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 ten of their favourite books to inspire reading at MaP. They advise on students’ written work, help senior students prepare compelling college essays, teach Maths classes and clinics, edit student journalism and provide SAT instruction.  Their impact on our students has been wonderful to see. 

Meet this year’s Harvard students :

Ruiqi He

Ruiqi He

Ruiqi He is a sophomore, studying Economics and Psychology. Originally from Jinan, Shandong, China, she moved to San Antonio, Texas with her family at the age of five. She is extremely excited for the opportunity to meet and mentor all of the amazing students at the Maru-a-Pula school, visit Africa for the first time, and to learn about the culture of Botswana. One of her favourite things about life is the human experience – hearing about the stories of others, meeting new people, and hanging out with friends. This summer internship experience will be a perfect fit for her interests. Her hobbies include acting, writing tunes on the guitar, and hanging out with friends; she hopes to pursue a career in entertainment (TV/Film) after college.
Read Ruiqi’s MaP experience here.

Brian Lai

Brian Lai

Brian Lai is a rising junior, studying Physics and Economics. He was born in Melrose, Massachusetts and grew up in an immigrant household, speaking English by day at school and Cantonese by night at home. Brian is passionate about learning and problem-solving. As a first-generation college student, rising from humble beginnings in pursuit of the American dream, he feels extremely grateful to all who have helped him along the way and is inspired to help others in the great chain of altruism. Brian hopes to make a positive impact on the world and humanity through business, technology, and government. You’ll find that Brian is chilled, funny, and decent at Salsa dancing. You can talk to him about anything from history to basketball and the rap game. And of course, he is so excited for the opportunity to be on the Maru-a-Pula campus, teaching, engaging with, and learning from students and the community at large!
Read Brian’s MaP experience here.

Haley Langan

Haley Langan

Haley Langan is a junior Chemistry concentrator with a secondary in African Studies.  Haley is on the women’s Varsity Rugby team and works as a drug and alcohol peer advisor.  She is excited to be at Maru-a-Pula this summer in Gaborone, Botswana because she loves working with kids and students.  She cannot wait to play sports with the students, help them with their homework, and learn about their lives this summer.  She is so glad the Center for African Studies gave her this opportunity!

Genevieve Lefevre

Genevieve Lefevre

Genevieve Lefevre is a sophomore, majoring in Theater, Dance, and Media with a minor in Sociology. She is from Boston, Massachusetts. She devotes most of her time to her acapella group called KeyChange, both singing and helping the group function as an organisation. She is also in the modern and hip-hop dance groups on campus, involved with theatrical productions, and has served as a peer counsellor.
Read Genevieve’s MaP Experience here.

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.

Sincerely,

Isaiah T. Peterson, Harvard 2012