Tibao Lesole is at Colorado Mesa University for one semester from Botswana, a small country in Southern Africa. Lesole is a mass communications major hoping to work for the United Nations after she graduates. She plans to use her vast media skills and knowledge to help women and children break out of their stereotypes.
Lesole was brought to CMU as part of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). After Lesole was chosen to participate in the program, she was given a choice of five different schools that she could attend. Lesole picked CMU as her first choice. In January of 2017, Lesole left Botswana, where she had lived her whole life, and boarded a plan to come to the U.S.
When she arrived, she was greeted by her first experience with snow. Having lived in Africa her whole life, she had never seen snow and thought that it was amazing. In Colorado, she was able to touch snow and go skiing. She thinks that all the nature surrounding the town of Grand Junction is beautiful and loves exploring it as much as she can.
When asked about the differences from Botswana to Grand Junction, there seemed to be many, one of which is the food.
“We have meat, not just chicken tenders. We have meat with bones,” Lesole said.
Although she does miss the meat, she has discovered a love for Chinese food, which she had never tried before coming here. Another difference is her daily schedule. She explained that she usually doesn’t go to bed until four in the morning here because she is studying.
“Here I study more, back home I don’t study as much. School is less monitored there so it is up to you if you don’t study. Here the lectures are more engaging,” Lesole said.
She enjoys the smaller class sizes at CMU, and the fact that the professors know the names of their students and are so willing to help. She was also surprised to see how people here are so wrapped up in their electronics, always staring at a screen in front of them.
“Back home you can get a full conversation with all the people on a bus and it will be the best experience of your life. It can happen in any bus anywhere and anyone can just start talking about any topic. It’s just so fun. I miss it,” Lesole said.
Passionate and driven, Lesole derives inspiration from three strong women: Bogolo Kenewendo, a 29-year-old Botswana woman who is a member of parliament, the youngest to date; Margaret Nasha, the first women National Assembly speaker, a position that she held from 2009-2014; and her mother.
“My country is trying very hard to make life easier for people because they’ve been there,” said Lesole. “They know how it feels to not have water and electricity.” In Botswana, water and electricity are extremely inexpensive so that people do not have to go without them.
Lesole is part of a tribe in Africa, the Nkalanga, and is fluent in their language, Ikalanga, as well as English. She has traveled to Australia and is hoping to see more of the world in the future. Canada, Tanzania and Kenya are on her bucket list. Lesole came here wanting to do everything she had never done before and making the most of this experience. While she feels like Grand Junction is a totally different world from what she knows, she is enjoying every minute of her time here and is learning all that she can.