TTS22 Group photo

Friday, September 27, 2013

Enjoy life, every day!

(Travel Journalism Student Article)

Today was a swirl of emotions, one moment we were questioning if humanity is a lost hope and the next we were inspired to change the world. Our first destination was the Apartheid Museum which showed us a country torn apart by ignorance and united by voices of the revolution. We read the words dense with hatred about the color of another man's skin. We burned our eyes with images of injustice and brutality between whites and blacks during the fight for equality.

“I really enjoyed the pictures in the  museum because it made me feel like I was actually there and could relate,” Emilee remarked.  Through all of the pain and suffering that haunted the halls, above it all rang the voices of Nelson Mandela, known to the people as Madiba (filler of ditches). As we ventured into the time of hope, truth and reconciliation in the museum the girls quickly gathered up their spirits and we left having faith in a bright future for South Africa.

To see where where this bright future began we then visited Kliptown, Soweto where the Freedom Charter was created. This area is significant to the people of South Africa because the Freedom Charter was the great united front against the apartheid government and became the basis for the current constitution.
As we stood on top of the bridge we could clearly see the town divided in two by a railroad, but it is hard to imagine the two sides have any relation to each other at all. One side of the tracks is the typical urban city, but once we crossed to the other side our surroundings transformed into what people here fear, the slums. People will often tell you to steer clear of these poverty stricken areas, so naturally we were nervous to be parading down their streets, a spectacle to them all. We kept our heads high and our minds open with the words of Nelson Mandela stuck in our minds: “I learnt that courage was not the absence of fear, but triumph over it.”

Our guide, Jabo, lead us into the small town, where plastic bags appear to be sprouting from the ground instead of grass and children skipped across the littered ground barefoot. A variety of music echoed out of the doorways of the tin shacks. The clothes stained red by the dust dangled from the barbed wire fences.  “Something that really struck me was that everyone was so happy and friendly, the kids were all out playing.” Natalie recalled. “It's definitely something our communities back home often lack."  Jabo explained they have no infrastructure, sanitation, schools, hospitals, things we consider essential, but they put the most emphasis on mentality. The people here had learned how to look for the light even when they were lost in the darkness.

Within Kliptown we visited Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY), an organization started by a man named Brother Bob 26 years ago. It was established to provide a safe place for kids who may not have one. Up to 200 children may be  at SKY a day and 45 of those live there permanently. Most no longer have parents or a safe home environment and have been affected by HIV.

As we walked through the small rooms we had children hanging on our arms or seated on our hips, radiating with joy and excitement. Brother Bob explained they were on their fifth day without food, but he assured us “it is better to be full in the mind than full in the stomach.”

We gathered around a small stage they had created to watch the SKY children and teens perform. The show began with a few boys silently acting out things they see in their town everyday; drugs, drinking and gambling until a man comes along and shows them the light. The boys break into a dance with complex footwork and perfect synchronization. Later they astounded us by creating their own music by clapping and slapping their gumboots, a technique used by generations before them to communicate while working in the diamond and gold mines in South Africa. Girls joined in singing a harmonious chorus and a traditional dance; a passionate combination of body and soul.

When the performance was over we sat with Brother Bob to discuss challenges in their lives and how they overcome them. He showed us the blessing in hardship and how he never let his head fall. “We can live without money but we can't live without love,” he told us. No matter what the topic was he was able to put a positive spin on it and the words danced off his tongue in a way so beautiful it brought tears to our eyes. As we left Kliptown, we felt our eyes were truly open and we were inspired to make a difference.

Tonight as we go to bed we remember what Jabo taught us and say “today I enjoyed life.”


Below are two pictures of the Orlando Towers in Soweto.  Both towers are painted, one functioning as an advertising billboard and the other containing the largest mural painting in South Africa. The towers are also used for bungee and BASE jumping from a platform between the top of the two towers as well as a bungee swing into one of the towers.  Orlando Power Station is a decommissioned coal fired power station in Soweto, South Africa. The power station was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years.

Mountain Beauty

(Travel Journalism Student Post)

Waking up in the Drakensberg Mountains on a mid September morning is surprisingly warm, until you see the dark rumbling clouds roll in from behind camp. We threw our rain-flies on our tents for the first time and prepared ourselves for a day of rain and classes. Luckily, Mother Nature helped us out by giving us a partly cloudy day for our walk up to Thukela Gorge. The sun was shining down on us by the time we had arrived at the trail head, and we were all eager to get going.

