By Chris Mazza:
I am approximately 40 days into my African adventure, and my list of experiences continues to grow! When I concluded my last post, I made note of a special celebration set to occur for the celebration of Botswana’s 50th anniversary of independence. Well, this was quite the weekend in the country’s capital, with its streets, buildings, animals and residents all sporting the national colours (white, black, and light blue). Between fireworks at the national stadium and experiencing the incredible pride among the population, it seemed as if the entire country participated in the festivities! Throughout the weekend, the excitement continued to grow for me personally, as I was given the amazing opportunity to meet Earl Miller, the U.S. Ambassador in Botswana. Ambassador Miller hosted a celebratory gathering, which included the likes of many significant leadership figures in the country. I was honoured to be invited, and look forward to continued communication with the Ambassador.
At work, we have officially begun practical preparations for the learn-to-swim project, which is set to commence next Friday. Our volunteer coaches proved their dedication to athlete development in the country, as they spent this past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday learning about effective coaching techniques, as well as proper first aid and CPR practices. We have engaged participants aged 3-6 from the SOS Children’s Village and the YWCA in the learn-to-swim project, and after meeting a few of these eager young athletes, I cannot wait to begin the lessons! The plan is for each child to receive one lesson per week over a six-week timeframe, which will conclude with a wrap-up funday, where everyone involved with the development and implementation of the project will gather for food, swimming, and fun!
Additionally, once the sessions are underway I will have much more time to focus on the development of the Botswana Long Term Athlete Development (BLTAD) model for swimming. This comprehensive framework will take up the majority of my time over the next few months, and I am looking forward to collaborating with local swim clubs to help with its creation.
Of course, the braais have continued, and have even taken us to village called Mochudi, which is located about 45 minutes outside of Gaborone. This braai was hosted, surprisingly enough, by a couple Canadians working in Botswana! It was great to catch up with some fellow northerners in what was referred to as our Canadian-African Thanksgiving, and to share our experiences of adapting to life abroad.
I am in the process of rounding up a crew to make the trek up Kgale Hill with me, in the hopes that they’ll want to make it a frequent experience! I have also managed to become more accustomed to the city’s layout, visiting a few shopping malls, the local cricket club, and the houses of some new friends!
Unfortunately, we have been hit hard with some aggressive weather recently, including a storm that many of the locals have explained is the worst in quite some time. It has caused significant damage to several locations around Gabs, but I commend the city for its diligence in clean-up and repairs!
I would not be able to conclude this post without reference to the start of the NHL season, and a shout out to the New Jersey Devils, who, in addition to the time change, have admittedly caused some late nights!
Stay tuned over the coming weeks for updates on the learn-to-swim project (and pictures), in addition to the countless new experiences I will be sure to encounter!
Cheers and Salan Sentle!