Summer 2014 Issue III: A Quick 8 Weeks
We had a jam-packed eight weeks with the summer 2014 students. Although they were here for such a short time, they engaged with the community, grew to felt like Gaborone was home, and even traveled internationally! Check out this issue of the Gaborone Newsletter to see all that they got up to.
Here's what's in this issue:
A great way to experience the Gaborone life from afar is through the eyes of the students. They wrote about everything from tasting new food and traveling to nearby countries, to the academic experience. It is never too late to catch up on these jam-packed blogs!
Sara Sanders introduced us to the first few weeks of life in Gaborone in her post, "Dumela Botswana!" Part of adjusting to any new location is trying local food. Abbey Kennedy and Asia Moore had different experiences in this endeavor. In Abbey's blog, "Dumelang Borra Le Bomma, Ke Rata Botswana!” she described her newfound love of the food, whereas Asia had difficulty eating mopane worms in "More Mopane Please."
In addition to food, students wrote about other aspects of their adjustments. Alex Gary and Brett Solfermoser took the opportunity to explain the transport system and grad village dorms on campus in their posts, "Using the Transportation System in Gaborone" and "The Summer Dorm Experience," respectively.
We are committed to helping our students get more acquainted with the community. One way in which we do that is by organizing some opportunities to volunteer. In Michaela Riley's post, "An Introduction to Botswana Wildlife: Mokolodi Nature Reserve," she talked about our activities in Mokolodi; we spent a few hours helping to prevent soil erosion and ended the day watching giraffes on an exciting game drive. At our volunteer afternoon at Batlang Support Group, we had a great time entertaining the preschoolers. Read all about it in Alex Vasquez's post, "My Day at Batlang."
Another great way to spend weekends is to travel around the region. Our students opened their horizons through CIEE and independently-organized trips. Maria Harlan and Bianca Herrera wrote about the fun they had learning about local culture at the Bahurutshe Cultural Village in their respective posts, "African Reflections" and "Bianca's in Botswana!" Our trip to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe was chronicled by Meaghan Pope in her post, "Fun in Serowe." We also banded together to climb Kgale Hill, which Allie McConville described in her post, "Hiking Kgale."
If you are interested in traveling to Cape Town in South Africa or the Okavango Delta in Botswana, you can't miss Rachel Auerbach and Sophie Brickman's blog posts. In "Traveling While Abroad: The Cape Town Experience," Rachel took a beautiful tour of South Africa' Cape. Sophie spent a fun-filled day on a mokoro ride in "Lessons from the Okavango Delta."
All students that come to Gaborone in the summer enter the Community Public Health (CPH) program. They visit clinics and health-related non-governmental organizations in Gaborone. For a snapshot of a day in the life of a CPH student, check out Kylie Chase's post, "Clinic Craziness."
A week of the summer program is spent outside of Gaborone, in the village of Kanye. Students stay with a host family, learn to cook traditional food and visit a traditional court. They are given the chance to compare the urban and rural public health systems. Three students wrote their blog posts about the Kanye experience. For personal anecdotes, check out, "A Week in Kanye" by Kate Taylor, "A Second Look at a Week in Kanye" by Caitlin Bond, and "Adapting to a New Lifestyle" by Emily Greenwald.
Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. Many students use their blog post as a space to reflect. In "Overcoming Obstacles," Ashley Henderson wrote that friends and family were nervous about her trip, so she was proud that she chose to come. Katrina Boi remarked about how close the group had become in her post, "Our Summer Abroad." They even had the opportunity to see elephants together up in Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana.
The students all enroll in a 2-credit Setswana Language and Culture course. In addition to Setswana language, they do numerous activities to help them get acquainted with the local culture. The first activity is called the Combi Safari.
In the combi safari, students compete for the grand prize of a dinner at a nice restaurant in Gaborone. To win, they must use combis to get around the city and take creative photos at different points of interest. Combis are 15-passenger vans that follow specific routes and have a set price. They are the most common form of public transportation in Gaborone.
Check out some of the great photos from this summer's combi safari:
The winning group's photos were put up on our youtube channel. Check out Ashley, Asia, Brett and Bianca's style. They took the combi safari assignment to the next level, truly enjoying their experiences.
The students had amazing excursions during their time in Gaborone. Two of them are captured in earlier newsletters. If you missed them, check out these links for more details!
The first chronicled the students' trip to the Bahurutshe Cultural Village on Friday, June 13th. They learned how to dance the traditional Bahurutshe dances, tasted local food and climbed into some beautiful caves.
The second edition of the newsletter chronicled our volunteer day at Mokolodi Nature Reserve on June 14th. Everyone worked hard in the morning and enjoyed a game drive and delicious bush braai in the late afternoon.
One of the activities that students enjoy partaking in while in Gaborone is climbing Kgale Hill. Kgale Hill is the largest hill in Gaborone, standing tall at 4,222 feet above sea level. It is great exercise and affords a beautiful view of Gaborone from the top. What a great way to begin a Saturday morning!
Around 10 am we all met to climb the hill. We took combis and taxis to Game City mall and walked ten minutes on a tarred road to reach the summit. The climb began well; there were clearly-marked paths and we were finding our way easily.
We stopped for a group photo after about thirty minutes.
Even from part-way up, the view was something to behold. But we had to keep climbing.
After we had traversed the open rock space, we weren't sure how to get back to the trail. A nice passerby told us to climb back down the side we were on to get to the peak of Kgale Hill.
After the open spaces, we commenced the climb through a more bush-like area. We posed for one more group picture before we reached the top.
The light was beautiful through the trees as we began the last part of our climb. But it took almost an hour! We had someone in our group who had done the climb before, but she couldn't remember the trail. There were arrows at the beginning, and after a while they disappeared. Our easy mid-day hike turned into more of a strenuous climb. Luckily, those of us who had two water bottles shared with those students who forgot.
Finally, after two hours, we made it to the top!
The top of the hill boasts an old radio tower that is no longer in use. It is a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike.
The best part about the climb is the view from the top.
Michaela and Abbey enjoyed the view of the Gaborone Dam in the distance. The Dam is a huge water supply for the residents of Gaborone. Currently the Dam stands at 15% capacity and water shortage is a recurring issue.
Even though everyone was pretty hungry by the time we finished the hike, we had a great time! There are many ways to entertain yourself in Gaborone, but Kgale Hill is not to be missed!
That brings us to the end of the Summer 2014 newsletter. Until next time, sala sentle (stay well)!