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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Greetings Traveling School Friends and Family!

As many of you are preparing to return to school and getting ready for fall colors, this semester's Traveling School students are already into their first week of classes. But it is not just about being in class. We are in class in ZAMBIA!

The flight over was uneventful but long, as you can imagine. Even with the few delays, the students were remarkably upbeat and patient with the whole process. One could even go so far as to say the flight itself was a great time for people to begin getting to know each other.

After an overnight layover in Johannesburg, we returned to the airport to complete the journey to Zambia. Although, it must be said that a number of students hesitated at the thought of leaving the incredible buffet breakfast served at the airport hotel! Trays of beautiful fruit, sliced cheeses and meats, eggs as you like, the works.

Group travel during these first few weeks as the students are learning to work together means that we move slowly and carefully, paying special attention to our surroundings and to one another. It is an important process, one we take seriously. That does not mean however that we cannot have fun. For example, before our long flight overseas Ariane and Jen led a wonderful impromptu stretching class right there in the gate. There is no doubt it helped all of us deal with the long hours on the plane.

Once in Livingstone, we caught up with the bus sent over by the hostel to retrieve us. It turns out there was one other fellow catching a ride to the hostel with us. As I chatted with David on the drive through town, I began thinking about the possibility of inviting him to address our students in the first of many experiential education opportunities. It turns out David was coming to Livingstone to address a coalition of Southern African copper mine managers regarding environmentally sustainable mining practices. He was very excited for his presentation because, if implemented, his project could not only help the environment, but it could also provide jobs and clean up the pollution problems facing many regions of Southern Africa.

This is the definitive “Aha!” moment of the Traveling School. One of my co-teachers, as we discussed it later, wondered aloud about the chances of meeting a person like that. I responded that the chances are in fact quite high. There are people all over Africa doing incredible things for their communities and for the planet and the Traveling School is like a magnet, drawing those people in. I have no doubt that David is but the first of many creative, intelligent, motivated people we will meet on the way.

Two nights later, before we had even begun official classes, David addressed our students. He talked about the aforementioned project as well as several others he has sponsored over the years. I was surprised at the caliber and quality of the questions the students posed. It was an outstanding conversation. Economics, culture, industry, environmentalism.

Later, David pulled me aside to express how pleased and inspired he was by our students. I think the Traveling School has a new cheerleader!

Over the next few days, we took some rest time to get our energies back up and to continue working through our orientation materials. On Sunday afternoon, we volunteered at the Lubasi Orphanage here in Livingstone. Before heading over we had a conversation about what to expect and how to handle things if it begins to feel too intense, namely grab one of the teachers and take a break. I know that these experiences can be challenging and would like for everyone to feel supported.

The conversation ended up being unnecessary. Every single girl jumped right in. Whether it was walking through the garden hand-in-hand with the children or playing netball or learning some of their local childhood games, our students showed incredible bravery and tender heart. I was floored. And yet, I had a sense it would go just like that: courage and compassion. That night at dinner, everyone was buzzing, telling stories about the day and their new friends. If any of you are interested in checking out Lubasi Orphanage, go to It is a beautiful place for children without safe homes that depends on the local community for funding.

Yesterday was our first full day of classes. Yay! My favorite part! Again, everyone seems to be diving in. This morning for P.E., we went running at the Livingstone Country Club Golf Course, a bright red sunrise bursting through the trees. Not a bad way to start the day.

After a few classes this morning, the students and other teachers departed for Victoria Falls. Students in the Natural Science course will do their first field journal entries and students in Travel Journalism will begin working with their digital cameras on landscape portraits. I can't wait to see what they come up with.

These young women are bright, funny, adventurous, and compassionate explorers. What a great start for everyone!

More soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

News from Zambia

Some notes from Aunge:

On Friday, the girls loved the first day of classes. I think I heard every girl say how excited they are for classes this semester. Always a good feeling out here while we start up the academics!

