TTS22 Group photo

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For the TTS22 parents not on the trip: One man's view

As I write this it is 2:15 a.m. Thursday. Lolo and I arrived home from the TTS22 parents trip about 12 hours ago. My body stubbornly clings to TTS22 time and I cannot sleep. If I could I'm sure I'd dream of Africa.

We joined the girls Nov. 7 at Okonjima Luxury Bush Lodge, roughly halfway between Windhoek and Etosha National Park in Namibia. The parents spent three nights in luxury, the girls slept in tents under A-frames. From there we rode north with the girls to Etosha, staying one night each at Namutoni and Okaukuejo rest camps.

The Namibian bush through which we traveled is dry and desolate. Time between rains is measured in years. At first it seems completely devoid of life. No problem. As the rolling oasis known as Big Blue rumbles through the dust, the sparkling humanity of its riders shines for miles. I believe there's enough girl power on that truck to bring rain to the desert.

Recounting everything we saw and learned would take days. I snapped enough photographs to prove that, but somehow those pictures don't say it all. You can ask your daughters about sundown poetry, about the San peoples' love arrows, about the shimmying skit. You may not want to know about Rohan, Lulu and Doug.

They can tell you about the number of cheetahs per hectare, how the Kalahari apple leaf tree got its name or that Helen Newmarch and Simba chips (chutney flavored of course) are among southern Africa's greatest contributions to the world. They can tell you about Namibia's underground aquifer, what it's like to be banished to Robben Island and how the nitrogen cycle works.
Rohan and entourage.

But in the end, all the details are dwarfed by the sheer awesomeness of the girls as a whole. Simply put, I learned you have the most amazing daughters the world has ever known. They are accompanied by four of the most amazing teachers on the planet. Together they form a complex machine whose sum is far greater than the individual parts. I am in awe of each of them.

At the end of the last night of the parents trip, we stood arm-in-arm in a circle in the dust by the campsite. The temperature had dropped from 97, but it was still quite warm. Nearby a jackal searched for scraps. Down by the water hole rhinos drank under the spotlight.

One by one we said what we thought was special about our time together. Many choked back tears, overcome by the weight of the moment. What I said was eminently forgettable. What I wish I said was something like this:

Thank you girls and thank you teachers for bringing your life and your love to this group. Thank you for resuscitating my faith in our future. Every girl everywhere should become so empowered. Let's work to make it so. 

It's 11 o'clock somewhere in Namibia and I've grown drowsy. Good night and good morning.
Sunset selfies.


  1. Thank you for your incredibly eloquent post that zapped me from my stale office into vibrant TTS life for a few minutes. I was so glad to hear about your amazing trip!

  2. Beautifully described John! I haven't stopped thinking about the trip since our return.

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  4. Yes, John, thank you, I just arrived home and could not wait to read the blog, once again I am entrenched, in the spirit of the students and my time there through your words of wisdom. I am spinning my prayer wheel for all of you.

  5. Hi John -- Thank you so much for your words. I'm Juliana's mom and I really appreciate hearing about the visit and the photos are wonderful. It's so special that you got to share the experience with the girls. Such a beautiful description of your visit. I can't wait to meet the Juliana that walks off the plane December 5 I suspect her life will have been changed from her time with all these wonderful girls, their teachers and the place

  6. Beautifully done…thank you
    Bird's Mom