TTS20 on Safari

Monday, October 29, 2012

TTS Tweets—Week 8, TTS20

Twitter Poetry: The Literature and Composition class assignment came from this idea in The New York Times, write a poem in 140 characters. Here, every word should be essential and powerful.

Abby: Vast ocean crossed, people unlike myself, kissed by the sun for generations, opal sunset, sapphire night scape, best friends made, Mofu connected, all to be remembered, nine weeks gone.

McKinley: French class watching elephants. Yoga on the beach. Lit near Zebras. Math on the Moz-Zam border. #TIA #TTSinAfricatonight #howsclassintheus?

Payton: 14 girls all traveling together around south-east Africa. Some might think its a cat-fight every night but our experience is full of LOL's and F-U-N's.

Francesca: Lions, elephants, hippos. Literature of wars, rejoice and revolution. Walking through vines of lush, shae buttered sand and teal waves. Africa.

Megan S.: An adventure full of blazing sun and savanna, diverse wildlife, Mozambican coastline, meeting and learning from history rich locals all while building friendships in Africa!

Brooklyn: Sun-kissed skin, laughing eyes and tired bodies. Sometimes I forget I'm in school, but other times I forget I'm in Africa. Everyday is new.

Megan L:  Angst, Ups and downs, Fire and ice, Love of life, exploring passions, a community, a family, a unity, bone chilling experience only once lived, long days, smiles and laughter, crazy spontaneous people, TTS, 2012

Alexandra: Africa is... excitement, sweat, bug bites, safaris, animals, adventures, oceans, diving, children, tears, laughter, homesickness, and Sisterhood.

Lily: We have seen smiles, all “Lion King” characters, and cool turquoise swells. We have felt red dust, heat, and humidity. We have been challenged with the world as our playground # TIA.

More Academic Updates – Week 10

Malaria Day
Anopheles Mosquito
TTS20 completed the first ever TTS malaria awareness day on October 12.  We devoted a day of classes to the overall impact of malaria in Africa specifically with an understanding to the global effect of the disease.  We re-visited our day at the Akros center in Lusaka and refreshed our understanding of the little anopheles mosquito who is the only mosquito to carry the malaria parasite and potentially transfer it to humans through one small bite.  We studied the life cycle of the disease in the human body with skits and moved into preventative measures to help squelch the disease.  Before having a round table discussion, each member of TTS20 studied malaria through different personalities – Melinda Gates, a village elder, a pharmaceutical rep from the US, a Mozambican doctor and a mother coping with the loss of her young one from malaria- to gain perspective on the disease and efforts to eradicate it.  Throughout the day, we focused on the economic pitfalls of the disease, the international aid effort, the differences in education and proximity to reliable heath care.  Overall, it was a stimulating day of interactive classes bringing awareness to the second deadliest disease in Africa.

Algebra 2
With the midterm exam behind them, the Algebra 2 students continued their studies working with variables and inequalities.  Unit 2 concluded with graphical transformations and the writing of equations using function notation.  The class enjoyed holding study sessions alongside the infinity pool, as well as within the infamous Kruger National Park.  With the semester flying by, students will continue to study hard as they begin working on matrices and solving for variables using multiple equations.

Math Concepts
Be careful parents, the math concepts class just completed their unit of study on credit cards and the students are ready to fill out the applications!  The Game of Life continued with each student selecting the best type of bank accounts and credit cards for her character with a reflection on why those accounts would best benefit the character's lifestyle.  Following the character analysis, students completed a self-reflection deciding which types of accounts they would like to have in the future and why.  In order to fill those new accounts, the students have begun creating resumes and cover letters they can use when applying for a future job at home.  Interviewing skills, as well as mock interviews will be completed in the coming week, concluding the current unit of study.  The students are eager to face the job market with poise and confidence.

Travel Journalism
The rumble of clicking cameras filled big blue as we witnessed picture perfect scenes in Kruger - a lioness and her cubs devouring an impala, a leopard peeking through the long savannah grasslands and elephants protecting their young trumpeting and charging the truck.

