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