Thursday 27-06-2013

Today Alice and I were planning on getting up early enough to go to breakfast. But by the time our lovely alarm clock rang at 5:50, though, we both just weren’t feeling it, so went back to bed for a bit. Once 6:30 rolled around, I was actually feeling much more refreshed.

I got up super-quickly, got changed and managed to have some milk and cereal in the room. I even ate an apple on my way to the staffroom (and arrived at the staff room before the meeting started!) During first block, I corrected lots of homework, and during second block Daniel and I had maths.

Maths went really well today. We realised that we need to break everything down into its most basic form (i.e. yesterday we casually brushed over the fact that a trapezium has only one pair of parallel sides, since the kids had already been introduced to trapeziums in prior years and we were most concerned with finding areas) but today we had the kids write out the different definitions of the parts of the circle.

To add some fun to the class, Daniel, who has memorized about two dozen digits of pi, wrote them out on the board from memory. As soon as he wrote this, one of our students muttered under his breath, “and then he invented Facebook!”

After that, we gave the students who hadn’t turned in homework the choice of having detention after school or spending their 20-minute break in the classroom with us going over said missed homework. Two of our kids chose the detention route, but one (smartly) chose the break route. I stayed with Allen during break, and it was much easier to go over the things he missed on his homework one-on-one. I told him he was smart for missing his break (20 minutes) instead of going to detention for an hour, and he agreed.

Miracles of miracles, when I came to the staff room around 9:18, there were not one but TWO peanut butter sandwiches left that I was able to eat (which is super-rare, since normally the PB sandwiches are the first to go!) Then all the MaPterns headed over to Mr. Taylor’s house for a special MaP scholars session.

Today, past MaP scholars (i.e. past MaP students who had already spent their year at boarding school and are going to be freshmen in college this coming fall) came back to talk to the current MaP scholars. They talked about the academic, social, and racial challenges that they faced in the states, and gave particularly sage advice about what the MaP scholars should be doing right now (i.e. writing their college essays and studying for the SATs).

After that, I had the next couple of blocks free, and it was nice not having to lesson plan for once (since Mr. Laverick will be teaching maths tomorrow, because we’re off to Kasane!) Then it was time for lunch – chicken and pasta (and yes, I will keep bringing it up, because I have to enjoy it while I can, but I was part of a MAJORITY today of people with ketchup on their pasta at lunch!)

Then we had quite a bit of free time. I had a delicious pear and cashew nut snack before “heading out” for the afternoon. I went to the staff room to try to get some WiFi and ended up having a really nice conversation with Ms. Turnball. She is the organizer of all the SPEs – quite a few of which happen off-campus! She was lamenting the fact that the public school and private school calendars don’t always match up, and therefore it’s a challenge when a lot of the Service SPEs involve going to visit and help out at (less privileged) public schools.

I was then able to catch some of the girl’s football scrimmage. They were playing Legae in a half-field scrimmage/friendly, and I even witnessed MaP score a goal (and they ended up winning 1-0)! After a bit of football watching, I headed back to the library to do some last-minute Vic Falls research.

Later, Jennifer and I headed over to Daniel’s room to discuss whether or not we wanted to go to Riverwalk Mall today. We decided not to go, but I ended up having a great conversation with them and Bikey. That’s what I love about being here – while sometimes having “too much” free time can be boring, it often leads to spontaneous conversations, things that you can’t really “schedule” into any part of a day.

After a shower, it was time for dinner. I took malerone (anti-malaria meds) for the first time tonight with dinner. I’m starting the meds today because we’re headed off to Kasane/Victoria Falls tomorrow!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) that means that I will be computer-less until Monday/Tuesday (depending on what time zone you’re in). I’m going to try to take detailed(ish) notes in a journal I’m bringin with me, and hopefully when I return home, I’ll be able to re-construct the past few days.

TGT: 1) honey cheerios for breakfast 2) chatting with Ms. Turnball and Daniel, Jennifer and Bikey 3) delicious mid-afternoon pear and cashew snack

Until next time (it’s days like today when that ending comes in handy!)