The journalism girls focused and re-focused their cameras in attempts to capture the scenes with the best light and exposure.  From capturing the big five to the tiniest water droplets balancing on delicate leaves, these girls are becoming expert photographers and are catching photographic subjects at the perfect moments.  The students continue to capture their images  in writing and create captions to accompany a scene to draw the viewer in.  The young journalists are also studiously writing their second article, attempting to highlight their experiences in southeast Africa  with strong descriptions and wording to illustrate their personal TTS moments.  The class is now a tight-knit community willing to share written work and help one another brainstorm and edit one another's work.

Precalculus is now a fully interactive class with students often chiming in to explain concepts and offer shortcuts and hints.  They ask questions and offer ideas actively.  Throughout chapter two the students worked hard to understand polynomial behavior and how different exponents change the shape of the graph.  It isn't uncommon to see Precalculus students doing the polynomial dance to visualize graphs.  These motivated students are working hard to master all concepts in a timely fashion while enjoying the comfort of asking questions and dissecting problem types without hesitation.

Global Studies
The class is currently finishing their studies on Human Rights and will be moving into discussions about refugees and civil and political rights.  The students have had in depth debates about human rights and are shocked to learn about the disparities of wealth, education and living standards throughout the world.  It is a powerful subject and has opened many students awareness to international job prospects and volunteer opportunities.  In small groups, the students recently presented campaigns addressing human rights issues Mozambique recently struggled with.  In addition, students completed artistic pieces showing their most impactful moment thus far in Africa.  Scenes varied from contrasting western influences to scraps of trash to vivid scenes of tears and struggle portraying our travels and the reflections each of us experiences while becoming more mindful global citizens.

Following their underwater adventures with SCUBA diving, the students conquered midterms by completing a research paper on an experiential learning moment from this semester.  Topics ranged from animal poaching in Gorongosa National Park to several topics related to aquatic ecosystems and the fishing industry.  The passion and natural curiosity for learning of the students in this class is simply unbelievable!  As students began learning about infectious disease, discussions centered around the diseases facing Africa and how limited resources have led to incredible health statistics.  Students read and discussed articles on the widespread impact of malaria on both the economy as well as in social health.  Following the unit on infectious diseases the class revisited ecosystems at Kruger National Park. Science journal entries included observations on lion prides, cheetahs, leopards, and impala.  After reviewing current population counts of the park the class realized how unbelievably lucky they were to see each of the Big 5 two days in a row.  As the class heads back to the beach, the oceanography unit will begin with reports on turtles, whale sharks and the local flora and fauna.

Academic Updates from South Africa

The students of TTS20's Modern History and Contemporary African Politics Course have been extremely busy during the month of October. The course has focused on Mozambique and the country's tumultuous past. Beginning with precolonial societies, the students have examined the impacts of European contact and colonial structures in Mozambique. From there, the students studied the Mozambican people's move towards independence and the challenges Mozambique faced post-independence. In studying the challenges, students analyzed how climate catastrophes, policies of neighboring countries, and the global economy can affect a country's internal events. After this, the students devoted their attention to the Renamo-Frelimo conflict that ran rampant across Mozambique for the majority of the last 30 years. Investigating the war and its atrocities gave students greater insight into South Africa's  power, how interconnected the nations of southern Africa are, and the incredible strides the country has made towards a stable democracy in the last 10 years. The class has had lessons beach side and in city centers and has considered the history of Mozambique through the lenses of citizens, political figureheads and even built environments. While in the capitol, Maputo, the class went on a walking tour of some of the city's major monuments and landmarks. Afterwards, each student designed a monument that she would like to see erected to commemorate a portion of the country's history that had not yet been honored, along with a press release announcing the monument's unveiling. If it were up to me, every single monument would be built on one of Maputo's street corners! Now that we are in South Africa, the students have begun their final unit, starting with this country's precolonial history.