Stopping an obnoxious amount of times to take photos and to take in what beauty big heaps of rock can be, the hike ended up taking us about seven hours instead of the average five or six. David Bristow's book “The Best Walks of the Drakensberg” states the Thukela Gorge “is the most spectacular walk in the park, and one of the finest of all Berg walking experiences.” The mountains indeed surpassed all expectations. The scenery was astounding, although the trail wasn't for the weak hearted.

The way up was at an incline, with roots and rocks popping out of the path every which way. “ I thought it was tricky to maintain your footing.” Molly expressed after the strenuous walk was over. We also got to do a solo hike for part of the trail, getting to have some personal time, while taking in the sweet mountain air. Reaching the rocky Gorge, we got tot view boulders the sizes of houses and also saw the behemoths up close!

The day was all over immaculate with the weather and the views. We only got to experience a smidgen of what Drakensberg is capable of. Although many of us are walking away slightly sore and blistered, the hike was gnarly.


Just an example of the enormous rocks - TTS18 on the same hike

What do you want to be when you grow up?

(Travel Journalism Student Post)

"I don't know yet,” Juliana replied to a group of seven students. Suddenly, they broke out into laughter and gasped.

“They were all so sure of their professions, and I'm just not,” said Juliana. Among her group, all knew exactly what they wanted to be, with professions ranging from nurses, social workers, teachers, doctors, graphic designers, and rappers.

Juliana's interaction took place last Friday at Imvenza School in Waterval Boven, South Africa, marking the girls' second school visit.

The ten-minute walk from the hostel to the school revealed more information about the economic system within Waterval Boven. “There was garbage everywhere, and many of the houses were made from scraps of metal with rocks to hold down the roofs. There were rusted fences, and I could tell many of the households had little income,” said Peri.

After arriving at the school, the girls waited outside the locked gate until granted access to enter. They did not know what to expect-- what would the students be like? What would they talk about? Would they have things in common? The girls separated into groups assigned to different classrooms. The girls soon enough found that the township proved to be in no way a representation of the atmosphere within the school, where the students were highly optimistic and hopeful.

Topics ranged from sports, boyfriends, and music, to favorite school subjects and college. Molly was most intrigued by what her group of teenagers felt toward their education. “I asked them if there were any teachers they disliked, and they said, 'No, because we're so happy to be at this school and getting an education.' It made me realize how fortunate I am to be in school.”

Waterval Boven is a coal mining town, where a majority of its residents work in the mines. Despite the students' high aspirations for pursuing college and a profession, it made the TTS girls wonder how many would end up working there. “I have the highest hopes for them,” said Lindsay, “but I know that it'll be tough for them, considering the limited resources they have.” These limited resources, as all the girls noticed in their classroom visits, were the absence of books, textbooks, posters on the walls, and a computer for the teacher, with crammed desks, limited space, and inadequate lighting. “It just makes me appreciate my education much more,” Anna said.

As the girls left the school after much picture-taking and hugging, they were glad to have connected with the local students, only if for a short while. Perhaps now the only way to see if the students' professional ambitions live up to the future is to return in twenty years, and see for ourselves!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

to tide you over until the pics load

Check out this link - It's a little number they put together to sing when the group visits schools, community houses and more.  This was recorded in the rehearsal phase... but they rocked it at SKY in Jo'berg.

(Please note, this is a private video on YouTube.  If you would like to see it, but cannot currently access it, please let me know.)

And here's a little peek at a performance in the campground one evening.  This was a great surprise and I think the girls were relieved to get a free ticket out of their last class of the day.

And a pic from global class - Ngwyena is teaching everyone the formal greetings.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Group Photo with Names

Back row from left to right: Brenna, Megan, Maeve, Juliana, Sarah P., Mayree, Katherine, Lindsay, Ariela, Anna (Bird), Sylvia

Front row from left to right: Sarah W. Mara, Natalie, Emilee, Hannah, Peri, Eleanor, Molly, Anne, Heather

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wow- Here's to an amazing group of young ladies!