Wednesday 26-06-2013

Alice and I got to sleep in this morning – all the way to 6:40 (since on Wednesdays there are school-wide assemblies at 7:10 and thus no staff meetings at 6:55). We enjoyed a nice breakfast in our room (toast with PB and an apple from last night) and then headed to the assembly.

We knew today’s assembly would be special since it was Chris and Mike’s last assembly. Chris and Mike are the two Princeton in Africa fellows who have been here for a year now, and are heading home tomorrow. While we knew the assembly would be special, we didn’t know just how special it would be.

After some adorable student speeches showing thanks and appreciation, Chris spoke into the microphone saying, “We’re hoping that we’ve taught you quite a few things while we’ve been here.” As he said that, one of the teachers came out from the middle of the curtains doing the Harlem Shake, complete with the music blaring in the background! At the point when everyone was supposed to join in, all the MaP students got up and danced! It was priceless.

But wait, there was more! Chris and Mike announced that they had made a special “going-away slideshow.” They drew back the curtains, and there stood an assortment MaP teachings wearing crazy outfits. Underneath their suits, Chris and Mike had on “RUN GABZ” t-shirts. After some technical difficulties, the music started (Party Rock Anthem) and about six teachers, and Chris and Mike, burst into very entertaining choreography. It was the perfect way for us to both say goodbye and remember them!

I then had the first couple of blocks free in the library, and then Daniel and I had maths. Class was OK today – we were finding the area of trapeziums (that’s right, they don’t call them “trapezoids” here). The only issue was that our students kept wanting to divide the trapeziums into rectangles and triangles and find the areas of those “more comfortable” shapes separately.

During 5th period, we got to take an excursion off campus. We headed into “downtown” Gabs to pay the travel organisation that is organising our Kasane/Vic Falls trip this weekend. We got back to school, and then I actually took a little nap before lunch.

TG had asked us to put up relatively large posters of ourselves around MaP informing the students what we could help them with inside and outside of the classroom. One of the form 5 girls noticed that I had put “singing” as something I enjoy doing, and she invited me to sit in on a chorus rehearsal.

So after lunch I headed up to the music loft and did just that. For about 45 minutes, the group of 15 girls was practicing maybe five measures of music (granted, they were a very difficult five measures, but I was starting to have my doubt about just how good this group was).

I had to leave at 1:45, so as I left, I said “you guys sound awesome – thanks for letting me sit in on your practice!” Fifi (the MaP scholar/football player I mentioned yesterday) burst out “can we sing the whole thing for Julia?” I was honored, but doubted that the teacher conducting them would agree. He did, though, and their song started up. They were singing “Don’t you worry child,” a song that I absolutely adore. Best of all, their singing made me take back all my previous misconceptions about their vocal ability! They were AMAZING! The soloist was spectacular, and everyone joined in in perfect harmony for the chorus. I was so impressed, and promised I’d come back and listen in again next Wednesday.

After that, Jennifer and I had volunteered to lead the Cheshire Homes SPE (since the teacher that usually leads it had some sort of prior staff commitment that she had to be at). Thinking it would be along the lines of Makgasa reading (i.e. about a dozen students going to a destination about 10 minutes away) Jennifer and I were looking forward to a relatively easy task.

However, there were so many kids, we ended up having to take a full-size school bus to get there, and by the time we had switched buses, we only had about 20 minutes with the Cheshire Homes kids (which I guess is better than zero minutes with the kids!)

Cheshire Homes is a hospital/rehab center for children (and adults, I believe) with mental and physical disabilities. Almost all the children we saw today were physically disabled, but it was heartwarming to see them smile, despite all they’re going through! One of their favourite activities is being wheeled around relatively quickly around a courtyard in the middle of the rehab center. They also enjoyed playing on the playground.

One of the girls, who was wearing a pink sweater, couldn’t speak very well, but kept motioning for me to come toward her and carry her to the swings! It was the sweetest thing, and I really wish we could have spent more time at Cheshire, but the bus (and kids!) had to be back at 3:30. On the bus ride home, I had a nice chat with some younger girls, who had many questions about Harvard and how to apply to schools in America.