Literature & Composition
The students of TTS20's African Literature and Composition class have spent the last few weeks experimenting with writing styles and structures as well as exploring literary themes relevant to Mozambique's history. The class finished Mia Cuoto's Sleepwalking Land,,  a novel that uses magical realism to depict the wars and natural disasters Mozambique faced in the last 30 years in a new light. While reading the novel, students not only became practiced at interpreting magical realism, but also identified stylistic techniques to use in their own magical realism pieces. The students crafted a variety of essays, some drawing on personal experiences, others recasting a historical event in magical realism style, and others writing an original story. Their pieces are fantastic and a testament to the students' willingness to take personal risks in their writing, both in choice of topic and use of style. In addition to this large work, the students have had a series of poetry workshops, ranging from twitter and micro-poetry to the exquisite corpse and other forms of surrealist poetry. Here too, it has been wonderful to see the students' enthusiasm for writing experimentally and to hear them ask "When do we get to play poetry games again??". The answer is, of course, when we next have Lit Class!  

PE & iLife
TTS20's PE class could not feel luckier--where else does one get to SCUBA, snorkel, and surf in PE class?? As TTS20 was traveling along Mozambique's coastline for most of October, that is where PE classes took place. A week of SCUBA lessons and dives was both a physical and mental challenge for students--a great deal of self-discipline and attention to detail is required to earn one's SCUBA certification. Those students who did not finish the certification had the opportunity to go on an ocean safari, swimming and snorkeling for an entire day, sometimes only a few feet from a pod of dolphins! In addition to SCUBA diving and snorkeling, students had morning runs and yoga practices on the beach. The following week, all of the students had the chance to practice their balance and agility skills while surfing--almost everyone was able to get up on the board!
TTS20 Surf class
This month also marked the beginning of our student-led workouts. Thus far we have had an ocean side scavenger hunt, a strength training and plyometrics session, and an Irish dance class--who said gym class couldn't be fun? iLife workshops have focused on the challenges faced living independently, whether here at TTS, at home in the United States, or in the future in college. Topics included coping mechanisms for stress, steps for conflict resolution, and how to establish personal identity within a group setting. Class time is devoted to each of these and the students are then encouraged to use the new skills learned on a daily basis and check in with their mentors regarding their individual progress.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pictures from Zambia and Mozambique

Wanna see some pictures?

Shannon brought one of Aunge's memory chips back to the office with her - and these photos are amazing! Please enjoy the smiles on your girls' faces and share these with your friends and family :)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Update from Aunge

We had a great day in Maputo today- we did a tour of the monuments and learned about revolutionary history in a modern city before enjoying some lunch in the botanical gardens.  Now the girls are busy designing their own commemorative monument, choosing who they want to remember as a leader in the complicated Mozambican history.  They will also write a press release for their monuments announcing the new place and explaining its significance in the Maputo skyline.

On the way into town, the US Embassy in Maputo finally got back to us, and we arranged an afternoon visit to the cultural education center of the embassy with a woman named Marrit.  Interestingly, her daughter goes to the American School we visited last semester, so we chatted about her school life and how it was to go to school overseas.  Marrit had planned to give us a quick presentation and show us around - but in true African style, her schedule was rearranged. She was in charge of teaching English club while we were there.  It worked out splendidly - the girls talked with a group of about 30 Mozambique students ages 20 -30 about cultural differences, dances, food and what each one appreciates about Africa and travel.  Then we had a dance lesson from one of the young men who had just returned from a Lindy Hop course in Sweden   Do you know the Lindy Hop?  It was popular in the States in the 20s - 40s, a little jitterbug and swing combo.  Pretty funny scene really.  Somewhat middle school dance style with girls on one side and boys on the other, but we all embraced it and finally practiced a few steps.  Brooklyn and her partner were naturals!  It was fun for the group to see a sassy dance from the States and remember we too used to have dances with specific steps and styles as opposed to the current teenage trends.  (all insights from the girls on the truck ride back home)

Africa's Big Five
 Spirits are high as we prepare to head to South Africa and go on some game drives over the next few days.  The girls just received their totems from Ngwenya and are ready to find themselves out in the wild. (For more on Shona totems: We have various birds, members of the Big 5, and even a few unique spirit animals in the bunch!  It will also be a new perspective for game driving and national parks in general as we tour through Kruger National Park in big blue.  We will be sitting high above all other cars and will be able to spot animals farther into the bush than most other cars.  Imagine watching a rhino munch on grasses with a baby nearby while the car next to us has no idea the rhinos are there.  Plus, with 16 pairs of eyes in one vehicle, we are bound to spot some greatness.

