding just to name a few. Following this, was a visit to the “kitten nursery” where we learned about properly taking care of baby cats.

3Heeey kitty kitty

4Meeeow

We then broke into pairs as we prepared ourselves to give the dogs a little exercise. This was an easy and fun task especially with the snacks on our hands. We took walks and young jogs, played catch and even taught some dogs to sit. We witnessed a new entry to the BSPCA family, a pitbull whose owner was relocating and had no one to take care of it.

Challenges faced

Fear of dogs was the most common, some can handle their fear of dogs some cant, our resident director Base, faced her fears face on, by taking  the opportunity to walk the dogs while Lebo was focusing on getting through her trauma of dogs. There was this particular hyper active dog that wouldn’t even give one of our volunteers, Eunice, the opportunity to walk it but rather wanted to be in charge.

5Lebo walking with her newly made bestfriend!

6Base and Paige walking the dog

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and we helped to feed the dogs which by the way were very eager to eat! They have a standard feeding time at 12pm. While other people were busy feeding dogs, others hung out with different animals like cows, rabbits and the very lovely Peggy the goat!

We ended the day on a positive note as we donated food for dogs and cats. The center was very thankful for this kind gesture.

10ciee staff and students presenting donations

 

Past Donors

Mowana Park Market

Every second Saturday of the month BSPCA will have a stall at Mowana Park. Books and second hand goods, and sells it to the public.

Bush and Bull Farmer´s Market

Every last Saturday of the month, 10 am to 2 pm. Come and meet our adorable pups and dogs. The famous BSPCA book stall will also be there.

One of the local business Kenzo Enterprises donated 28 boxes of Whiskas for cats in one of the events for BSPCA.

09/18/2017

Dumelang (Hello)

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To kick off the semester, we take our students to Bahurutshe Cultural Village and Mokolodi Nature Reserve, which are both slightly outside of the capital city, Gaborone. In today’s issue, we will be taking you on their first CIEE excursion of the Semester. Here’s what is in today’s issue:

Welcome to Bahurutshe!

Exploring the Village

Immersed in Culture

Mokolodi

Bahurutshe Cultural Village is an innovative cultural lodging facility which offers a wide variety of different traditional practices for guests to enjoy. As the students are based in the capital city where rich cultural practices are not easily accessible, Bahurutshe Cultural Village is a great way for the students to get acquainted with a few of our native practices.

On arrival, the students were welcomed by Vicky followed by a hearty breakfast to kick off their jam-packed day. 

Bahurutshe 1Eggs, Mince, Wedges and Phaphatha

Bahurutshe 2Breakfast is served!

Exploring the Village!

While Bahurutshe Cultural Village offers a variety of different cultural practices, it is located in and around villages which have a lot of historical monuments worth visiting. To avoid restricting the students to only staying at Bahurutshe, we took them to a number of different places to experience not only current traditional practices offered at Bahurutshe, but to also get a chance to learn about our history.

Manyana, a neighbouring village to Mankgodi where Bahurutshe Cultural Village is located, is home to Manyana Rock Paintings. It is said that these Rock Paintings date back from 1100 and 1700AD and were made by Khoi Herders for sacred, religious and spiritual rituals. The images include giraffe, antelope and human figures amongst other things and now serve as a popular tourist attraction. Have a look at our students’ experience:

Bahurutshe 3Our students taking in the view!

Bahurutshe 4Ariana!

Bahurutshe 6Faint human paintings

Next on the agenda was a visit to Livingston’s Tree on the south end of the village. This Fig Tree which now rests on its branches, is said to be a common place under which David Livingston preached. Take a look at their time at the tree:

Bahurutshe 7

Bahurutshe 8Keya and Gontse with the students!

Immersed in Culture!

To end off the day, the students were welcomed back to Bahurutshe Cultural Village where they partook in varying cultural practices. While these are done for the purpose of entertaining guests and are as such in some ways performative, the primary focus is in preserving different Tswana traditional practices and sharing it with those interested. The Bahurutshe Cultural Village was established in 2005 for the purpose of conserving the rich culture of the Bahurutshe people. As an unfortunate result of colonialism and westernization, certain aspects of Tswana culture at large has slowly disappeared and as such the need to preserve it has sprung.