Once we got back to MaP, Jennifer and I made a Choppies run (I got apples, peanut butter, a little bit of milk, honey cheerios and an avocado!) It was then time for social volleyball, but we were both pretty tired out! Not wanting to leave Alice alone, we went over to the field, and shouted words of support from the sideline.

A little while later Tlotlo (the adorable form 1 boarder who is in both my profile picture and cover photo) convinced us to play football with him. Even though we were exhausted, we agreed, although I had to leave soon thereafter to shower.

Then, Daniel and I lesson-planned for tomorrow. About ten minutes into our lesson planning, the power went out! The rest of lesson planning and dinner happened in the dark (never a dull moment at MaP!) After dinner, I went home and had some delicious cheerios. The honey cheerios here are something that I didn’t realise how much I missed until it was gone (because of my illness last week, I didn’t go food shopping, so I’ve been cheerio-less for quite some time now!) Nothing quite beats milk and cheerios in the glow of a headlamp!

TGT: 1) the delicious honey cheerios (seriously, though) 2) playing with the kids at Cheshire homes today 3) being invited to, and subsequently hearing, the MaP’s amazing a capella group

Until next time,

Tuesday 25-06-2013

Up at 5:50 again this morning, because it was my day for breakfast duty. It’s funny how yesterday’s mishaps made me so grateful for the littlest things today – namely eating without a fire alarm blaring in the background and with lights/electricity. There were scrambled eggs (and bananas!) for breakfast, and I made a nice egg and toast sandwich.

After a brief school-wide assembly, I was off to maths first block. Today’s class did end up going much better than yesterday’s class. Part of it is that we’re now doing a much easier, more straightforward topic (finding areas), but the other part is that we gave the kids more time to do more practice problems.

Daniel and I also tried to really have more fun with the kids. We even briefly told them about our “whacky” measuring system – when we asked them how many inches they thought were in a foot, they all yelled out “10” (If only it were so simple!) Later, when I was walking around helping kids individually, one of the students asked me “so, how do you find your shoe size based on the foot?” I really wish I had an answer for him!

After that, I had a library free and then it was time for tea and sandwich break. Today the sandwiches were organised by type, so I could easily avoid the egg ones, and head straight for the PB and jelly ones.

Then we had a very brief “discussion” (really Q+A) with the upper, and then lower form 6-ers. Afterwards, Daniel and I lesson-planned for tomorrow, making sure to keep the “teaching to individual classwork” ratio the same as it was today.

During last period, I met with Ingrid (my MaP scholar mentee) and we talked a lot about general college minutia – who is going to write her recommendation, what essay(s) she will start writing over the long weekend, how to narrow down her 37-school college list, etc.

Ingrid is very apprehensive about studying French in America (I’m not sure if she’s been taught “France French” or “Canadian French” in Botswana, but whichever one she has been taught, it seems like The Hill in Pennsylvania uses the other dialect). She is feeling very nervous about jumping into French at The Hill, so I introduced her to Conjuguemos. Conjuguemos is a website one of my past Spanish teachers made that helps you learn conjugations of verbs in many different tenses and many different languages. Ingrid seemed very relieved to have a concrete study tool to use, especially since the textbooks she ordered won’t be here for another three weeks!

Next it was time for lunch – a very salty chicken, served alongside some very good pasta (and yet again, at MaP I’m part of the majority when I put ketchup on my pasta!) After a bit of downtime, I headed off to maths clinic at 2:15.

When I first got to maths clinic and saw that there were no form 6 students to help Jennifer and me with tutoring, I got a little nervous, but it turns out today was actually a lot of fun! I was running back and forth, working with one student on solving one-variable equations and a group of two girls doing area and volume work.

Next it was time for social football! Turns out that the girls have a scrimmage against a local private school on Thursday, so today’s practice was spent just doing a half-field scrimmage for an hour. Or so we thought. Alistair had the “starters” on one team, and eight other girls on the second team. The rest of us had to play a dribbling/running drill off to the side. I was so bummed, but, after halftime (and a little bit of nagging!) Jennifer and I were finally allowed to play in last 15 minutes of the scrimmage (although we won’t be able to play on Thursday, but hey, I’ll take what I can get!)