Mozambique has been a special place - we climbed mountains, met local conversation legends, dove beneath turquoise waters, nestled our toes in butterscotch-colored sand, rejuvenated in the humidity and experienced the first big rains.  We met fantastic people who wanted to share nothing more than a smile and a handshake.  We met others who spent hours sharing knowledge with our group as if we were family.  The group became a family and learned the power of communication and support.

Our best to all of you back at home,

Mozambique Musings

Twitter Poems from some Lit & Comp students:

Waking up to pristine coastline crystal clear and bright teal everyday for a month in Mozambique was out of control, the environment here is amazing and the attitude of people here are what I want to aspire to, only in Africa. ~Abby

Learning to surf, trying to scuba, and swimming with dolphins, are all once in a life time opportunities  but we experienced them all within two weeks! - McKinley

Listening to the waves crash along the coast at night, then waking up to run on the beach and scuba dive in the water. ~~Payton

Scuba Diving and surfing along miles of coastline; then, classes and malaria day in the pouring rain!!!! Mozambique has been a water-world of unforgettable experiences. -Alexandra

Mozambique was full of sunshine, warm coastline and friendly people all while we became scuba certified, shopped in colorful markets, and learned how to surf! - Megan S.

Fell asleep to the sound of the rhythmic waves of the Indian Ocean, embarked on an underwater fantasy, shopped in vibrant markets in search of the perfect pants and Mozambique! - Lily

Coming to the pristine coasts of Barra Mozambique and becoming a certified scuba diver is easily my favorite part of our ongoing African adventure. Learning, growing and exploring in this sun covered, culture rich country is now a something I could not imagine living without. -Kelly

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Vasco De Gama Would See Today

Recently we visited a city in Mozambique called Inhambane.  The city was discovered in 1498 by a Portuguese man, Vasco De Gama. He named the city Tara de Boa Jenta, land of the gentle people.  Later, it was a port used for trading by the Portuguese; however, when the Portuguese found the locals were also trading with the Dutch, the locals were massacred. In addition during the 17th and 18th century it was the first city in Mozambique to begin selling enslaved people. The following is a short piece I wrote during Travel Journalism when asked to write from Gama's perspective in modern day.  We did this piece following a historical walking tour while sitting in a central garden on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

As I return I am troubled by what I see. I see a town and a culture of people who's gentleness, on the surface, seems to have disappeared.  However, these people are not to blame, my Portuguese descendants diluted their innocence with acts of force and violence.  I am ashamed, I paved the way to masking the gentle hearts of the locals who first greeted me with kindness enthusiasm.  Yet, I believe if we look past the Portuguese masks of  western buildings, streets, and values and clean off the blood and scars, we will find the good, gentle people I once knew are waiting to be rediscovered.

Alex, Junior, Montana, soon to be Oregon

African Impact Memory

What does a name mean? What judgments can a person make, or see through the first thing you tell them about yourself? A name that's shorter, am I giving less away? I have realized the impact of a name today. What I tell everyone first, what they will ultimately remember and grasp about me. This is the first thing a person I meet here will ever here me say, what does my voice sound like? A twenty year old  friend and local Mozambican that I met while volunteering at a local orphanage in Vilankulos named Zacharias who I had simply introduced myself to came to me later in the day and asked, “What is your real name?, what does it mean?”. I tell him Abigail, figuring he wasn't satisfied by Abby as many people I meet here aren't. “Ah, Abigail," he says, “ that is a beautiful name; you should always tell it to others as you have just told it to me." He asks again what it means and I reply, “Sacred daughter."
"Your father must love you," he simply answers. Instantly I realize the weight my name holds; what I can portray and embody with a simple name, a small chat, and a realization of the encompassing strength my name ultimately holds when names are  the only breach, connection, from me to them. Abigail can resonate, it passes through the crevices of language and it is spoken.

