As a public health student, I have been lucky enough to observe doctors and nurses in health clinics in Botswana. On a weeklong village excursion, I packed my bags and set off to Kanye. My stay in Kanye wa a bit strange. Here, I was an African-American student studying in Gaborone now living in Kanye for the week. Whoa. Botswana continued to amaze me, especially with the move from city to village.
Even though Kanye is classified as a village, people’s way of life was not very different from the city. My experience in a village challenged my views. Kanye is a large village offering many things that could be at found at home and in Gaborone.
Inside the clinic, the doctors and nurses moved to the beat of the village, slower but effective. They greeted the patients and spent more time with them than in the city. Even though lines were long, people didn’t seem to mind. The rush and the constant need to move to the best thing was absent in village life. Greeting and small talk was necessary and valued. That week, I learned a lot of new things. I even got to witness a baby’s first few minutes of life!
Kanye and most of all my experiences in Botswana and throughout southern Africa have been remarkable. My time in southern Africa has been short but sweet. Coming back to Africa has changed me in ways I never thought possible. In the past, in school, we learned about only all the bad things that were happening on the African continent. It made me feel uncomfortable. From a young age, the other part to the story seem to be missing. In my classes we never talked about the good things that happening every day through Africa.
Somehow, study abroad has filled in some of the missing parts, the good parts. I feel a bit at ease, knowing that incredible things are coming out of Botswana, southern Africa and throughout the whole continent. By looking through a different lens and for all the parts to stories, we can change the way we view things. Next time you see or hear about only bad parts of story about Africa, I want you to ask questions and find out for yourself. That’s what I am going to do.
Here are a few things I have been able to do:
1) Learn from the real life experience with the world as my textbook
2) Survive studying abroad
3) See public health in action
4) Live in a new country on my own
5) Bungee off the Victoria Falls Bridge and into the Zambia river
6) Learn to budget
7) Visit and travel to five countries in the southern Africa region
8) Be pushed out of my comfort zone daily and coming out on top
9) Make great friends and connections with a wonderful diverse group of people
10) Understand a little more about the world we live in
I don’t know what the criteria is for being a grown-up, when I get there I hope to be working in a job that excites me and motivates me to help people, in the field of public health. I want to continue to learn more about the world and the people in it. I want to travel to many more countries and experience cultures different than my own.
For the all the students sitting in classrooms dreaming, I want you to know that one day, you can make those dreams come true. Living abroad is not impossible. Work hard. Don’t let people tell you that you’re “just a dreamer” because even dreamers can make it.