Soccer was fun, but I realised how weak/out of shape I am from my “illness” last week. Regardless, it just felt good to be out in the brilliant sunshine, running around for a bit. Also, Fifi (one of the MaP scholars) and her sister were both on the same team (her younger sister is probably the best player on the whole team) and their antics reminded me a lot of myself and Lulu. At one point, Fifi started singing and her sister joined right in!

After a quick shower, it was time for dinner, which was actually pretty good tonight (chicken and potatoes, but I also supplemented with toast, hummus and cucumbers!)

Then the MaPterns all ended up in the staff room for quite a bit after dinner, since we were all desperate for WiFi. We spent a great deal of time talking, surging the web and laughing. I had prep duty at night, too, so after making sure everyone was in the boarding house at 9:45, it was off to bed!

TGT: 1) productive maths clinic where I felt like I was getting through to the students 2) hanging out in the staff room after dinner 3) really yummy chicken dinner (supplemented with hummus toast)

Until next time,

Monday 24-06-2013

Woke up today around 5:50, a lovely way to start off a Monday in June. When we got to breakfast, the fire alarm was going off in the dining hall – a very loud bell that didn’t beep, but rather just shrilly and continuously pierced through the cold morning air. Thinking this would stop any minute, Alice and I quickly ate breakfast, but alas, even after 15 minutes, the bell was still going. We rushed out of the dining hall, and went to the staffroom (to answer your question, it took over an hour for the fire alarm to be shut off!)

After a brief staff meeting, I headed off to the library. Daniel and I finished planning the last bit of our lesson, and made some changes to the worksheet that we’ll hand out in class later today (gettin fancy, I know!)

Soon it was time for tea and sandwich break, and there was no way that I was going to be late today! After break, Daniel and I did some more lesson finalizing, and I also did some college research for my MaP scholar mentee, Ingrid (who gave me a lovely long list of 37 colleges that I’m now sorting into “safety school” “50-50 school” and “reach school.”)

Then Daniel and I had our maths lesson. Unfortunately today’s class went pretty terribly – the kids had just gotten their tests back (and as a result, many weren’t in such a good mood). Basically, they were either sad because they had gotten a poor grade, or felt no need to pay attention in class if they had gotten a (relatively) good grade. The lesson was just a big train wreck, and both Daniel and I left class feeling pretty glum.

Soon it was time for lunch, and after lunch (and about 20 minutes of relaxing) it was off to Makgasa reading. Today I actually read with the strongest “student” I have come across in my three weeks of coming to this school. Not only was he very bright, but we were reading one-on-one, so it was much easier to keep his attention. We read a bunch of stories (such as the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks). One of the stories was written out as a play, and it was actually really fun to read one part while he read the other part. To make things even better, when I got back, TG informed me that I had another letter from Lulu waiting for me in his office!

After Makgasa, Daniel and I decided it was time to meet with Mr. Laverick (again). He was actually very good about not finding us (too) annoying, and really broke down the next unit into workable class periods. In addition, he provided us with some great stories of trips he’s taken over the years to Vic Falls and other parts of Botswana. He lives on campus with his wife, so it was nice to just walk right over and not have to worry about transportation. Between his crazy and hilarious stories and his guidance with how to tackle the next few cycles, meeting with him was just what Daniel and I needed.

Feeling (relatively) refreshed, Daniel and I headed to the staff room to start planning out tomorrow’s lesson. We’re going to be spending a lot less time at the board (and therefore we’ll be giving the kids a lot more classwork) which will hopefully retain their attention.

Then it was time for dinner, which did not look very appetizing at all tonight. Good thing I had smuggled in hummus in my jacket! I made myself a delicious hummus, cucumber and lettuce sandwich. I had toasted two pieces of bread as soon as I walked into the dining hall, and I’m glad I did because about 10 minutes into dinner, the power went out!

After dinner, we all headed home, and Alice and I spent quite a bit of time chatting in our room. It was really nice to just talk, even if it was in partial darkness!