I'm not sure if any of you have read, Scribbling the Cat, a short story by Alexandra Fuller, but as she says in the story, you shouldn't be allowed to travel from Africa to the United States in a day.  As a traveler I need time to relish in the sweet smell of burning grasses next to the road as well as the somewhat unpleasant smell of burning trash on the edges of small communities.  I need time to reflect on the big smiles and outstretched arms of young children in community houses.  I need time to realize the cheetahs relaxing in the shadows of the tree were real as were the rhinos foraging through the bush.  And, one long plane ride, even a pro-longed 23 hour one, just isn't enough to let it all soak it!

And, one plane ride doesn't even begin to let me process the incredible group of young women traveling together as a solidified TTS22 unit.  From the moment they bounded off the truck in Kruger Park to introduce themselves til the sad goodbyes in the airport parking lot, these girls astounded me with their curiosity, intelligence and dedication to get to know everyone as an individual to form unique and lasting friendships.

From Megan's gregarious personality, ready to conquer every activity with an enthusiastic cheer to Emilee's quieter, go get 'em approach, this group is unique.  While walking into town one afternoon, I learned Peri is named after the periwinkle color and that she finds clarity through drawing.  Game driving through Kruger, I witnessed Ariela's love of photography and Hannah's dedication to films and creating a documentary of the trip.  The rafting adventure gave me time to chat with Lindsay about her enthusiasm for sports as we paddled our duckie through the rocky rapids.  And although she claimed to be a novice ultimate frisbee player, she quickly caught on and guarded Anne, a nimble and natural athlete, during the first game in Waterval Boven.  Anne's athletic prowess is a side-note to her dreams of obtaining an international political degree.  Natalie and Mara could be mistaken for sisters with their curly black hair, contagious laughter and interest in the world around them.

Rock climbing outside of Waterval Boven let me witness the camaraderie of the group as they cheered one another up the rock face.  Molly quickly picked up a belay line and guided many of the girls up the routes.  Although Molly loves climbing, this was her first outdoor climbing experience, and her smile spread from ear to ear all day long.  Mara hesitated at first to be the first one up the most difficult climb, but with some cheers, she roped up and scampered up the crag like a pro!  Julianna also questioned the rock, and noticed the seemingly lack of hand and footholds, but after Brenna gave her a pep talk, she mastered every climb - doing a couple twice.  Emilee was quick to follow the cheers and scampered to the top of the rock to enjoy the view of the valley.  With a high five and a smile at the bottom, she sighed, "well that wasn't so bad," and hopped in line for another route.

The rock climbing day was followed by a day of hiking and abseiling.  At the beginning of the hike, Megan and I shared soccer stories about traveling for sports and thoughts of being a collegiate athlete.  After a short break and a change up of hiking buddies, Eleanor and I clamored up and over tree roots and skipped from rock to rock to keep our feet dry, all the while I learned about her childhood mud fights and her peaceful protests about clothing rules as a grade schooler.  After a quick swim under a waterfall, at the top of the hike, I wandered out through a dry river bed with Maeve and learned about her dedication to nordic skiing and her goal of hiking all the peaks in the Appalachians, which happen to practically be in her backyard.  At the end of the day, I watched Kat nervously tiptoe to the edge of the rock before the abseil and turn back to the group with a giggle and a salute to have fun and enjoy the ride.

I sat with Sarah while we enjoyed our first sudza dinner and learned about her passion for playing the violin.  (She even convinced me to pick mine back up this fall - to fall back in love with making music and enjoying the simple melodies that four strings can make.)  Afterwards, we laughed with Anna, "Bird," about how fun it was to eat dinner with our hands while trying new foods.  Throughout my stay, Bird continued to make me laugh with stories from home.

And that was all outside of the "actual classrooms" - during classes I was amazed at each girl's ability to connect various concepts and question themes with a deeper awareness of their learning.  I watched the math concepts class exclaim as they received their game of life characters and then try to alter their situations to start their practice road to economic success.  Science class was always energetic, discussing the animals during game drives, the reasoning for prescribed burns and often having a "TREE! Break" or "FROG! Break" or "SPIDER! Break".

