A delegation from the African nation of Botswana visited Ohio University early last week, as a followup of an increasingly strengthened educational partnership highlighted by frequent exchanges of visits in recent years.
These have included former Botswana President Festus Mogae's visit in September 2010, Botswana ambassador to the United States Tebelelo Mazile Seretse's visit in November 2011, and two OU delegations' visit to Botswana in early 2012.
The delegation of six, led by Grace Muzila, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development of Botswana, arrived at OU on Sunday, Jan 12. Their busy schedule included attending the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebratory brunch, and meetings with OU President Roderick McDavis, the vice provost for Global Affairs, and students and staff involved in OU's Global Health program, Cutler Scholars Program and the colleges of Business and Education. They also visited the OU Innovation Center, and Muzila gave a speech Wednesday on future developments in Botswana.
"During this visit, we talked a lot about specific projects that we will work on together," said Labane E. Mokgosi, director of International Marketing and Business Development and ministry for the Botswana Education Hub. "You know when you sit down and talk face-to-face, it's easier to communicate, and people can certainly discuss a lot more than talking on telephone. We definitely brought more to the picture."
Mokgosi also suggested that Botswana's political and economic stability is a great advantage for building friendly partnerships. "People would like to come to Botswana to build partnership with us without being scared that they would be shot," Mokgosi said.
The delegation also met with African students studying at OU, including five students from Botswana.
Keikotlhae Koodibetse is a master's student from Botswana who is currently on a Fulbright Scholarship at OU in the International Development Studies Program.
"IDS is a comprehensive program with various areas of concentration, some include environment, health and gender," said Koodibetse, who came to OU last August. "All the areas of concentration are important to the lives of the people, no matter where they are in the world. It is quite an interesting program because it brings people from different countries together, who learn from each other, are willing to take part in improving the lives of the people."
In early February a delegation from OU is traveling to Botswana; it will include groups from OU's College of Business, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, and the medical school.
"This delegation is to prepare for students who are going to Botswana this year," said Beatrice Selotlegeng, assistant director of diversity and outreach in the College of Business.
This May, June and July, the colleges of Business, Health Sciences and Professions, and Education will send groups of students to Botswana one after another to work with local students.
"For students, it's applied learning and cultural immersion in addition to working on programs," said Selotlegeng, who originally came to the United States from Botswana. "The main reason of the partnership is to make sure it's for the most benefit of faculty and students."