TTS22 Parents and Friends,
It’s unbelievable to me that next week is Thanksgiving, and then the next week TTS22 will come to a close – where have the past three months flown? I wanted to share a passage from Alexandra Fuller’s memoir, Scribbling the Cat – a must read, along with her earlier book about growing up throughout southern Africa, Don’t Lets go to the Dogs Tonight. The girls and teachers often use this passage when preparing for their coming home. I wanted to share it with all you so that you might understand in part the challenge your daughters will face in crossing the ocean and returning home after their adventures in southern Africa. I also think this passage will help to explain to you why I’m so tardy in sending out my blog update from my time with the girls almost 2 weeks ago?! Yikes.
“It should not be physically possible to get from the banks of the Pepani River (read the waterholes of Etosha National Park) to Wyoming (or Montana or NC or New York or Illinois or . . .) in less than two days, because mentally and emotionally it is impossible. The shock is too much, the contrast too raw. We should sail or swim or walk from Africa, letting bits of her drop out of us, and gradually, in this way, assimilate the excesses and liberties of the States in tiny, incremental sips. . .”
Anyway, it does seem to take some time for your soul to catch up when make such an amazing journey. That’s what I think anyway.
Meanwhile, parents sit patiently at home waiting, eager for some word about your girls and perhaps better still, more photographs to prove they are healthy and happy. Well, I can assure you that your daughters are amazing and have formed a supportive community of strong young women. They laugh easily together, put effort into their school work, find time to revel in impromptu dance parties and are sensitive to each other’s moods and challenges. They move together as a herd and just as easily break off into small groups that form and reform depending on who has a free period or needs help on a math problem. You’d be proud to see how your daughters greet Papa and Benson each morning in Shona, and show their respect for their driver and cook through fixing a cup of tea or riding in the front cab of Big Blue when it’s their day to be chieflet. Your daughters are basking in their newfound friendships and soaking in all they can about the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met. The girls are aware that their time together is now short, and though this is bittersweet, they are positively present in each moment they share together all the while eagerly looking forward to being home with their families and friends.
I wanted to thank those of you who joined me on our TTS22 Campus Visit to Namibia to visit the group. It was amazing, due mainly to your sense of adventure and joy in all we saw and did together. For those who weren’t able to join us, thanks for your support and presence for your daughters from home. Your daughters missed you, though we tried to make these days special for all the girls. Brenna recounts some of the highlights below:
The Campus Visit started with a skit by the girls to share how to travel in southern Africa and ended with a skit from the parents [which I'm still trying to post and is hilarious]. After, the excitement wore off on the first day; we spent time learning about Okonjima’s Africats Foundation and then went for an evening game drive and stopped to watch the sun set. Days at Okonjima were filled with students and parents lending a hand cleaning up the brush from evasive plants, to learning about why cats are endangered in the first place. Peri and Megan especially loved the bush clearing; both felt accomplished at the end and enjoyed the physical aspect of the work. Every night we spent time with each other on the game drives looking for cats and animals, but finishing our days watching the sun sink beneath the red dirt gave the group a sense of community.
After Okonjima we travelled to Etosha National Park where parents were able to take their turn on Big Blue with their daughters for a morning game drive. Etosha-- http://www.etoshanationalpark.co.za/ -- is famous for its watering holes. During our last night, many viewed four rare black rhinos taking an evening bath as lions watched patiently, waiting their turn to drink. Here too, the group enjoyed time in the pool during our hot days. Juliana, Molly, Natalie, Sarah and Lindsay enjoyed a fun round of the whirlpool game in the kiddie pool which was perfect for a break in the middle of the day when the heat had reached its peaked – over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the animals we saw in Etosha matched the girls’ new totems, and they were quite excited. Anna is the ostrich and enjoyed greeting her family while driving through the park. We were very lucky to see black rhinos and a cheetah with three cubs, along with well over 10 lions and cubs along the way. Lucky us. Though we’re not sure it was luck or Ngwena (papa) and his expertise at finding animals.
The parent trip came to a close early in the morning with hugs to go around. Now we are sixteen students and four teachers with Papa and a Benson. We are back to our small group with more adventures ahead of us in the last few weeks.
Brenna, Mhofu the Eland
|Emilee enjoying the downhills|
|Waiting for the next run|
|Papa giving out totems|
Jennifer (Mbizi—the Zebra)
|Natalie, Nhathi the Cape Buffalo|
|Lindsay, Nzoli the Elephant|
|Juliana, Mbada the Leopard|
|Sarah, Nhoro the Kudu|
|Megan, Chitszre the Honey Badger|
|Katherine, Ngamo the Gemsbok|
|Ariela & Aunge, Chipembere the Rhinoceros|
|Anna (Bird), Mhou the Ostrich|
|Hannah, Twiza the giraffe & Peri, Mhara the impala|
|Anne, Mhumhi the Wild Dog|
|Mara, Shumba the Lion|
|Eleanor, Tsoko the Monkey|
|Maeve & Papa, Ngwena the Crocodile|
|Emilee, Haka the Pangolin|
|Brenna, Mhofu, the Eland|
|Molly, Dendera the Ground Hornbill|
|Sylvia, Hwata the Secretary Bird|
|Sarah, Hungwe, the Fish Eagle|
|Heather, Chapungue, the Bateleur Eagle|