I questioned a Friday night History class at 6:15 PM - Sarah told the girls they needed hoodies and a head lamp and had to be on the back porch not even 10 seconds late.  Hmm... let me remind you dusk in Africa is an amazing settling of colors that fades away as the brilliantly red sun quickly hides behind the horizon.  The dusk to sunset moments take my breathe away - and last about that long too.  So, it is already quite dark at 6:15 pm.  And, so the history class commences in the dark and negotiations begin in a secret ANC meeting about how to end apartheid.  Listening from below the deck, I hear whispers raise to exclamations during the debate and nervous thoughts about what methods should be pursued.  And, when the class/ mock ANC meeting ended, I heard more than one girl exclaim "I really didn't believe learning could be this much fun..."

And they continued to discuss the endless apartheid questions throughout dinner... yes a Friday night... and no, dinner doesn't count as class.

These are only a few hints about your amazing daughters and the community they have created.  I can't say enough about how naturally they have come together and empowered one another to be leaders.  Each gal is unique and she is finding the space to share her knowledge, passion and questions.  They have opened up about struggles and hardships and through these tender conversations, they have created bonds deeper than many of their oldest friendships.

And I haven't even mentioned the teachers - WOW!  Each is passionate about her work as an educator, outdoorsmanship and traveler.  Their classes are inspiring because they are genuinely interested in the students and the material.  I often found myself taking notes because I wanted to know more.  They recognize the power of the global community and are transmitting its complexities your daughters.

Now back in Bozeman, I am finally recovered from my jetlag.  I've been sharing stories of my adventure and am constantly reminded of the amazing experience TTS offers.  I am also weeding through the 600+ photos and will have an album to share in the next few days.

Enjoy your Monday!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Flying is Fun!

Neon orange helmets and scrunched toes in shoes two sizes too small only means one thing in Waterval Boven: rock climbing. Led by Gustav Janse van Rensburg, a professional climber of 23 years, the TTS girls set forth to the crag known as “Flying is Fun!”
    “In the early 90's, an adventurous paraglider dared to jump off the very rocks we are climbing today,” Gustav explained. “When the paramedics arrived after the failed attempt, the rocks got its name, as well as the nickname “Broken Bones.”” Fortunately, the nickname did not apply to our rock climbing adventure.
    After a tedious hike up and over the steep, rocky mountains, the girls had already begun to break a sweat. Soon enough, they arrived at Flying is Fun, overlooking the amber cliffs of the Drankensburg mountain range. For some of the girls, examining the 14 meter cliffs got their adrenaline rushing, while other girls instantly felt butterflies in their stomachs. It was a new experience, strengthening the girls physically and mentally.
    Take Maeve for example: attempting to climb one of the harder routes first, she grew impatient and began to doubt herself. “When I was climbing, I didn't trust my legs. It was so frustrating,” Maeve exclaimed with disappointment. After some persuasion, practice runs, and coaxing from Brenna, Maeve decided to overcome her fear by conquering the hardest climb of the crag.
    The narrow crack and minimal foot and hand space did not hold her back. She mustered up all her courage, and with encouragement from below and the power within, Maeve reached her goal. Beaming from the top, Maeve observed the endless view of the township and stunning mountains, providing a spectacular bonus to her achievement.
    “It really made me realize I have to believe in my strength and have less self doubt,” said Maeve. With the encouragement of the TTS community, girls can realize their power to overcome bigger and better climbs in the future.

Travel Journalism Article by Peri

(*Stay tuned for more TJ articles throughout the semester - each gal is practicing her reporting skills during different activities.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Science Comes Alive

Natural Science
Do you see the Southern Cross?
Science has had a great start this semester as the TTS excursions and activities lend themselves to fantastic science learning opportunities.  Really, how can you beat three days cruising through Kruger National Park? Rock climbing and abseiling on the quartz sandstone of the mountains surrounding Waterval Boven? Hiking through grasslands, Acacia forests and highland brush? Camping under the Southern Cross constellation? Science dreamland!

Twiza (Shona for Giraffe) sighting in Kruger National Park

The science curriculum began with an overview of the biomes found in southern Africa including the fynbos, savannas, grasslands and forests, etc. We examined their main features and geographical distribution. Students then studied ecological concepts such as population distribution and growth rates, keystone species, types of diversity, r- and k-strategists, and, of course, allopatric and sympatric speciation.  These concepts are easy to comprehend when watching giraffes and hippos and other animals in the field! 