TGT: 1) toast, hummus, lettuce and cucumber sandwich for dinner 2) chatting with Mr. Laverick and hearing his great stories 3) reading the play with the boy today at Makgasa reading

Until next time,

Sunday 23-06-2013

Woke up today around 8:10, because there was no way I was going to miss the one great breakfast of the week! And I wasn’t disappointed. I made the cooked egg into an egg sandwich between two pieces of toast, and it was delicious! After that I was still hungry (yay!) so I had some dry cornflakes, which were also really good.

After breakfast, Jennifer, Alice, Grace and I literally stood in the sunshine, just talking for a bit. We got a few strange looks from students, but we didn’t care – the sun was delightfully warm and it was nice to be outside.

After that, I went and used the internet for a bit. Then I went back to my room and did some reading, and also played some card games on my computer (I finally discovered where the card games are, which are separate from the other games that come “built into” this computer).

By then it was time for lunch, and for the first time in a while, I got a “normal” lunch – chicken and potato wedges (French fry-like things). After lunch, Alice and I moved a bench on campus into the sunshine and then read in the sun. It felt really nice to be in the warm sunshine, and it is literally a ten-degree difference between standing in the sunshine and standing in the shade.

Daniel and I then lesson-planned for tomorrow’s class. We aren’t teaching any new material – we’re just going over the test, paying special attention to addition and subtraction (yes, this sounds silly, but a lot of our students, when using elimination, will only subtract the variables that cancel, and then add the other variables and the number).

I then had tutoring with Gape (pronounced Happy), one of the boarders who is interested in learning Spanish. She told me, a few weeks ago, that she wanted to learn Spanish, but that she had had no prior Spanish classes/lessons. Thinking nothing of it, I somewhat brushed her request for general Spanish help aside. But then a few days ago, she came up to me again in the caf and said she really did want help! I felt so bad, and made her a worksheet with some basic expressions (such as “hello” “how are you?” and “my name is”).

Anyway, by today she had finished said worksheet, and I spent a good half-hour going over it with her. First of all, she is an incredibly brilliant girl, so a lot of this came easily to her. That being said, learning Spanish, with a knowledge of Setswana and English, is so challenging! When I was tutoring a 7th grader in Spanish last summer, he found it very helpful when I wrote things out phonetically (so “hola” would be “oh-lah”). However, we encountered some problems today when I tried doing this with Gape. For example, when I wrote out “gustar” as “goo-star” that looked to her like “hoo-star” because here they pronounce their G’s as H’s (like in Gaborone, aka “hab-er-own-ee”)

It was a very productive 30 minutes, though, and I do think she is catching on quickly. I then stayed in the boarding house to chat with her and some of the other boarders for a bit.

Later it was time for dinner, which was “sweet cakes” (basically fried dough) and tripe (which I am not even going to describe here, but trust me, it is rather revolting). Thinking ahead, I brought down our leftover half of an avocado and some hummus, and made a delicious toast, hummus and avocado sandwich. Alice and I split one sweet cake, too, so I had a perfect dinner.

It was then time for Sunday night scrabble at Mr. Taylor’s. It was great fun playing next to the fire and eating (strawberries and grapes this time!) I even made a good contribution to the team – vendor (on a triple word score!) to make up for my prior spelling errors!

TGT: 1) hummus and avocado toasted sandwich 2) fun (and delicious) fireside scrabble 3) eggs for breakfast

Until next time,

Saturday 22-06-2013

Woke up today around 8:10, in time for a leisurely weekend breakfast. No surprise cinnamon rolls today, though, but that was OK because for some reason I still wasn’t feeling hungry. I made myself another toasted PB and J sandwich and then we headed back to the annex.

I was in charge of organizing a cab today, and I ended up calling KB (the great driver who took us back from Bull and Bush on Monday) to see if he could come pick us up at 10. He said sure, although he would do it for 40 pula. I said, perfecting my bargaining skills, that someone else could do it for 30 pula, so I’ll go call them….unless of course he’d would be able to drive us for 30 pula, and he ended up saying that that would be an OK price!

