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Daniel Koehler

Daniel Koehler, of New York City, is one of five grantees selected from among 864 applicants for a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, which is the first of its kind. He will film a documentary on the San living near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, focusing on the loss and change of their culture.

“A House Without Snakes” Premieres at Top Documentary Film Festival

It’s been more than two years since I drafted my application for the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship. I remember how a friend told me about the application a week or two before it was due, and I submitted everything in a last-minute frenzy of writing. Little did I know that I would actually receive the fellowship…

Going Live with “Looking for Life”

Last week, I was in Washington DC for the Pre-Departure Orientation of the next round of Fulbright-National Geographic Fellows. During my visit, I gave a presentation about my time in Botswana and the progress on LOOKING FOR LIFE, my short documentary. In addition to speaking and showing images from my fellowship, I screened a two-minute…

Editing Begins!

For the past several weeks, I’ve been living in New Xade without internet access, so I haven’t been able to update my blog. But in the relative quiet of village life, I’ve made the important transition into postproduction. Kebabonye, my field producer and translator, and I have been working nonstop on the edit – watching…

“We Are People with Hopes. We Are People with Dreams.”

In one of my first blog posts, I introduced Ketelelo, a young San man who received a government scholarship to attend pre-university classes at Maru-a-Pula, the top senior secondary school in Botswana. Ketelelo grew up in New Xade and was raised by his grandmother. His parents died soon after his birth, and growing up alone…

Breakdown in the Kalahari

Mosodi shut the hood of the truck. “It’s the gearbox.” Earlier that morning, we had departed New Xade for another round of filming in Metsiamanong in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Shortly after passing the border gate into the reserve, the engine of our truck started making a loud clacking noise. Now, it wouldn’t even…

Looking for Life

At the beginning of March, I returned to New Xade for an extended visit. Someone in the community had recently passed away, and the funeral was scheduled for the same weekend I arrived. The day before the ceremony, I went to the cemetery to help dig the grave. A dozen of us took a couple…

Why Develop a Rapport?

In my last post, I mentioned being able to develop a rapport with the New Xade community. What does that mean? What does it look like? And why is it so important? Imagine someone – a foreigner speaking a foreign language no less – shows up at your home with a giant camera and says…

Transitioning from Lived Culture

For the last month and a half, I was living in New Xade, one of the San resettlement villages in the Ghanzi District of Botswana. As I mentioned in a previous post, New Xade is home to a convergence of traditional and modern means of living. When I returned to the village in December, I…

Tumelo and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Sorry for the shortage of posts for the past month and a half. I have been living in New Xade without internet access and even made a trip to Metsiamanong in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), where there are no amenities – not even a borehole for water. It has been an interesting time,…

New Xade: A Convergence of the Traditional and Modern

Progress continues smoothly here in Botswana. Within the first two weeks of arriving, I picked up my official research permit from the Office of the President. With that in hand, I met the principal of Maru-a-Pula and got the go-ahead to film on campus with Ketelelo. I’ve already had a couple of shoots with Ketelelo…

Arrival in Botswana: Elections, Friends, and a Used Car

Dumêlang borra le bomma! That’s greetings in Setswana, the national language of Botswana. After a 7-hour flight across the Atlantic, an 11-hour layover in England, and an 11-hour flight to South Africa, I boarded a small twin-engine prop plane for my final flight to Botswana. My equipment backpack was too large for the overhead bin,…

Daniel Koehler: Examining the Impact of Resettling Botswana’s San

In focusing on San identity and membership in the modern southern African state of Botswana, my film will ask many important questions. What aspects of traditional life are readily adaptable to a more settled lifestyle? What are the main areas of intergenerational agreement in regard to who the San are and who they would like to become, and how do these issues play out in everyday life? How is San identity tied up in political mobilization, and how can government policy support that identity in an increasingly globalized world?