You can't see me!
In science class there is always a practical field work component taught along with the population ecology information and theory. During our time in Kruger, students applied animal behavior theory and methods to the study of five animals:  elephant, wildebeest, impala, zebra and baboon.  They collected behavioral data using ethogram data sheets, and learned how to produce an activity budget.  Another useful field skill students learned was techniques for pacing meter measurements.

As plants are principal to the understanding of any ecosystem (foundation of the trophic levels pyramid) class time was dedicated to looking carefully at the differences between plant life forms, and in particular, leaf arrangement types. Students are now able to distinguish between a monocot and a dicot in addition to seeing the difference between a simple-alternate and compound-opposite leaf arrangement.  Sound dull?  Not at all! Students enjoyed looking at plants around many of our campsites and now have made terms like 'inflorescence' and 'pubescence' roll off their tongues!

 As we travel on to settings more aimed to the social, historical and global studies focus, science classes are shifting towards environmental issues and opportunities in South Africa and beyond for class material.  Our most recent class focused on ecology and its role in poverty reduction. During this class, smaller groups discussed ecology's role/relationship to hunger, energy, disasters, water and disease. Students then compared their ideas to those of scientists and conservation professionals, and lastly orally presented their conclusions to the entire group. The students were both thoughtful and insightful in their brainstorming and conclusions. A great group of budding scientists!  

--Sylvia Seger

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Class Updates from Heather

Global Studies
Our Global Studies class this semester began with activities and readings designed to help students investigate aspects of their own culture and identity. As Anne discussed in her first weekly reflection, comparing and contrasting stereotypes of American culture with our own personal cultures raises our awareness about the dangers of overgeneralizing and the importance of understanding culture on a more individual basis. The girls embraced their first opportunity for cultural exchange during a cooking activity with South African students from Southern Cross school. Sarah, Peri, Anna, and Maeve tended to our cooking pots and sought advice about spices for traditional stew from their South African counterparts. Other girls chopped veggies and chatted. Katherine listened attentively to the Southern Cross students' stories, soaking up the details of everyday South African teenage life. Natalie was impressed at how much the Southern Cross students knew about the US, while South Africa was so unknown to our group. Girls received a crash course in South African history during a fascinating talk from a former ANC activist detailing his first-hand experiences in the resistance against apartheid. We will further investigate themes of race, identity, and power throughout the semester as the girls continue to read My Traitor's Heart, which follows a white South African's personal struggles as an Afrikaner and anti-apartheid journalist.

Algebra 2 & Pre-calculus
On a chilly and misty day in Magoebaskloof, both the Pre-Calculus and Algebra 2 began the semester with discussions about converting temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit, requiring students to recall and apply algebra skills from previous courses in a real-world context.

Several Algebra 2 students have set goals for improvement in math this semester. To address these goals, we will focus on breaking down problems into manageable parts in order to understand the processes we use to solve, rather than memorizing procedures. As Maeve has pointed out, in order to better remember what we learn, we need to make connections among topics and push ourselves to "see the big picture." In pursuit of this goal, Algebra 2 students extended our first day discussion about temperature conversion to a more general review of graphs and equations, focusing on understanding graphs as pictures of solutions to algebraic equations. Students applied knowledge of graphs and used graphing calculators to investigate patterns in transformations of functions. After completing their first test this week, the girls have begun a more in-depth unit on solving linear equations and inequalities.

In Pre-calculus, students have reviewed algebraic concepts to set a solid foundation for our work this semester. We approached review topics such as simplifying expressions and factoring polynomials with a questioning lens in order to gain a deeper understanding of why the processes learned in previous courses actually work. Rather than memorize rules for simplifying exponents, students derived the rules themselves. A review of solving quadratic equations focused the decision-making process in choosing a strategy as a way to best understand the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques. Most importantly, the students in Pre-calculus have set the intention to approach math in a new way this semester - rather than slogging through math problems, we will have fun challenging ourselves with interesting math puzzles. Hannah embraced this sentiment with the title of "Fun Stuff!" on the top of her math homework.

