Throughout my two-month stay in Botswana, I was able to experience so many different things that made me appreciate the culture and learn about the people of the country. The CIEE planned events were some of the most fun times that I had! While visiting Bahurutse Cultural Village, we got to see traditional dance and we were welcomed into the village by the chief and elders. We learned about Batswana tribes and totems, and the importance of staying true to where you come from. At Mokolodi Nature Reserve and Khama Rhino, we took game drives and got to appreciate the beautiful wildlife and expansiveness of Botswana's natural scenery. At the Serowe museum, we got to learn about the history of Botswana and its first president.
I had so many opportunities to try traditional Batswana food, especially because I lived in a homestay. The food from Botswana is so rich and comforting, and it reminds me so much of home. One of the things that I loved the most about studying abroad in Botswana was being able to make cultural comparisons between Botswana and home. As a Black American, I found so many similarities between the student volunteers and I. It really made me understand just how closely linked the Black diaspora is. Sometimes, when we are separated in our various cultures and countries, it's hard to recognize how much Black people have in common all over the world. Visiting Botswana made me feel like I have a home away from home.
The biggest word of advice that I have for anyone studying in Botswana in the future is: put yourself out there! Be open to new experiences. Go explore the city with the help of the student volunteers. Plan outings with other people in the CIEE group. Go on trips to other parts of Botswana. You will not regret any of it. Yes, at times it will be scary to be in a completely new country with different cultural norms and social cues, but that is also the beauty of being here. Getting out of your comfort zone and learning so many things about yourself in the process. After finishing my trip, I feel like I can travel anywhere and be alright. I feel like I have new knowledge about Africa that I can take back to America and educate people with. There are so many benefits to international travel. It makes you realize just how small of a piece you inhabit in this world, how vast and expansive human experience is. It's truly humbling.