WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Botswana Delegates Visit WIU

Apr 30, 2013

A delegation from Botswana visited Macomb to celebrate new educational exchange agreements between Western Illinois Univesity and universities in Botswana.

Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse and training Attaché Mr. Barongwa Master Baipidi spoke at the W-I-U campus.

Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse of the Republic of Botswana
Credit Larry Dean - WIU - Visual Production Center

Ambassador Seretse said some Americans might need to change their expectations of what African countries are like.

“It is important that we don’t treat Africa like a country,” she said.

Ambassador Seretse stressed that Botswana is ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa and has free education, including university,  for all of it’s citizens.

She said the exchanges are meant to address what she and her delegation see as a major problem, that her country's accomplishments are unknown in the US.

“This is very worrisome to us as governors, as the rulers as the republic of Botswana,” she said.

Ambassador Sereste said the government of Botswana devised a strategy of signing agreements with “prestigious US universities” including with Western Illinois University.

The Ambassador said her country was very interested in Western's particular expertise in training law enforcement professionals.

(From Left) Attaché Barongwa Master Baipidi, WIU's Dr. Rick Carter, Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse, Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and Ms. Beatrice Selotlegeng, originally from Botswana currently at Ohio University

In addition to exchange agreements with American Universities like WIU. Western has also signed an agreement to adopt St. Joseph’s High School in Botswana.

She says teaching younger students allows their views of the world to changed more fundamentally.

Attaché Baipidi said that since Botswana remains unknown in the US, misconceptions can be rampant.

It is important that we don't treat Africa like a country

"Currently when you speak to students here about Botswana they don't know what you are talking about. I've seen in the Amazing Race, when people were to go to Botswana, elderly people they ask them at home, where is it? Is it Rwanda?" Attaché Baipidi said.

He continued, saying that having students travel to other countries and broaden their view allows them to build understanding and tolerance.

Ambassador Seretse added that "global lack of peace" is caused by a lack of tolerance. She said that international sharing causes an increase is understanding, and that "understanding automatically breeds peace."