--Heather Politi

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A few Academic Updates from South Africa

Math Concepts
Math Concepts is a real world, real life class.  It focuses on how mathematics can be applied their lives.  The first classes have dealt the idea of money and material possessions and to what extent they can or cannot make an individual happy. From this class we have covered more literal math applications topics such as banking, debit verses credit cards, how to write checks, interest rates and budgeting. Most recently we have started the Game of Life, where each student randomly selects a new identity.  We have a doctor, a teacher, a hotel receptionist, a seasonal/contract worker and a minimum wage worker.  With these characters the girls are armed with financial information such as: wages and living expenses and expected to manage a budget. Each class period, these characters must take on unexpected and known financial challenges—car insurance, new braces, hail damage, and more. This activity brings budgeting, credit and banking lessons to life.

Travel Journalism
The first few weeks of class have focused on the differences in journalism compared to essays and creative writing typically taught in school. From how to determine what’s newsworthy, to information gathering and structuring a news piece, students are learning that writing for National Geographic demands a combination of strong description and pertinent facts. On the photography side, we have played with action shots, different settings in the foreground, angles, and of course, how to best capture wildlife.  This week the girls will receive their first article assignment and will put their interview skills to the test.  Look for each Travel Journalism student to post a blog on a activity in the weeks to come.
 --Brenna Kelleher

Literature and Composition
Students  in the Literature and Composition course began the semester writing "I Am" poems, reflecting on where they came from, and how that might influence their perspective and who they are today. We read a series of short stories about South Africa under Apartheid, where the class practiced critically and actively reading and analyzing a text. They produced "Found Poems" by rearranging the pieces of text that spoke to them, a tool to hone in on meaning. As we moved into Kruger Park, students read various folk tales from Southern Africa. They explored the elements and purpose of a folktale, and brainstormed morals they would want to pass on through storytelling. They then created and performed their own unconventional folk tales under the stars. We have begun reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The students are engrossed in the themes which they are relating to what they are seeing in South Africa - the effects of the cultural arrogance that comes with colonialism and Western development. They are also having fun identifying with various characters, and discussing which of the Price sisters they like best.


Studies in the History course so far have been defined by the policy of Apartheid in South Africa. Through class assignments and discussions, students have benefited immensely from experiential learning activities and seeing history all around us. They met a freedom fighter named Juri who was jailed for his anti-apartheid activity with the ANC. They played games to memorize the various political parties and legislative acts that influenced the course of events. Students are also responsible for teaching the class about an influential South African figure, group, or concept, from Gandhi and satyagraha, to Steve Biko and Black Consciousness. Most exciting, a visit is coming up to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg as well as a non-profit providing services for the descendants of gold-miners who were the originators of gumboots dancing. If we're lucky we might experience a performance from the local youth!
--Sarah White

Monday, September 9, 2013

Last week we visited a South African school called Southern Cross, whose educational philosophy is based on developing a deeper understanding of nature. We learned about their grey water system,  and admired their thatched roofs which blended into the environment. The pinnacle of the morning was hearing from their board member, Yuri, who was one of the only white Afrikaner members of the African National Congress (Mandela's party) under Apartheid. His stories of being labeled a terrorist by the government and jailed during that period held the students captive. After peppering Yuri with questions about South African history and how such a violent regime was able to come to power, we were taken to see two black rhinos before they were released into the wild. There are only 3,000 black rhino left in the world, and by the end of the day we would see three! The students learned about rhino poaching and spoke with the guards who slept in the bush every night protecting the few black rhino in the area. And this was all before lunch!

 In the afternoon we went to Moholoholo, an animal reserve in Mpumalanga province where we learned about the endangered species of the region and experienced up-close encounters with them. Molly had a vulture land on her arm whose wingspan was wider than she is tall. Juliana and Eleanor touched the lips of a black rhino, and Megan rested her hand on the paw of a leopard just after Lindsay hand-fed it chunks of meat! We all stroked the back and graceful tail of a cheetah. We met a famous honey-badger named Houdini who is a master escape-artist. Peri, with camera in hand, captured it all.

The group spent 2 1/2 days on a game drive in Kruger and we saw almost every animal you can imagine, from a leopard crossing the road, to three prides of lion resting on rocks, to three cheetah hanging out after a kill. Science class occurred non-stop as the students gathered data about the animals and made notes in their field journals. We waited on our big blue truck as a herd of 100 Cape buffalo crossed in front of us. Giraffe were on all sides, and elephants too. We saw hippo, crocodile, eagles, hyena, impala, and kudu. Some students have tasted biltong, the local jerky that is made out of springbok, kudu and impala.