We had our first town time in mentor groups on Saturday - pretty successful and the girls are excited for more time.  We did a browse through the market to see the goods before going to the ATM for a no pressure shopping experience [and easier on the pocketbooks too!]

We visited the local orphanage on Sunday, and the girls didn't hesitate with interactions.  They were quickly playing basketball, braiding hair (or rather having their hair braided), or playing fun games with the kids.  The TTS girls laughed contagiously and weren’t fazed by the language barrier.  Many games were demonstrated with a few words while the kids chattered away in Tonga and Lozi.  Some of our girls were treated to a fashion show by some of the older girls at the orphanage. Shannon remarked, “The orphanage yesterday was wonderful –brave, lovely young women in this group.”

A trip to incredible Victoria Falls was slated from Monday, and then Wednesday and Thursday will be filled with classes and volunteering with African Impact. 

Look for a blog update with more details from the teachers in the very near future!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodbye Girls!

It was a privilege to be able to go to DC and meet the the teachers, parents and other girls traveling. I was left feeling that not only was my daughter in capable hands but that she was in the company of awesome women teachers and a great group of young women. I left DC feeling comforted and excited by the opportunities ahead for TTS20. Looking forward to the blog posts from Africa!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who’s Who in the TTS Office?

We know that doing business electronically and on the phone can be confusing, especially if the people in your office have similar names like: Gennifre, Jennifer, Jim and Jen – yikes! So, now that the paperwork is finished, and before things get too far along and you’re embarrassed to ask who is who, we thought we might re-introduce ourselves (with photos) so you might know who you’re talking to or who to contact at TTS. Let’s  start with the administrative staff in Bozeman, MT.

Jennifer Royall: Jennifer is the Program Coordinator and Curriculum Director. She will be the primary parent and group contact once your daughters are overseas. Most of you have already spoken with Jennifer during the Parent Q & A or during the enrollment process. She has a weekly phone date scheduled with the Academic Program Director, Aunge Thomas, keeping her in regular contact with the group overseas.  Jennifer will oversee the TTS20 blog, send out mentor comments, and contact parents in the event there are any doctor visits or medical, academic, social or emotional concerns. Jennifer hopes to periodically check-in with each student’s parents by phone to see how everyone is faring as the semester progresses. Jennifer is readily accessible via email at, on the office phone or on her cell phone: 406-581-7479.

Gennifre Hartman: Gennifre is the Executive Director and Principal of The Traveling School; she has been the one answering most of your questions as you prepared your daughters for the semester in Africa and hosted the TTS20 Webinar. Gennifre was with the teachers in Washington, DC and so many of you met her there as well. She will be guiding the Parent and Friend Adventure to Rocktail Beach Camp, South Africa in November– we hope you can join her! And though she is transitioning out of the “go to” role for TTS20, she is always available to chat with you about your daughter and her experience in South-East Africa. She can be reached via email at and on the office phone or via her cell phone at: 406-579-3427.

Jim Hammer: Jim is TTS’s Vice-Principal and Admissions Director. Jim is the person in the Bozeman office if you have questions about academic credit, future semesters, SATs, or college planning. He registered all students for their TTS classes and will oversee any student course changes by contacting parents and home high school counselors for prior approval.  Jim also oversees midterm and final transcripts. Jim is available at the TTS office from 9am – 1pm M-F or via email at:

Price Klaas: Price is our Associate Director of Admissions and Business Manager. She has invoiced families for tuition and fees, and helped Jim monitor student paperwork during the enrollment process. She will continue to oversee tuition management during the semester. Direct any financial inquiries to Price at the TTS office or via email at .

If you’re not sure who to contact, please email:  or call our office phone: 406-586-3096 or our toll free number: 888-251-7387 to leave a message for any or all four of us.

TTS Administrative Team

Girls are in Zambia!

