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,
~JK

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One thought on “Friday 21-06-2013: Meeting the US Ambassador to Botswana

  1. Woah! You’re meeting so many cool people!! And I’m glad to read that you’re feeling better (and that you’re eating more hehehe!) 🙂 I miss you!!

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