Skip to main content

Kayla Donnawell

SFU Co-op Student
Science › Biomedical Physiology + Kinesiology

empty
San people smiling and laughing
Credit
Danne Harp on Exploring Africa
The one thing I really came to appreciate being around the San people is the value of family. In their culture, you are always with your family.

Just got back from another fabulous weekend travelling to a new location in Botswana. I went to a small farm outside of Ghanzi in the Kalahari region of the country which was originally started as a game farm, but has taken on the role of helping to preserve the cultural traditions of the San people. Some of you may know the San people from the video, "The Gods Must be Crazy" a staple in any small town education curriculum. The people are known for their hunter/gather way of living (in the Kalahari desert no less) and for their distinct language in which there is a great deal of clicking. I even learned a couple of words...

I had the opportunity to interact with many of the San people over the weekend. Some of the younger ones speak English, but many of the elders speak only Naoachoe, their traditional language. Some of the highlights of the weekend include traditional dancing and singing around the fire. Their dances are very intricate, and each one is designed to tell a story. We went on a bush walk and learned about some of the traditional roots that were used for food and medicine. This includes Hoodia, a root that has been used by the San people for centuries, and is now being hailed as the newest appetite suppressant (read: future diet pill). There is big conflict about the intellectual rights to the marketing of Hoodia. If you are interested, check into it a little more...

San people congregating

Also I helped build a bushman hut out of grass and trees. With out a doubt, my favorite part of the weekend was making crafts with the San women. They taught me how to make beads out of ostrich shell (an incredibly difficult process that leads to crazy blisters). I had the opportunity to share a little bit of North American culture with them by teaching them to make dream catchers. Some of the young girls caught on really easily. I told them the folk tale associated with the dream catchers. I was really great to be able to share this with them.

The weekend ended by dropping off the San at their homes in D'Kar, and experience entirely different from the idealistic environment they were staying in at the farm. Most of the houses were built with small sticks as the walls. The sticks were held together with a concoction of mud, cow dung and water which held the walls sturdy when dry. Roofs were made by laying grass atop, or if you were extremely lucky, you had a piece of corrugated steel for your roof. And for them...this was reality. It's funny how sometimes we see just a snapshot of the life that people live, and that snapshot is so far from reality.

The one thing I really came to appreciate being around the San people is the value of family. In their culture, you are always with your family. Every house (without exception) is composed of an extended family. They are always there for one another, through the best of times and the worst. Everyone in the settlement is a friend, and they are open to bringing us crazy foreigners into their lives as friends. It really gave me a new appreciation of my own wonderful friends and family.

san people

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Kayla Donnawell

SFU Co-op Student
Science › Biomedical Physiology + Kinesiology
SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell volunteered with the Students Without Borders program (SWB) in Botswana, Africa.

You Might Like These... Volunteering, Equity, Diversity + Inclusion, Community Engagement, Job Description

Children playing hopscotch
An SFU student perspective on the Big Sisters Study Buddy program

You may have heard of them–you may even have an idea of what they do. But have you ever thought of being one? Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland has been serving girls in one-to-one mentoring relationships since 1960, with the mission of “enhancing the confidence, self-esteem and well-being of girls through supportive friendships with caring women”. Each Big and Little Sister match gets together once a week for at least one year. 

STC West Coast
Alumnus Profile: How Crystal Kwon Advanced Her Career Through Volunteerism

Students often overlook one important benefit of volunteerism. While students realize that scholarships and bursaries usually require community engagement, they often forget that volunteerism can also give you the edge you need after you finish your degree.

Kyle and volunteers
Kyle Jung: Expand Your Horizons through Volunteering

Did you know that you can make a difference through volunteering, as well as discovering your passions and career goals? These are just some of the benefits of volunteering, according to Kyle Jung, a 5th-year SIAT student who is also the Vice President of Operations, Interactive Arts & Technology Student Union (IATSU) and the SFSS Forum Representative.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

San people smiling and laughing
library_books
Blog
The Gods Must be Crazy
Community Engagement, Life Experience, International, Volunteering

SFU Kinesiology student Kayla Donnawell is in Botswana, Africa volunteering with the Students Without Borders program (SWB).  In this article, the seventh in the series, Kayla shares her weekend travels around Botswana.

You Might Like These... Community Engagement

Group of people with balloons in the sky
Accelerating Your Career Through Community Involvement

It may only be the start of the semester, but you’re probably already piled with work. However, there’s no better time to get involved within your community than now, especially with so many volunteer opportunities around with the new year. Find out how being involved can jumpstart your career.

VACFSS Banner
[Indigenous Employer] Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society

Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society is a non-profit society providing service to urban Aboriginal children and families living in the Greater Vancouver area. We function across three offices as the largest designated urban Aboriginal agency in Canada. 

Someone singing
Coast Salish Singing

Karen went to the Coast Salish singing workshop for several reasons. First she was aboriginal, new to SFU and thought it would be fun. Also she would be able to meet some other aboriginal students. Find out more about Coast Salish Singing...