Dear Parents and Friends,

After 21 hours (including flight delays) to South Africa, then an undoubtedly feverish sleep, the girls moved on to Zambia in the wee hours of your own nightly slumber. We have heard from the teachers that the group has arrived at the semester's starting point overseas. The group is rightfully exhausted. When I heard from Shannon, the girls were cooling off in the accommodation's pool, "The girls just jumped into the pool and the campground is ringing with girl screams. Spirits are higher than I can believe.  Yes, tired.  But buzzing.  Know what I mean?"

Later tonight the group will enjoy an early dinner, take some time for orientation and group-bonding activities, and most likely head off to bed before 9pm. This time travel business is exhausting! So, now that you know the group has made it safely to our initial international destination, you can finally take a deep breath and relax! You deserve a round of applause. This was no small undertaking getting your daughters ready for their semester overseas! Now it's time to sit back and enjoy their adventures from afar.

Thanks for all you've done and will continue to do to support your daughters during this experience.

More soon,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pictures from DC!

Thanks to all of the parents who were able to make it to DC to join us for the evening of preparation and getting to know each other. The girls are still in the air en route to Africa... and here are some pictures from the last few days!

Thank you for sharing your daughters with us - the adventure has finally started!

All the best,
The Traveling School (in Bozeman and with your girls and TTS20)

To see and/ or upload additional photos from DC, please go to our TTS20 shared photos website at Shutterfly:

Hello to Brooklyn.
We are so proud of you to take this wonderful adventure.
Looking forward to hear and see pictures of what it is like over there.
We Love you a lot :)

Sandra and Dave Newcomb

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Watch This!

Hi ladies-

As we are all looking forward to meeting each other in DC, I'd love for you to take 15 minutes and watch this news piece from 60 minutes. We have been invited to visit this park during our semester. Aunge's sister works with Gregory Carr and his foundation, which sponsors this park and contributes to the restoration of the area. In addition to visiting the Park, we are exploring the possibility of having our TTS20 group participate in Environmental Educational activities with the Community Education Centre.

A video to introduce to you Gorongosa National Park

After watching the video, you'll understand how special this highlight will be as part of our journey.

How exciting!

All the best,
Gennifre & the Traveling School

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why is this blog private?

You’ll note that this blog is restricted to blog authors. That means that no one else can read or post on it during the semester. Why?

The reason is simple: safety. We care deeply about the girls and their adventure. We want to live vicariously through all of their escapades.  It is wonderful to read about Algebra midterms under the shade of a mango tree, or about a surf lesson that went awry. And we want to enjoy these stories with the girls and share in their adventures.

But, we don’t want the world to share in their adventures, just yet. The world is a big place – and with the online world, it is even bigger.  So, you’ll notice that we err on the side of caution with The Traveling School. We write about general regions and areas. We don’t include specifics. Why? Because the story is just as strong without knowing the exact location of the event.

And, we ask that you do the same to protect our girls and their adventure during the semester. If TTS20 is doing a service project with Ninos Elementrary Escola in Vilanculus, Mozambique during the third week of November – we ask that you share that she is on the coast of Mozambique doing service. Of course, you can always offer specifics to your relatives and friends in personal emails – we just request that you are aware of omitting specifics for all social media. You’ll notice that the girls won’t “tag” each other in photos during the semester, for the same reasons.

We teach the girls to use their status updates to promote social change and to affect their worlds. We can all do this during the semester. Please – talk about The Traveling School and encourage people to visit our website. Please – talk about the issues the girls will be studying this semester, including malaria, human rights, and the happiness index. Please – connect with other people in the TTS world to better understand how this all works. And, please – keep specific locations off the radar.

After the semester, this all becomes public and we open the blog for everyone to see. But, during the semester, let’s give the girls their own adventure which is reserved just for them!  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Packing Panic!

Hi all-
We’ve talked with several of you this morning – and it seems that a lot of you spent the weekend trying to figure out how to cram a lot of stuff into a floppy duffle. Before you give up – here are a few suggestions to help you get your gear in your luggage – and get you to DC to meet us in a few weeks!

