My Sense of Belonging in Botswana

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Arts + Sciences

By: Brianna James

Even though my study abroad program concluded in May 2023, I am still brought to tears of reminiscence when I reflect on all those wonderful moments I experienced while I was there. I was nervous about going to Botswana at first, not just because it is another continent that is far from the US, but because of my fear of feeling like an outcast. As much as I looked like a Motswana (Citizen of Botswana), I feared that I would be seen as an outcast due to being “from” the US.

However, I was happily relieved with the sense of warmth that I received, and in the influx of questions about what differences or similarities that myself and the people in Botswana shared. Turns out- we are a lot more similar than I thought! We eat similar foods and cook them in similar ways as well (Yams, collard greens, beef). We even share similar mannerisms and expressions. For a long time, I knew that I had some sort of ‘instinctual’ parts of my personality and culture, but I never imagined how nearly mirrored it was with Africa.

I was also almost immediately given the title of a fellow Motswana and felt the most culturally included than I ever have. Many people assumed I was an official citizen of Botswana. Throughout my time studying in this country, I have met friends that are forever-term, and have even discovered many parts about myself as a student and as a person of African descent. I will always know that Botswana is another home for me.