Guest Blog: “My trip to Botswana.”
Every year, Commonwealth Games Wales partners with University of South Wales to offer students the chance to take on a one year student placement. Every intern plays a key role within our organisation. Learning about Welsh sport and culture; developing organisational, interpersonal and key life skills; an opportunity to be creative and being a vital role in our major events – Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and the Queens Baton Relay.
Megan worked with us during 2018/2019 as part of her Commonwealth Games Federation internship, and was lucky enough to visit Botswana for 5 days training with other Interns from Europe and Africa (…we were quite jealous, too!). Read all about her amazing journey below:
"I’ve always dreamed of visiting Africa, but I never thought I’d be lucky enough to visit AND say I’ve done it whilst working for the Commonwealth Games!
Throughout my internship I had been working closely with Team England’s own intern, Hollie. We’d really hit it off and it was great to find out she’d be coming to Botswana with me. It was a long way from home and I’m glad I was able to travel with someone I’d really got on well with during my internship. Our 12-hour flight seemed a bit more manageable now my Commonwealth-bestie was with me!
We landed in Johannesburg and then took a quick 30-minute flight to Botswana; – finally, we’d arrived! So, why exactly had Hollie and I come to Botswana?
As part of our internship, we got to meet a number of Commonwealth Games interns from all across the world; – there were interns from Zambia, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and even a little closer to home – Northern Ireland. We shared details of projects we were working on for our country, challenges we’d overcome, things we’d learnt, and most importantly; we got to listen to and learn about what everybody else was doing, too. It allowed us to share ideas and take back new ideas to our Commonwealth Association.
That evening, everyone got together to play a game of Action Cricket. I may have been working for a sport organisation, but my sporting ability is limited to say the least! Our team didn’t win but we all had so much fun and everybody enjoyed themselves, which was definitely the most important part. After our game, we all sat and enjoyed some wine and pizza – the dream!
After a delicious breakfast we headed on over to the conference centre, where we met with African interns -who had just started their internship with Commonwealth Games. We got to share our experiences with them and give them some insight into what they could expect over the next year.
A quick text from home was a reminder of how lucky I was to be in such an awesome place. The weather here was gorgeous. The views of the sunset each evening? Even better! And back home there was tonnes of snow on the ground -wow, what a difference!
We enjoyed dinner with the interns from the conference, who were shortly heading home. Our short but sweet meeting was amazing – to have the opportunity to meet so many people; from completely different backgrounds and learn about their cultures. We all shared numbers and emails to keep in contact with one another, which I really appreciated, and think is lovely.
The following day I joined Team England and Team Northern Ireland, where I got to share my exciting new project with the rest of the group.
When I first started my internship in September, Commonwealth Games Wales shared their ambition of working with young people, to not only inspire future athletes, but to be a strong support network for youth athletes who were all new to the process. Any new adventure can be daunting, so anything we could do to help was a top priority for Team Wales.
Working with my fellow Team Wales interns, we thought we would help young athletes (between ages 14-18) become pen-pals with one another to develop friendships ahead of the Games. Being so young and travelling to a new country (and most of the time, without your family by your side) can be really scary. Putting each other in conversation means we could help spark new friendships, ensure there was a familiar face around before arriving at an unfamiliar country, and try to minimalize any worries they may have before their travels begin*.
*Since my trip to Botswana, it was announced that the 2021 Youth Games would be held in Trinidad and Tobago, so it’s really encouraging to know our efforts will be going in to help the number of young athletes selected to compete in the Games make acquaintance and feel comfortable about their journey ahead.
After sharing our ideas with each other, we travelled to Mokolodi Game Reserve. As we pulled up to the entrance, I instantly fell in love -the views! Truly breath-taking. We watched the sunset before enjoying dinner together once again for another evening.
A 4:30am wake up call…
Most people would set an alarm on their phone or alarm clock to ensure they woke up on time. We didn’t have to -because we were awoken with baboons knocking on the doors and swinging from the windows! It was definitely a first (but I absolutely loved it!)
On our way to the conference centre for that day, we spotted some hippo’s living in the water amongst our accommodation, and even a giraffe feeding from the trees! Wow -it certainly wasn’t my average morning commute, but I suppose nothing ‘average’ had happened since we arrived in Mokolodi!
The views from Mokolodi were the best I’ve ever seen. I sat and admired the views for so long just trying to get my head around the fact I was actually here. As our group had finished off all our work for the day, we took advantage of our surroundings and had our very own photoshoot, of course!
Our final day involved reflections with each other on the internship programme. We were all in agreement that the Commonwealth Games had given us the most unbelievable opportunity, and were very grateful we got to spend the last few days in such a beautiful place.
We spent the afternoon on a Game drive -spotting Zebra, Giraffes, Wildebeest, Impala, Ostrich and Warthogs, and then enjoying a BBQ dinner whilst watching another incredible sunset.
We all sat around the campfire after dinner, talking about our experience in Botswana, listening to each other’s stories and talking about the Games.
Day 6 -Home time!
Our wake-up call this morning surprisingly wasn’t any baboons, but the most AMAZING thunderstorm! I’ve loved listening to thunder and lightning since I was a kid, so to witness such an almighty storm was truly incredible! The flashes of light, the rumbles… wow!
It was bitter-sweet leaving the Game Reserve. We were sad to be leaving, but also excited to go home and see our friends and family. We said our final goodbyes and parted ways before catching our flight home.
I am forever grateful to Team Wales and Commonwealth Games for giving me such an amazing opportunity; to visit Africa, make new friends, and memories that will last a lifetime. I just wish I could see the beautiful views from Botswana, once more!
Until next time, Africa.
If you'd like to know more information on our internship opportunities and apply for a role, please contact Cathy Williams on email@example.com