Samantha Bruffy traveled to Botswana, Africa to study public health at the University of Botswana. While there, she took three courses, two of which discussed the healthcare system and specific issues found in Botswana. The third introduced the national language of Setswana. In addition to her coursework, Samantha observed and assisted in public clinics located around the capital Gaborone and a village called Kanye. This allowed her to compare how healthcare is administered in urban and rural settings. This, along with visiting a public and a private hospital, and Botswana’s only psychiatric hospital provided Samantha with a broad understanding of the healthcare system of Botswana. The experience also helped her to make a comparison between the Batswana and the American healthcare systems. Throughout the seven weeks Samantha was there, Botswana became a second home to her. She lived with a host family that consisted of a single mother and three children. Samantha enjoyed spending time with her new family and participating in cultural activities like making phaphathas, milking goats, and attending traditional weddings. Also, she became accustomed to using public transportation, eating the local cuisine, and handwashing her clothes every weekend. Samantha fell in love with the clear blue skies, the roaming hills, and the diverse wildlife that encompasses Botswana. While there, she was able to visit several nature sites such as Chobe National Park, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Khama Rhino Sanctuary, and Victoria Falls. Due to the Vira I. Heinz Program for providing this opportunity, Samantha has a newfound independence, along with improved leadership skills and a great love for travel. Samantha departed from Botswana with a better understanding of herself and her world. She is patiently waiting to return.
CEE Title: Myth Busters: Cracking the Cultural Code
Our CEE, Myth Busters: Cracking the Cultural Code, was a night full of cultural appreciation. Each cohort member chose a prevalent stereotype about their study abroad country and used that stereotype to highlight the many amazing things each country has to offer. Upon arrival to the event, participants were given a flag card that represented the flag of the country they would be “visiting” first. Then after a fifteen-minute discussion at one country, the participants “traveled around the world” to learn about prostitution and drug use in the Netherlands, India’s education system, women’s rights in Morocco, politics beyond the princess in England, and finally the uniqueness of Botswana. At each station, the current beliefs of the participants about each country were challenged through critical thinking questions. Then, each cohort member discussed the stereotype, exposing the truths from the lies. In some form, the stereotype of each country was related back to the pertinent issues faced in either Green County, or the United States. This was an important feature of our CEE because it highlighted very local problems that affect our participants daily. Participants were challenged to become critical assumers of information, as they learned that the truth is not always reported. Also, the participants were encouraged to form their own perceptions of different countries by traveling to these countries and experiencing first hand a different culture. At the end, any remaining questions were answered, and light refreshments representing different food and drinks from our respective countries was served.