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Former ASHPU president recieves two national awards
by Dava Della, staff writer

Selawe Tau, an HPU senior double majoring in computer information systems and travel industry management, won two national awards in his home country of Botswana last June: a Leadership and Personal Development Award and The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs’ Special Award at the Second National Youth Awards Ceremony, held in Gaborone. According to Botswanan President, Festus Mogae, “These awards are meant to motivate young people and prod them into performing better in their various endeavors.”

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For two years the National Youth Policy and the National Action Plan and Programs of the Botswana government have given out awards to young people between the ages of 12 and 29. The awards, given in six categories—business enterprise, leadership and personal development, community development, arts and culture, environmental conservation, and sports and recreation—promote qualities that benefit society such as good character, purpose, integrity, and hard work.

The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs’ Special Award honors exceptional achievements that have not been accommodated in the other categories. Tau was recognized as being the first African president of a student council at a U.S. university.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized nationally,” said Tau. “Winning two awards came as a surprise to me. I’m overwhelmed, but at the same time, I’m proud of myself.”

Tau, who came to Hawai‘i in the fall of 1998, chose to study at HPU because the university provided a good example of globalization. He said Hawai‘i is “a model,” and at HPU, “with students from more than 107 countries, I’ve been able to learn and interact with different cultures. I feel like I’m part of a team.”

In 1966, Botswana became an independent nation. The democratically ruled republic, a former protectorate of Britain, boasts a growing economy and a stable political environment. It is Africa’s largest exporter of diamonds and beef. As a current representative-at-large for ASHPU, Tau also serves as vice president of the Universal African Club at HPU.

As a volunteer with Junior Achievement, Tau has painted school buildings in Mililani, adopted a section of Kamehameha Highway in Kane‘ohe for maintenance, talked to elementary students about his country, and done beach cleanup at Magic Island. “I’ve always been involved in a community service back home,” said Tau. “Being part of a program that helps kids makes me a better person.” One of his most rewarding experiences as a volunteer was helping to build a house for a low-income family, as part of a Habitat for Humanity project. “I was able to help someone have a better life,” he said.

Tau’s biggest accomplishment to date has been his role as last year’s ASHPU student body president. Citing his leadership experience, educational background, and the support of the people back home, he is confident about becoming president of his country someday. “I’ve always wanted to be president of Botswana,” said Tau. “I think I can realize that dream.”

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