Orientation Week in Botswana

Authored by:
Tsaone M.

Tsaone M.

The spring 2019 group is finally in Gaborone, Botswana! It’s always exciting at the beginning of the semester as we student volunteers are always eager to meet the new students. CIEE has a number of fifteen students this spring, two gentlemen and 13 ladies. Day one of orientation week was airport pickups, most of the students arrived at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Monday January the 21st where I met them for the first time, I was very pleased to meet them as we welcomed them to our lovely country, Botswana. 

On the second day we had our formal introductions where we got to know each other a bit more. We played an Ice-Breaker exercise where people had to mention things people wouldn’t know about us by just looking at us which was pretty interesting. We then had a workshop on dealing with dorm life and homestay which was very insightful for the students, followed by a little excursion to Game City Mall where the students got to shop for necessities.

Wednesday we had a culture shock and adjustment session where students were taught ways of how to deal with or adjust being in a different culture. We then took the students on a tour of the university courtesy of the CIEE volunteers where I shared some facts about The University of Botswana. It was interesting because I got to learn a few things about their Universities back in America, and through this guide the students learnt how to navigate UB. My group was really amazing and engaging during the tour; I showed them important places on campus such as the library, Student Centre, Administration Block, The Cafeterias and The Indoor Sports Center. After lunch we had a survival setswana session where a setswana teacher taught them helpful setswana words such as "Dumela Mma/Rra(Hello Ma'am/Sir")  ''Ke kopa metsi(May I please have water)"

Thursday morning was academics and registration time and sessions on clinics/arts & social community outreach. During this time students registered their courses with the help of us the students volunteers and program assistant Lebo. After lunch we went to Thamaga Pottery which is located in Thamaga village which is 52.1 km from the campus. It is nonprofit making organization that provides pottery services .They make different products and each product is hand crafted and decorated with traditional tswana designs that are inherited from ancestors who used them to decorate the outsides and floors of their mud huts. We learnt the process of making pottery and some students had the opportunity to try making pottery of their own.

On Friday we had a city tour all morning. The students had the opportunity to site see and learn more about Gaborone and its history. We visited different places like the Thapong Visual Atrs Center where the students viewed an array of artwork created by local artists including musical instruments, Sanitas Garden where they got to see plants, a township area called Old Naledi, The Musuem, The three chifts monument, and The Parliament. We then had lunch and did some cultural activities at Foods and Craft.

Saturday which was our last day of orientation week where we took part in our version of the hit US reality TV series Amazing Race!! This is to teach students how to use public transportation. Not to brag or anything but my team made it first, just putting it out there, but it’s still anyone’s game because creativity matters as well. We all then went home to get ready for our welcome dinner where we all had a great time and had more than seconds at the Avani buffet. I hope they have a great stay in Botswana and I can’t wait to make more memories with the students.

By Ruby Pitinyane

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