Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where in the world is Dr. Phelan? Botswana!

Remember the game, “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”  That was one of my favorite games as a child, which should have been a forewarning to my parents that I would end up a world traveler with a passport bulging at the seams with stamps and visas.  For anyone unfamiliar with “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” the aim is to follow the infamous criminal, Carmen Sandiego, and her gang of villains to different countries where they have stolen a famous landmark (like the Statue of Liberty) and ultimately arrest her.  Those of us who grew up in the 80s idolizing the spy-culture liked the game for that reason, and were blissfully oblivious to the knowledge of geography we obtained in the process.  In honor of the game (and the title of my first blog post), and the many emails, texts, phone calls and Facebook messages I’ve received asking where I’m moving, I wanted to take this opportunity to give everyone the chance to find out a little bit about my new home for the next year.

I am moving to Botswana, which is in Southern Africa.  Botswana is the country bordering South Africa immediately to the north.  Here it is:

Botswana is a former British colony, so they do speak English.  Their national language is Setswana, which I am desperately trying to learn. Leina la me ke Kelly.  Are you impressed yet?  Setswana is everyone’s first language, but they begin learning English in fifth grade, so English is spoken widely.

While I am in Botswana I will be living in Gaborone (pronounced Hhha-bo-ro-nay), which is the capital city.  However, in terms of capital cities, it is on the small side.  Only about 230,000 people live in the capital, and there are only about 2 million people in the entire country, which is the size of Texas when measured according to land mass.  Of course, about 70% of that land is nothing but dessert.
During my year in Botswana I will be teaching at the University of Botswana in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management as a Fulbright Scholar.  Botswana has a strong tourism industry, due mainly to the fact the country is home to the “Big Five.” The “Big Five” is used to describe the big five animals of Africa: the elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.  The term used to be “Big Five Game” because it describes the five animals most difficult to hunt on foot, but now that hunting is widely outlawed in favor of animal conservation and protection, the safari operators use “Big Five” for marketing purposes.
I don’t know if Carmen Sandiego has ever been to Gaborone, stolen some elephants, and been pursued by the Botswana Defense Force, but if she stops by sometime in the next 12 months I will definitely let you know.


  1. Welcome to Bots! Hope you learn a lot and contribute a lot.

  2. Great introduction and overview of your next year! We'll be looking forward to hearing about the further adventures of "Where in the World is Dr. Phelan?"...

  3. Awesome!!!! Love the title of your blog. Can't wait to hear more.