By: Elizabeth Kujbida
Dumela everyone, for the final time!
It’s been a little over a month since my internship with the BNOC wrapped up, and three weeks since I’ve been back in Canada so I figured it was probably due time that I wrapped up my final blog too! The last month and a bit have been amazing, but I want to start by updating you all where we left off after Trevor’s (second) last blog. In the last update, our coaches and athletes were in their final week of the program, and Trevor and I were neck deep in tournament preparations.
Since that last update, our final week was incredibly hectic. The final week consisted of finalizing tournament aspects. We were tasked with ensuring that invitations went out to all representatives (BNOC, BVF, BISA, and BOPSSA executives, among others), finalizing t-shirt designs, approving the samples, and making sure that the final products were to be available for pick-up on time, designing and placing orders for certificates for the athletes and coaches, confirming catering, and much more. On top of all the tournament preparations, we were also in the midst of putting the final touches on both the BLTAD and the Action Plan. Needless to say, the days were a bit hectic and we had a few late nights making sure that everything was finished in enough time.
The BLTAD and Action Plan ended up great, coming out at 53 and 31 pages, respectively. Like I mentioned earlier, we ended up with a few late nights putting the final touches and finalizing the editing on both documents, but I am very happy with the final outcomes and very proud of Trevor and myself for taking on such large projects!
In other exciting news, it turned out that the captain of the team that Trevor played soccer with is the owner of a local media company that does profiles on sport in Botswana. This turned out to be an amazing opportunity to promote beach volleyball, and we had the opportunity to be interviewed in the office one day, and the team came to our beach volleyball tournament to get some footage of the action and a follow-up interview with Trevor and myself. The profile is going to be aired on Botswana TV, which is huge for the continued development and promotion of beach volleyball!
The Friday before we left the country and our last official day of work, the BNOC staff was kind enough to host a going-away lunch for Trevor and myself. They also invited Peaceful (with the BVF), and all the coaches that were part of our program. Speeches were given by some of our BNOC coworkers, Peaceful, and the coaches (and I definitely had to hold back tears at some points. What can I say; I’m emotional when it comes to goodbyes). It was so incredibly generous of everyone, and I feel so blessed to have spent four months working with such amazing people.
Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to head over to Molapo Crossing for the beach volleyball tournament! We arrived and immediately got to work setting up tents, banners, flags, the audio and PA system, chairs, and seeing to it that catering was aware of where to set up. The athletes all started arriving a little after we did, and we saw to it that they all got their shirts. At 9:00, we had a little bit of an opening ceremony and morning tea, and then it was time to get the games started! Luckily for us, there wasn’t a whole lot to be done during the games, so we got to sit back (while refereeing the lines) and watch! The games consisted of Boys and Girls 2-on-2 and Mixed 4-on-4, and an overall school winner based on points accumulated in the groups. Mogoditshane won 2/3 of the gold’s, and secured themselves the win for their school! We concluded the day with the closing ceremonies, where BNOC and BVF officials, along with Trevor and myself, gave speeches, and the certificates, medals, and trophy were all handed out. It was so great to see how much the athletes had progressed over the course of eight weeks, and I could not be more proud of all our athletes and the coaches for the hard work they put in!
The last few days in Botswana started with me picking my mom up from the airport on Sunday! From there, we got her checked into her hotel before heading over to Cedric’s house for a farewell braai where I got to introduce her to some of the people that became such a part of my daily life while here. Monday I took her around to some of my favourite spots in the city, along with heading to the office to introduce everyone!
The following day, my mom and I headed to the airport bright and early and left for Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to start our vacation around southern Africa! We spent a few days in Victoria Falls before heading to Livingstone, Zambia, and then back to Botswana for a few days of camping in Chobe National Park, and then to Cape Town, South Africa, before heading back to Gaborone to get the rest of my luggage and head back to Canada! It was absolutely amazing to get to experience more of Africa, and do some pretty exciting things such as swimming in Devil’s Pool at the top of Victoria Falls, camping in the middle of the African bush and listening to lions and hyenas all night, and cage diving in South Africa! It was an amazing vacation to cap off an amazing internship, and I am so grateful to have shared this experience with my mother!
After a long (but thankfully uncomplicated) 30-plus hour journey back to Canada, I landed (with all my luggage!) and was immediately embraced by family that couldn’t wait to hear all about my experience, and I couldn’t wait to share it with them!
I can’t say enough great things about my time in Botswana, and I can’t wait for the day that I get the opportunity to return. Until then, I want to thank Brock University, Commonwealth Games Canada, the Botswana National Olympic Committee, the Botswana Volleyball Federation, and everyone in between that helped make this dream a reality, and made my time in Botswana so rewarding.
I would also like to thank everyone that has been following Trevor and my adventures via this blog. I hope that you have gotten as much enjoyment from reading these posts as I have from writing them!