Notes from the Field
In December of 2005 I was chosen as one of twenty Canadian students to attend the World University Service of Canada?s (WUSC) six-week International Seminar to Botswana in May and June of this year. This year?s seminar was focused on HIV/AIDS and Youth issues.
During the six-week stay in Botswana I had the opportunity to explore the country and the culture and to learn more about how HIV/AIDS is affecting the country. We had the chance to learn about the programs and strategies that different organizations in Botswana are using to combat AIDS. As a group we participated in a three-day cultural walk which allowed us not only to interact with the people from the northern part of the country but gave us a chance to see how people have adapted to their environment.
I also participated in a two week internship with a local organization called Youth Health Organization (YOHO), which is an organization that promotes sexually healthy young people, to contribute to the reduction of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and teenage pregnancy among youth in Botswana. I worked with the organization to produce two short plays dealing with gender issues and indirectly with HIV/AIDS. We performed the plays at schools around the capitol, Gaborone. This was one of the most memorable experiences, as I actually had the chance to go out into the community and participate in raising awareness.
This trip was an experience of a lifetime. It has completely changed my goals and outlook on life. While I was in Botswana I realized that the best people to deal with the AIDS problem in Africa are Africans themselves. They know their own culture and can judge what will work best for them I terms of approaches and programs to fight the pandemic, not a Canadian who does not intimately understand the workings of a country?s culture. I have decided to focus on raising awareness about AIDS within Canada. If we do not start talking about AIDS as our problem and take action in our own country, then this disease could, without us noticing, sweep through Canada, just as it has Botswana.