It was the end of April 2021, I was working on my PhD dissertation at Ethiopian Space Science and Geo-spatial Institute (ESSGI) when my supervisor Professor Mengistu sent me the link for the Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) mobility scholarship call.

I saw the call and read all the steps of the application again and again before starting the application process. At that time, I was not sure that the opportunity would be given to me because before that time I had applied so many times for several scholarship opportunities, and none was successful. This time I applied for a 12 months visit to BIUST to complete the work for my PhD thesis with my supervisor.

For several months, there was no notification coming from PAPSSN about the selection outcomes. I was already resigned that my application failed once again and I was discouraged until September 2021, when I received an email notifying me that I have been selected for the PAPSSN mobility program.

Preparation for the study trip

After I saw the nomination letter from the PAPPSN coordinator, I wrote an email to my supervisor in order to decide on my arrival at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Then I notified the date of my arrival to the coordinator of PAPSSN and submitted all the necessary documents for my travel.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting an entry visa to Botswana was quite challenging. The Botswana Embassy in Ethiopia requested from me many documents as proof for my admission at BIUST, the travel ticket, nomination letter, invitation letter, and learning agreement to start my visa process. If you are not willing to spend a lot of time on paperwork there is no point for you to embark into an international scholarship application.

My Arrival at BIUST, Botswana.

My supervisor drove to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport to receive me upon my arrival. I am very grateful to Prof Mengistu for all the support secured while I was waiting to be transferred to my permanent accommodation. Palapye, the village where BIUST is located, is a very safe place with lots of accommodations for students and visiting staff. Most of these accommodations are in compounds where other students are staying.

After the accommodation was secured it was the time for me to open a bank account (where to receive my allowance), get a SIM card, and register at the School of Postgraduate Studies in order for me to get residence permit for my 12 months visit. All these took almost a month to be completed, but I was followed step by step by Mrs Chakandinakira, the project manager, and her team here at BIUST.

My work at BIUST so far…

In March, after I had settled down, all the basic processes for my registration were settled, I finally had the time to focus 100% on my Ph.D. with Prof. Mengistu. I have been asked to present my work in a seminar at the Earth and Environmental Science department.

I am currently working on the submission of my first paper and at the same time working on the analysis of the second part of my Ph. D project titled‘ Dynamics of surface water quality derived from satellite remote sensing: Insights from water quality contrasts of Lake Tana in Ethiopia and Okavango Delta in Botswana’.

I am grateful to Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) project Coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile and the entire PAPSSN selection committee for this unique opportunity. I also would like to express my special, deep and sincere gratitude to the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi and the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile for their efforts in ensuring that my allowance is paid on time.

I want to use this chance to say thanks to the PAPSSN mobility project management for this chance which doesn’t only help students to attain their dreams, but also contributes to empowering them to be able to face the development challenges in Africa. I’m deeply honored to be selected for this award which may surely contribute to the development of my career as young researchers and allow me to return to my country (Ethiopia) with far more knowledge and experience.

Finally, I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Mengistu, for his limitless support and sort advice for an excellent and efficient implementation of my Ph.D. research. Finally, I express my gratitude to the community of Botswana International University of Science and Technology for their support.

Palapye is a great place to spend time for study and research.