Yesterday the whole group had a pizza dinner (DELICIOUS) with all the MaP/Catlin Grads. We had a fun time reuniting with Kush, MK and Mmaserame and also had an interesting discussion together. Looking to next year when the next Map student, Tapiwa, will come to Catlin, we asked them what they wished that the Catlin community knew about them before they arrived. Their answers were interesting and also shocking to many of us. The main theme was that they wished people would have at least taken the time to Google Botswana, considering that we have a longstanding relationship with the MaP school and get a student from them every year. MK, Mmaserame, and Kush told us they had been asked questions such as, “Are those your first pair of shoes? Did you buy them at the airport?,” “Do you ride elephants to school?” and “Was it dangerous to walk to school because of the animals?” (walk, not drive, because of course their aren’t cars in Botswana). Our whole group was surprised that the usually so educated Catlin community had so little knowledge of Botswana. Being asked these questions made MK, Mmaserame and Kush feel offended that no one took enough interest in them to even Google Botswana, a peaceful, prosperous, country they are all proud to come from. Jahncie and I were shocked by the ignorance of the community. It reinforces an already somewhat recognized phenomenon: the Catlin bubble. Sometimes the Catlin community can be so wrapped up in itself that it assimilates or ignores new members of the community until they turn into typical Catlin students, rather than celebrating their differences and trying to learn as much as we can. Moving forward, we have decided to have an assembly about Botswana early in the year to give the new student a chance to tell us what she wants us to know about herself and to educate the community as a whole about Botswana and MaP, a school we have a relationship with and should know more about. We look forward to many more years with the MaP school, and hope to do more in the future to make the MaP students feel welcome.
Ella and Jahncizzle