The students got a chance to witness how a traditional wedding is done, pound sorghum, watch traditional dance, ride on a donkey cart and see their livestock. Have a look:

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Bahurutshe 10Emily and Alexa pounding Sorghum


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  Traditional dance!

Bahurutshe 12Paige cuddling a goat!

After a long of day of exploring Manyana Village and indulging in different cultural activities, the students called it a night after dinner and prepared for their trip to Mokolodi Nature Reserve the following morning.

Mokolodi Nature Reserve was established in 1994 where it was previously land used for cattle farming. It has now grown to be the home of a wide variety of animals and plants of which some are rare and endangered species. In addition to offering Game Activities such as Game Drives, Rhino and Giraffe Tracking, Mokolodi Nature Reserve offers luxurious accommodation, camping facilities and a delicious restaurant. To give the students a taste of what Mokolodi has to offer, we give them the opportunity to go on a Game Drive and have lunch to end off their first excursion!

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Bahurutshe 14Hey! Look! It’s a Giraffe!

Bahurutshe 15Emily and Hayley get up close and personal with a Warthog!

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Bahurutshe 17Lunch is served!

 

09/12/2017

So…Why Botswana?

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Kayla Samuels from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

It has been a little over a month since my propeller plane touched down in Gaborone! It has been a whirlwind of a month, from meeting new people, trying traditional foods, learning the ins and outs of public transportation, and adjusting to my new home for the next semester. In this month of continuous adjustment, the question that has been circulating in my mind is the good old “So why did you choose to come to Botswana?” I received this question what felt like a trillion times before I left, and by the last few weeks before my departure I had mastered my answer. I’d say, “I have always wanted to study abroad. I took an Arts of Africa class my freshman year and loved it, oh and I knew someone who studied at UB a few years ago. So I went for it.” I have also gotten the curious “Why Botswana?” question a good amount since I have been living in Gaborone. So, here’s why I chose to study in Bots!

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This is my dorm bed and my stuffed bunny!

I have come across a good amount of challenges since landing in Botswana. I was robbed my third night in Gabs, which left me shaken. I have had to get used to the constant staring and cat-calling. I have had to learn how to be patient when the Wifi isn’t working or when a class I wanted to register for got canceled. Every day isn’t perfect in Gabs.

Now for the positives (just to name a few): I have met unbelievably kind local people such as the CIEE volunteers and random strangers assisting me with directions. I have met women who are tenacious, strong, and resilient, especially when it comes to fighting social norms constructed through the patriarchal society in which they live in. I have seen animals ranging from giraffes to impala (they are super rare here in Gabrone), as well as stunning sunrises and beautiful star-filled skies. I have engaged in conversations about public health, race, religion, colonization, and job insecurity. Some of my fondest memories from this past month include our welcome Braai (a BBQ), camping in the Makgadikgadi Pans, spending a night filled with laughter at our friend’s house, and dancing at a semi-poppin' club one Thursday night.

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Just some flamingos on the Pans!

 

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Welcome Braai! Dumela ("Hello" in Setswana)!

So how does this answer the question, “Why Botswana?” I didn’t have a clear-cut reason why I chose to study abroad in Botswana, and my knowledge about this country before coming here was quite bleak. What I know now, however, is why I am still here: because it is helping me become more independent, it is forcing me to think critically about the West’s view of Africa, and it has given me what I already consider friends that I know will last much longer than these 5 months. When I was robbed a few weeks back my parents stressed that if I wasn’t happy here I could come home. Even in my moments of extreme uncertainty, leaving has never crossed my mind. I still have the ‘butterflies swarming in your stomach’ feeling that I’ve picked the right place to study abroad.

I am not a believer that everything happens for a reason; I think things just happen. I happened to have chosen Botswana, but now it’s up to me to decide what kind of experience I will create for myself. So to any student contemplating studying in Botswana, I say go for it, even if you can’t articulate exactly why you have the urge to study here. I am only a month in, so I say this with a splash of optimism that I believe this program will be meaningful, fun, impactful, difficult and transformative. 

So “Why Botswana” you ask? Well, I truly despise clichés, but I kind of think Botswana chose me. 

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Sorry for the oxymoron above. Peace out!