Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Botswana

It is difficult to imagine that 7,000 miles away, in a country filled with deserts and plagued by disease, a school in Gaborone, Botswana could have anything in common with St. Luke’s. But that is exactly the myth that English teacher, Mr. Henson, has shattered during his teaching exchange at Maru-A-Pula.

In his exchange, Mr. Henson found students in Botswana are similar to American students in a number of respects, ranging from affinities for Shakespeare to unyielding interests in March Madness. But the facts- that the country has one of the highest HIV rates in the world and that 28 out of the total 600 students remain orphaned- exemplify the many vast and inescapable cultural differences. These devastating circumstances create challenges for many schools, but Maru-A-Pula is making tremendous strides in education for Botswanian students by preparing them for a lifetime of success and service.
Maru-A-Pula (MAP) is not only considered a premier academic institution in Botswana, but in the global community as well, as it advocates academic excellence, community service and virtues such as respect, much like St. Luke’s. Mr. Henson’s role in this thriving community is teaching English to one Form 1 class (equivalent to 7th grade) and two Form 2 classes (8th grade).

At MAP the English curriculum is similar to ours but with much more emphasis on grammar, penmanship and structure in the lower forms. Later, the focus shifts towards analytical skills and comprehension of universally esteemed works.

While Mr. Henson has found similarities in MAP’s academic curriculum, it is in the school’s dedication to service and the improvement of society where the most inspiration can be drawn. At Maru-A-Pula the school day ends with two hours of community service in areas varying from working at food distribution centers to teaching at primary education centers with students ages 7 to 50. Along with service on a larger scale, MAP also works to help its own community through providing housing and scholarships to students who are orphaned or otherwise could not afford tuition, ensuring that everyone has an equal chance for a meaningful future. This is groundbreaking and incredibly different from many other private schools in Africa that have a predominantly non-African student body.

As Mr. Henson prepares for his return, he finds himself “awash with many ideas and possibilities for learning from MAP, and for joining our students in common areas.” His experience is one that demonstrates to our community at St. Luke’s the magnitude of our mission statement, and shows us that anywhere in the world, by anyone, a difference can be made if they “Enter to Learn” and ‘Go Forth to Serve.”

View Mr. Henson’s Blog posts during his trip visit here.  For more information on Maru-A-Pula check out the school’s website here.

 

-Melanie Bow, Staff Writer 

Posted by on March 29, 2012. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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