Dumelang! My name is Brandon, and I am studying community and public health this Fall 2022 at the University of Botswana. The Community Public Health program consists of taking a setswana language course, a public and environmental health course, and finally a community health practicum course. In addition to the program courses we also take three courses of our choice with local University of Botswana students. The courses separate from the program courses are chosen upon arrival to Botswana and they are courses that align with your own interest.
I am going to talk about life in Gaborone, Botswana through the Community Public Health Program as well as the University of Botswana and what daily life would look like for students in this program and at this University.
- First I am going to talk about managing a school system that runs a little differently than the one I am used to back in the USA.
- Lecturers at UB use different forms of teaching methods then lecturers in the U.S for instance they may just speak on a topic. Some lecturers may write a word or two down on the whiteboard as they talk about a topic. There are some lecturers who may use slides (But this is more seldom).
- The grading system is also very different. UB courses follow the following grading scale: A= 80%+ B=70%+ C=60%+ D=50%+ and so on. At UB D's are accepted and if you get between 45% to 49% you are eligible to take a supplemental exam to pass the course with a D. With this difference in how grading works in UB one may think it is easier to obtain a higher grade like an A. But just like how the grading scale is easier the grading scheme is a bit harder. To obtain a percentage higher than 70% can be more difficult to do. Lecturers believe that obtaining a 80% or higher one must really know the topic extensively.
- Lecturers at UB do hold high standards and do expect the highest amount of respect. The proffesors are here to make sure you obtain the best education possible but this is often reciprocated through tough love. They do genuinely want to see you succeed.
- Secondly I am going to talk about what the Community Public Health Program is like.
- The community public health program is a special program because this program has an amazing group of volunteers and employees that make you feel safe and at home in another country. In the program you do a lot of experiential learning that makes the entire experience of studying abroad in Botswana a truly amazing one. In this program I got to go to a traditional Botswana wedding in a village called Ramotswa, a homestay braai at a local Botswana household in a village called Mogoditshane, a village excursion where we got to learn and experience tswana traditional cultural activities like traditional dancing at the Bahurutshe cultural village, a volunteer day at 'I am special' where we donated and spent time gardening/ coloring with the children with disabilities, a volunteer day at 'SOS children's home' where we donated and spent time with the orphan children doing activities like football/ volleyball, a safari game drive at Mokolodi Nature reserve, and a game drive at Khama Rhino sanctuary where we can embraced the impacts of tourism in Botswana.
- Daily life with the community public health program consists of learning the culture and language in Botswana. It is important to understand the culture and try to learn the native language in a country you are embedding yourself into. This allows you to obtain a better experience when studying abroad. In the setswana course you will learn and then put your learning into practice. For example we got to learn how to order food, and then went as a class to the street vendors to order food in setswana.
- We then have the public and environmental health course where we learn about issues that Botswana as a country faces for example water sanitation. We learn a lot about issues that developing countries have to face on a regular basis.
- Finally we have my favorite course which is the community health practicum course. This is the course that actually attracted me to the program. In this course we get to immerse ourselves into the health system here in Botswana as public health majors. This program has two parts to it, a part where we learn about things like HIV in a classroom setting and a part where we actively get involved in health in Botswana by going to clinics weekly and by participating in a village health expo. We got to go and profile a village called Kgope to better understand the village and its needs to then provide a health expo for the village as a part of our course.
All in all, while it can be a challenge at times living and learning in Botswana because it takes some getting used to, it really is a beautiful experience getting to study at the university of Botswana through CIEE with the community public health program.