Harvard Students at Maru-a-Pula

Every year, MaP students receive tutoring and mentorship from a group of extraordinary Harvard University undergraduates for eight weeks. This unique programme is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Harvard University’s Treasurer, Jim Rothenberg. Each of the Harvard students arrive with five of their favourite books to inspire reading at MaP. They advise on student writing; they assist with Maths classes and tutorials; they help senior students prepare compelling college essays; they edit student journalism and provide instruction in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) preparations. 

The impact of the ‘Harvards’ on our students is wonderful to see. 

Meet this year’s Harvard students :

Armeen Barghi

Armeen is a sophomore at Harvard. He was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama: home of the best college football team in America. He loves fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and biking with friends when the weather is nice. Armeen is thinking about concentrating on Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology. Other than teaching Chemistry and Biology, some of his most powerful MaP experiences included distributing food to families in Old Naledi, playing with the children and celebrating their birthdays at Childine, and preparing MaP students for standardized tests and college applications. .

Lisa Matay

Lisa is a junior at Harvard. She is currently concentrating on Economics and Global Health and Health Policies. She was born and raised in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. Lisa is passionate about development economics and efforts to integrate Africa in the journey towards economic prosperity and poverty alleviation. She found the MaP community talented and particularly liked the artistic vibes on campus. She was also happy to see MaP students serving their community.

Connor Richardson

Connor is a senior studying Integrative Biology & Psychology. He grew up in quaint Marysville, Ohio—a growing suburb of Columbus that still retains its small-town culture. Some of his interests are travelling, movie-watching, and picture-taking. Some of his favourite MaP memories are dancing in the Creative Borders production and dominating MaP students on the soccer pitch and basketball court. He’s going to miss the kindness and hospitality shown to him by everyone at Maru-a-Pula.

Stella Ituze

Stella is a sophomore studying Maths, Education and Social Innovation. Originally from Rwanda, she is fluent in English, French and Kinyarwanda. Her interests include teaching, dance and DJing. Her favourite memory at MaP was struggling to finish a dry loaf of bread on stage with her team (L-House) for the Megabowl challenge!

Excerpts from Harvard student Isaiah Peterson’s letter of thanks to Jim Rothenberg follow :

3 August, 2011

Dear Mr. Rothenberg,

Two days ago, my summer in Botswana ended, and I had to say a surprisingly difficult goodbye to the Maru-a-Pula School in Gaborone.  I am not a very sentimental person, but I have to say that it was very sad to say goodbye to all the students and teachers I had worked with the past two months.

Maru-a-Pula is an amazing place, and I want to sincerely thank you for making it possible for me to spend the summer there.  I am sure you already realize the value of investing in the Maru-a-Pula internship, but I wanted like to take a minute to articulate a little of what I think about that value….

MaP is an extremely valuable institution for Botswana because it fosters an atmosphere of rigorous academic study and because it puts a strong emphasis on community service.  I hope that the other interns and I helped to contribute to this atmosphere this summer.  One specific way I think we did contribute to this atmosphere was by emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded education. 

All of us worked one-on-one with numerous students to improve on individual writing assignments.  We read Richard III with students.  We played vocabulary games with them.  We dissected poetry with them… We strongly encouraged (forced?) students to read on their own, and then had them give us book reports on what they had read.  I can’t be sure that all these strategies were perfectly effective, but the overall response to our efforts was definitely encouraging.

I also think it is wonderful that you expanded the program this year to allow all six of us to go.  Because there were more of us, we were able to more consistently reach out to the entire school than what I believe has been done in past years.  I think this had an especially positive impact on many of the lower-form students, with whom we probably would not have been able to work very closely had there been fewer of us…. 

All this says nothing of the many ways this experience impacted me personally.  I had never left the States before coming to Botswana this summer, I cannot think of a better first international experience….Thank you for creating such an opportunity.


Isaiah T. Peterson, Harvard 2012