Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Very Busy Few Months Ahead

One of the interesting aspects of being a Fulbrighter is that you are given a lot of freedom.  As long as you are fulfilling your obligations to your host institution it is up to you how you spend the rest of your time.  There are no hard and fast rules in terms of what you are expected to accomplish, which is a good thing as red-tape and politics can make some objectives much more difficult than others.
Last year before I came to Botswana I contacted another Fulbright Scholar.  I asked about the process you had to go through in order to get permission to do research.  She informed me it was much more arduous than in the U.S. and that while she had applied for a research permit in August it wasn’t granted until May.  She left in June.

Fortunately for me I didn’t have nearly as difficult of a time obtaining my permit and IRB approval to conduct my research.  But a lot of that is pure luck; catching the right person who actually knows the answer to your question on a day when they are happy and willing to help you. 

Over the past seven months I have been busy teaching, doing research and travelling.  Most of my travel has been work related for data collection or serving as a guest speaker at other universities, though some of it has been for fun as well.  Since I arrived back from Christmas I’ve had several tourism colleagues throughout the continent invite me to visit them at their universities to guest lecture for a few days.  In order to juggle all the requests, along with other side trips I wanted to take before I left I decided to sit down and plan out the next six months.  Thank goodness I did otherwise I would have never been able to squeeze in another commitment.  This is my calendar for the next six months.  All of the shaded blocks are when I am travelling:
To give you a rundown here is what is on my calendar:

Tomorrow: Head to Cape Town, South Africa for three days to teach at Stellenbosch University.
March: Johannesburg for three days to obtain my DRC visa and visit a colleague at Vaal University with whom I am writing an article.  Then on to Lesotho to visit some of our students currently there on internship.  From Lesotho, go to Mozambique to meet a fellow Fulbrighter for some fun. (This trip takes place during our mid-semester break.)
First week of April: Zanzibar, Tanzania to meet an Egyptian friend who lives in Nairobi, Kenya to hang out on the beach for a long weekend.
Middle-Late April: Fly to Kigali, Rwanda to teach at the Rwanda Tourism University College.  From there head to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo to teach at University of Goma and then climb the volcano over the weekend.  On the way home stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for three days to give Ethiopia a chance to redeem itself after the luggage fiasco.
May: Amanda and Ashleigh come to visit me in Botswana!  Finally, I get to play host to friends from home.
June: Back to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Then Dad comes to visit for 10 days and I get to show him around Botswana.  The day Dad departs I go to Mauritius where I am presenting two papers at a conference.
July: Perhaps return to the U.S.? 

I would have to say if nothing else I have certainly taken full advantage of my time here.  And I think Fulbright has also gotten its money’s worth. I may have to give my passport a rest whenever I finally make it back across the ocean.