Library to host Sundins for Botswana talk

Helicopter tours over Victoria Falls, sunset cruises on the Zambezi River and elephant safaris in Chobe National Park are just a few of the exotic experiences Greg and Laraine Sundin enjoyed during their recent trip to Botswana and South Africa.

The Sundins, of Alpena, visited their daughter Elizabeth, who is serving in the Peace Corps. As part of Authors in the Fall 2013, the Sundins will talk about their trip at the Alpena County Library at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30.

The trip was a chance to visit Elizabeth, a 2008 Alpena High School graduate who interviewed with the Peace Corps while at the University of Michigan in 2011. She graduated in spring 2012 and moved to Botswana in September.

Greg Sundin said her village is very small, with no running water and temperatures that are close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. She works with teachers in her small village, leads an English Club and works to help empower women and girls. Her commitment to the Peace Corps extends through 2014.

Alexander McCall Smith will visit Alpena on Nov. 10, and several of his very popular books are set in Botswana. McCall Smith was raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and returned after attending university in Scotland to write Botswana’s first legal book.

His series about The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency has charmed audiences with its depiction of life in Botswana, where the old ways are cherished and the main character enjoys a cup of bush tea when deciding how to approach problems.

While visiting their daughter was the impetus for the trip, the Sundins took the opportunity to explore the countryside and take several tours and safaris. Greg Sundin said they were able to see giraffes, elephants, leopards, Cape buffalo, lions and several other species while on their trip.

They will share a sampling of the photos they took. Sundin notes that with a daughter in the Peace Corps, they became familiar with the issues facing Botswanans. Sundin noted the challenges faced by students in small rural villages, which may be more than five miles from the nearest junior high style school. He said many high schools are boarding so that students can attend them without travelling long distances each day.

Botswana and South Africa also continue to struggle with HIV Aids, which continues to be epidemic.