Alice, Jennifer and I then went to the staffroom to use the internet, since it was only 9:20. About 10 minutes later I get a call from KB saying he’s outside MaP’s gates waiting for us. I guess he must have heard “ten” and thought it meant ten minutes from when I called, not 10 o’clock! So we hurried back home, changed, and met him in the parking lot five minutes later.

We then got to Riverwalk, and, just like TG had told us, there was a craft fair happening outside the mall. First, however, we had some groceries and other things (including a BIG bag of cashews!) We then wandered around the craft fair (which was, in total, about 10 stalls, but many of them were selling the same crafts).

It actually worked out perfectly because Daniel and Bikey (who weren’t up at 9:30!) got KB to drive them to Riverwalk, and so Alice, Jennifer and I just hopped into his cab to head back to MaP as the boys were arriving. We got home pretty quickly, and for some reason, the shopping really seemed to tire me out.

After lunch, we watched a bunch of football games (yet again, MaP seemed to be hosting a tournament). The last game I watched was actually really fun – it was MaP against a school called Rainbow (which I believe is in South Africa). MaP ended up winning (thanks to PKs), and it was really funny watching Daniel in particular get so excited about the game (channeling his inner Momma Kizza, I guess!)

Later I was able to Skype with my mom and Lulu, and mum had some really great advice about how I should take care of myself to feel 100% ASAP. She basically said I should lay low for the rest of the weekend, which was a bummer since the interns were going out tonight, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that that was what I needed to do.

So after dinner, Alice let me use her laptop, and I was able to watch a bunch of 30 rock episodes and some of the Daily Show with John Stewart and the Colbert Report. The shows provided me with some much-needed humor and reminders of American culture!

TGT: 1) craft fair and fun shopping at the mall 2) skyping with Mum and Lulu 3) watching hilarious TV shows

Until next time,

Friday 21-06-2013: Meeting the US Ambassador to Botswana

Woke up today at 5:50 feeling much better, although still not as hungry as I would have expected, but such is life. Breakfast was a delicious toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then it was off to the staffroom for a quick meeting. But today was a cause for celebration (at least in my book) because now the days are starting to get longer hooray!

At the beginning of first block, we chatted with Mr. Laverick about how to mark our maths test. He basically said the tests were ours to grade however we wanted. I know I’ve said it before, but he is such a sassy and hilarious man, and the thing is, no one else at MaP could pull this off, yet somehow he manages to do just that (and keep his job!)

After that, Daniel and I went to the library and started grading the tests. Classic Julia kept thinking that Daniel wasn’t giving the kids enough points, and classic Daniel kept thinking I was far too generous. Turns out we were both right! We met with Laverick again and he quickly walked us through the point breakdown for all the questions.

I guess that’s the nice thing about using past IGCSE exam questions– each question tells you (both the grader and the student) how many points each part (a, b, c, etc.) is worth. So, for example, when a simultaneous equation problem was worth four points, Laverick said we should give a point for finding x correctly, a point for finding y correctly, a point for a correct x answer and a point for a correct y answer. I then suggested that we go through the test problem by problem (i.e. grade everyone’s problem #1 first, then grade everyone’s problem #2, etc.) instead of grading one person’s test all the way through, and this, too, turned out to make things a lot easier.

Our class, as a “classic” core-level class, was all over the place in terms of grades (i.e. there was a 5/27 and a 21/27, and remember this is only a class of nine kids!) We’ll hand the tests back and go over them on Monday.
Daniel and I were actually so caught up in maths test grading that we missed the bell for the start of tea and sandwich break (and, by now you all should know that 100%-healthy-Julia would never miss the start of sandwich break!) By the time we got to the staff room, many of the “good” (i.e. non-egg salad) sandwiches were gone. I remembered that I had seen many kids in the cafeteria during the break, so I decided to be adventurous and check out the scene myself.
I was so glad I did! Inside the caf, I found bread, butter, PB and jelly! I was in heaven. I made myself my millionth PB and J of the trip, and triumphantly took it back to the staff room (where I could enjoy it in a less crowded space!) Everyone was super excited (well, about half as excited as I was, but still excited nonetheless) to see that I had discovered a place to make a PB and J should the staff room ever run out again!

