Daniel Koehler

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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,...

A friend introduced me to the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship a month before the submission deadline. I was visiting him and a couple other friends, and they all agreed: “This sounds tailor-made for you.” They were right. I was itching to start another project and loved the idea of partnering with National Geographic, my childhood dream...