So much has happened, and the girls are quite busy! Coming up, we are looking forward to celebrating Ariela's quinceanera.

Friday, September 6, 2013

More TTS22 News from Overseas and a Reading List

DearTTS22 Friends and Family,

I'm hoping you were able to talk to your daughters yesterday when they had the opportunity to call. I know it was a pleasant surprise for you, as we weren't able to give you a head's up as to when to expect a call. starting on Sunday, the girls should have the ability to call during town time, and hopefully that will begin a more consistent every 10 days to 2 weeks call. 

Leopard, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Rhino & Elephants, oh my!
I spoke to Brenna yesterday too and got an update on some highlights from the past few days in Kruger, where the group was able to see Africa's Big Five-- most notable, a crouching leopard near the truck that had some nearby warthogs in its sight. They even saw three wild cheetahs! At Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center,, the group viewed lion and leopard cubs and were able to pet a cheetah. They also went to a game farm arranged by our friends at the Southern Cross School, and were able to see the rare black rhinos about to be released into the wild next week. Sylvia kept the girls focused on their Science projects,. monitoring animals during the various safari drives this week.  This seems to go along with the majority of the girls hopes they shared in Washington, DC -- to see lots of wildlife! 

Our girls will be wearing shoes!
Today, the students rafted the Sadie River nearby and had time for a 1/2-day of classes to boot. And then, the group heads to Waterval Boven (above the waterfall), where they'll light down for a bit, regroup, check in, bank some class hours and try their hand at rock climbing and abseiling on some world famous quartzite crags and cliffs. Look forward to receiving more updates from the teachers, students and hopefully more photos too!!

In case you're interested in reading some of the books your daughter may be reading, here are a few options:
The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay -- this was a summer reading book that Sarah asked the literature students to read set in South Africa during the 1950's. It's a book full of strong characterization -- and the main character is a young English boy trying to find his way in a racially divided South Africa.
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver -- if you haven't read the rich language of Kingsolver, this is your best chance. This novel isn't set in southern Africa, but it has so many common themes your daughters will encounter as they experience the continent of Africa, it's a great choice for one of their literature books. This is quasi-autobiographical, as Kingsolver's father did take her family when she was a child. The voices and personalities of each of the four daughters prove a wonderful way to think about perspective and history as well as to analyze point of view and characterization.
The Second Coming of Mavalo Shikongo, Peter Orner -- another lyrically written novel, this time set in Namibia at a rural all-boys school. The students use Orner's format to delve into their descriptive writing skills and will bring home honed vignettes that describe the places, people, conversations and events they've experienced overseas.
My Traitor's Heart, Rian Malan -- this quite intense piece of non-fiction will be the focus of Global Studies while in South Africa. It will help to bring to light many of the subtle and not-so-subtle issues of race that are rooted in history as well as still prevalent today.

Let us know how you're doing out there; we know it's difficult waiting for news, so if you have questions or want to chat, give us a call or send out an email.

Cheers from the Bozeman Office!
Jennifer, Price & Jim

Update from South Africa Orientation Week

It has been a energetic as well as a rainy first week here in Mageobaskloof, South Africa! We are working on building our community for the rest of semester through various team building exercises and physical activities. We played mind games and puzzles with the Mageobaskloof crew and sat around a bonfire with some of the workers as they gave us a quick lesson in Afrikaans and Pedi -the local language in this part of the Limpopo region. On our third day in Africa, having yet to of seen the sun, we were in Global Studies when the clouds broke, and we all ran outside to meet the African sun for the first time! Never have I seen so many smiling happy faces. The rest of the week was spent in orientation activities and classes. On Thursday night we had a traditional cook-off, the girls had to split up into two groups and were given various cooking ingredients and cooked us a traditional Afrikaans meal over the fire. The highlight of the week was the eleven line zip-line canopy tour over the ravines of George's Valley. The first step off of the deck was the most nerve racking, but nothing could compare to the line over the 25 meter waterfall. Girls struck a pose over the falls and screamed as they flew across. Though some of the activities were not as adrenaline loaded, the mind games on the ropes course got the shy girls talking more and the more vocal girls listening , thus allowing for every girl to find her voice in the group. The more team building activities we conquer, the more we start to move and think as a cohesive team, preparing the girls for adventurous activities in the weeks to come!