After that, I had a couple of free blocks, so I was able to check email in the library. We (the interns) then talked to the middle 6 students in the AV centre. These are a group of government-sponsored kids who are in-between their lower 6 and middle 6 years in school (so basically seniors in High School). They are some of the smartest teens in the country, and they come to MaP because the Batswana government pays for their tuition, room and board. We were talking to them about the SATs, applying to colleges in America and other random questions they had.

After lunch (which included these adorable little bananas that were super delicious) I headed back to the annex to chill for a bit. Alice decided to go for a run, and I took a long shower (it was so long because a lot of laundry had to get done!)

At 4:30, we met at MaP’s main gate to be taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Gaborone. Her husband (yes, the ambassador is a woman, and Alice and I took great delight in realizing that the husband was doing a lot of the “secretarial” work such as arranging when to meet us, and how to pick us up, etc.) was waiting in a range rover to drive us to their house.

It was nice to be in a somewhat normal seeming car and not a taxi for once. The residency was about a ten minute drive from the school. One minute we were on the main road, then we turned off, turned right and there was an American flag, a gate with a security guard, and very official writing saying, “Residence of the US Ambassador to Botswana.”

The whole experience was so cool. Former President Masire’s house was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but this house was absolutely spectacular. Fine China and large, modern artwork lined the walls. The inside of the house was lovely with lots of dark wood everywhere, but the outside was even more beautiful.

They had a pool, lots of tropical-looking plants, a huge patio with a roof over it, and a separate enclosure further off in the distance. We were told to make ourselves at home on the numerous large couches outside, and they then offered us delicious food and drink. It was funny, though, since everywhere we’ve been in public we’ve been offered alcohol, but technically the residence of the ambassador is US soil, so we were back to being underage again! The food was amazing, especially the blueberry muffins!

After a bit of chatting with David, the ambassador’s husband, their four-year old daughter came out. She was adorable and looked just like one of my past campers! She kept playing hide and seek and giving us all little presents (flowers she had picked from the nearby bushes!) After a bit of talking, we realized that we were on the same game drive in Mokolodi on Saturday as the ambassador and her family (and it’s funny, because I remember noting on the game drive that one of the kids sitting in front of us had looked like this past camper of mine!)

Then the ambassador came out. We all, somewhat uncomfortably, since we weren’t really sure of the proper protocol, stood up to greet her, but she assured us that that was unnecessary! She was dressed in gorgeous clothing (including heels), especially for a Friday around 5pm, but I guess that’s part of the job description!

Michelle Gavin (the ambassador) talked a lot about how there isn’t one “typical” day in the embassy, how lucky she feels to be working in a stable African nation (and how a lot of her colleagues cannot say the same about their nations!) Michelle and David told us that it was actually great raising two young children here, since they have a chef, nanny, and security (both security guards, and a larger sense of security, i.e. that their children will be safe growing up here).

Michelle and her husband David seemed like the power couple of the century. For starters, they met as Rhodes scholars. After their time in England, she worked in Washington D.C. for a bit, while he was in the Navy. Now she is the ambassador while he is managing hedge funds in NYC (their term is coming to an end soon, and they’ll all move to NYC after their time in Gabs is up).
All in all, it was an amazing trip – we have the Harvard IOP (Institute Of Politics) to thank, since they are the ones that put Daniel in contact with David (Michelle’s husband, who is a Harvard alum).

As David was driving us back, we realized that it was past 6pm, meaning we had missed dinner. It was, however, only 6:20, so Jennifer and I literally ran to the dining hall, and sure enough, they were just starting to put dinner away! I was actually so excited (since we were saving a lot of money by not having to go out somewhere to eat!) We quickly made PB and J sandwiches and then went back to the annex to eat.

For the rest of the night, the interns then kinda just hung around in the annex. I didn’t mind this, since I’m still not feeling 100%, but some of the others seemed to be a little antsy. It was nice having a mellow evening after such a whirlwind day.

TGT: 1) meeting the ambassador, her family, and seeing their amazing house 2) getting home in time for dinner 3) discovering the bread and PB available in the caf during the 9am break

Until next time,