First – check your duffle size. Did you buy one that is big enough?

One large duffle bag:  We suggest a large duffle bag, between 4,500 - 5,000 cubic inches. It is helpful if the duffle bag has duffle-style handles and haul-handles on each end. This will make it easier for loading and unloading from the truck. Also, it is helpful if the duffle bag has shoulder straps which can be used for carrying the bag for short distances as a backpack. Double-zippers allow you to lock your possessions.  The duffle bag should be constructed of water- and abrasion resistant fabric to withstand the abuse of travel. Please do NOT bring one with wheels or a telescoping handle.

Second – check the weight of your bag

As you can imagine, we are used to flying with a lot of luggage. When our teachers leave Bozeman, we all have multiple duffle bags, both personal and for group gear. We arrive at the airport well in advance of our flights and weigh bags, shuffle items, and eliminate last-minute items before getting on the plane. We also mail boxes to the hotel well in advance. So, we are very familiar with the packing list and the luggage restrictions.

 Checked Baggage for Economy flights:

·         First checked bag: $25 when paid at the airport / $20 when pre-paid using EasyCheck-in Online at within 24 hours of your flight

·         Second checked bag: $35 when paid at the airport / $30 when pre-paid using EasyCheck-in Online at within 24 hours of your flight

·         Maximum Weight: 50 lb/23 kg total

·         Maximum Size: 62 linear inches/158 cm

 Overweight Baggage Fees

·         Fee for any bag weighing 51-99 lb for economy passengers: $100 per bag

·         Bags weighing more than 100 lb/45 kg will not be accepted. If a bag is both oversize and overweight, passengers will be charged both fees.

 Oversize Baggage Fees

·         Fee for any bag between 63-115 linear inches: $100 per bag

·         Bags with a single dimension more than 62 inches, or overall dimensions exceeding 115 linear inches will not be accepted. If a bag is both oversize and overweight, passengers will be charged both fees.

 Specific Traveling School Suggestions

·         Put your Crazy Creek/ camp chair outside of your duffle, and strap it on the outside. When you check-in at the airlines, request a plastic bag for the outside of your bag.

·         Wear your hiking shoes.

·         Carry-on your jacket.

·         The place where girls usually go over is in the toiletries department. Remember that you can re-supply during the whole semester – there are grocery stores, markets, and drug stores where you can buy a second tube of toothpaste or a new bottle of shampoo.

·         Ensure your sleeping bag is in a compression sack – and cinch it down tightly! If you want to watch someone compress their bag – Teton Sports has a good how-to video:

·         And, make sure you have rolled your T-shirts, and packed as many items as possible in other bags. This video promotes Eagle Creek, and while some of the Eagle Creek products work well for us (the packet folders do not), the video has some good suggestions about utilizing your space well:

Packing Duffle Bags and Travel Packs – A few more words of advice…

Soft sided duffles are great for expanding around a load, but they are usually one big compartment that gets packed in one position and carried in another. Things tend to move around inside, and the larger the bag, the more likely it will be that smaller items will become lost in the pile. And, as you are living out of this bag, you want to ensure that you don’t dump the whole thing upside down in your tent every time you are looking for your math homework! Get organized!

As I mentioned above, roll your clothes into cylinders when you pack. That isn't the most wrinkle-free method ever devised, but wrinkles are really part of life at The Traveling School. The next trick is to make gravity work for you to keep everything in place. Pack heavier items - like shoes - at the bottom of the duffle (the bottom when it is being carried). Remember to label your bag on the inside, as well as on the exterior luggage tag, and sew on your Traveling School patch!

 And, we are going to help you learn how to organize and pack your bag – so just concentrate on getting it to DC, and we’ll help you from there!
If you are still stuck…

Text me a picture of your bag and your pile of stuff - I’ll see if I can help!

 Good luck!

Gennifre and The Traveling School