Brenna Kelleher

Monday, September 2, 2013

Potjie (Iron Chef) Cook Off

Classes, Cook -offs and Recreating!  TTS22 is bustling with activity while forming as a group.  Classes started this week and everyone is adjusting to using pens/pencils and paper and referring to resource books and thesauruses instead of hitting an ON button.
Let's see - here's a little rundown of last week's happenings:

Sunday - orientation, games and bonding time. 

Monday - wakie! wakie!  Eggs and Bakey!  But before breakfast the girls had a cardio PE class.  And after a hearty breakfast, it was time for the first full class day!

Tuesday- Youth challenge course solving problems in small teams.

Wednesday - Back to class.  Back to class, back to class TTS22 goes with crazy creeks and eagle creeks.

Thursday - Yahoo! Ziplining through the canyon - over waterfalls and under the canopy they went!  Screams and laughter echoes throughout the air.  The girls then competed in a little friendly cook-off with the Southern Cross School.  TTS18 connected with Southern Cross, a boarding school near Kruger Park, and have remained friends of the school since.  Your girls will visit the school the next week to see their campus and possibly discover which bushes they can use as toothpaste in the African bush.

The cook-off was in cook groups of about 7 people - so 3 TTS teams  and 2 Southern Cross teams.  Each group had to slice and dice veggies and then cook in potjies with just the right flavor combination.  (I put an explanation below to try to help explain the Afrikaaner barbeque (braai) tradition.)  Sounds like it was quite the cook-off and there were no clear winners- but you might have to double check this with your daughter when you chat next week. :)

The girls also practiced re-packing their duffel bags and shifting tents this week to shuffle things around and let them get to know other girls.

Friday - another day of classes!  Followed by an evening around the fire.

Next adventure - seeing Big Blue roll through the gates, meeting Ngwenya and Mvuu (driver and cook) and eventually heading off in their new home on wheels.

Stay tuned for an update from the field - teachers are waiting for internet to post some stories of their adventure.

Enjoy your Monday!


 springtime flowers
 a hint of truck life

A Potjie is Cookware descended from Dutch Ovens
In South Africa, a potjie (pronounced /poiki:/), directly translated "small pot" from Afrikaans, is a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged (tripod) pot. It is similar in appearance to a cauldron and is usually black. It is used to cook potjiekos over an open fire.
Among the South African tribes these pots also became known as phutu pots.
Potjie can also refer to the technique of cooking potjiekos. This tradition originated in the Netherlands during the Seige of Leiden and was brought to South Africa by Dutch immigrants. It persisted over the years with the Voortrekkers and survives today as a traditional Afrikaner method of cooking.
The story of the legendary three-legged, potbellied cast-iron pot is as old as the Iron Age, when man first learned to cast liquid iron into vessels of different shapes for a variety of purposes. But the potjie wasn't always used for noble purposes, as is clearly illustrated in the cartoons depicting cannibals and warriors from Africa, Guinea and the South China Sea who cooked their captives in what's known as Guinea kettles or missionary pots over an open fire.
Also, around 1500 BC witches and druids used huge black pots as part of their rituals and ceremonies. To this day, they're bought by the Wicca all over the world.
The history of the South African potjie started in Holland somewhere between 1566 to 1648 during the war between the Netherlands and Spain. During the siege of Leyden food was scarce and town people contributed what meagre morsels they had into a large communal pot and cooked it all together. Today in Holland, hutspot (housepot) is still cooked at the annual commemoration day of the "Siege of Leiden". The various types of hotpot found today are similar dishes where meat and vegetables are cooked in layers and never stirred.
The potjie made its way to Africa along with Dutch settlers, who then took it with them on the Great Trek. From there early explorers used these cooking vessels exclusively on their expeditions into the interior and each family had at least two potjies, a round one for meat, and a flat one (Dutch oven) for bread. It was during this period that the tribal Africans realised the practical uses of the pots and traded animal hides and other commodities for them, replacing their clay pots that were used for cooking.
Among the African tribal cultures these pots became known as "phutu" pots. The black cast-iron potjie has survived the test of time and is used extensively in Africa by almost all cultures. With the advent of electricity, the potjie was all but forgotten in South Africa, but some 30 years ago it enjoyed a huge revival, and today is as valued a cooking utensil as the pressure cooker and microwave oven.