Abby, Junior, Pennsylvania

The Key

Background: Every day in the beginning of Lit class, we are assigned a random topic to write about in our journals – here's a peak into mine!

Within a key is mountains of mystery stretching beyond colliding horizons. A key has the ability to unlock the secrets, passageways and opportunities that are hidden in a castle far, far away. They allow us to suit up in shining armor and go on a mighty quest to discover the hidden treasure within ourselves. A key gives us the strength to unleash our fears, and desires and face them head on. They unlock the door to the cobble stone road leading to a fork where we must choose which direction to follow. But that is not all the power that a key has. A key can ignite the vessel that will take us to a place where we have stowed our precious memories in fear of the emotions they may evoke. They give us the permission to let those emotions roam wild on a familiar path lined with cherry blossom trees.
We all have unique keys. It can be a friend or a family member, or whoever, or whatever allows us to open up and expose our full spectrum. So you see, a key can be any shape and can lead us down any path. So I am now asking you – what is your key, and where is it leading you?

Lily, Junior, Maine

A Magical Realism Riddle

Background: This paragraph is one I wrote while learning and reading about magical realism, real objects or things in life that can be transformed into stories of descriptions, making these simple things come to life and have meaning. This excerpt is about an object we take for granted everyday have significance and soul.

Parents: Guess what this object is.

The frail, wrinkled man's hands fell to a tremble once his creation was completed.  His olive, oval eyes glowed, absorbing the reflections of innovation. But what was this creation? Some cylindered stick? Some mixed up concentrated chemicals? No, his creation kept a gift inside of its aligned, sleek finger that led, composed, and symphonized the real, unreal, and magics. It was pride's blood, the thermal tears of the skies. This potion was drunk by those who intoxicated themselves in their emergence, who knew exactly where they stood, and could tell anyone. It captured purpose from the depths of the darkest holes, the fiercest currents, and the greatest tales. This was the prophecy of memory, the thump of revelations, and the bridge to permanence. It was the home for words, where they could curl in and out of their tenses, stretch their legs, and twist their meanings. Or was this creation a goblin that droughts and contorts your reality, shriveling your conscience? Was it the last breaths of air before drowning into the  land of literature? Could it be the the merciless truths we cover our influenced eyes from? This potion had flooded, liquefied  and stained the trenches of papered pores. The old man looked up at his thoughts swarming over him. His creation was to open new doors of new stories without a voice, without sound. He licked his cracked lips, exhaled a stagnant heap of air, and began to tell.

Francesca, Senior, California

Answer: A pen.

The (sometimes challenging) Art of Beach Shopping

Shopping Shopping Shopping! This week we have been at the Barra Resort and we have had some of the best beach shopping yet. So how a beach shop goes is you first need to have small bills tucked into your third pocket easily accessible. Next, you simply plop down right by the waters edge in the warm sun and wait about five to ten minutes. There you will have a small local Neimen Marcus surrounding you. With the local men who are now your personal shoppers and go to guys for a different sizes you have a massive selection of clothing. Once you have sat down, the fun begins. You start sifting through many bright patterned pants, shorts, and shirts that are made by the grandmothers of the men who are selling them. 
So you have chosen the pair of pants that you want to buy and now comes the hard part: the bartering. The key to this is to start with a price that is lower than what you are going to spend. This way you can go up from there and still not spend more that you want. To get a really good price takes some time so we are all masters  at planning our time accordingly. Pants usually start at 250 meticais,

$250 Meticais
which is so ridiculous considering the fact that is about 8 dollars when they are worth about 2. You need to exaggerate and say, “No way how are you going to charge me that much? I am a student and don’t have that much money.” This usually works or you can go down to the root of, "No no no! I got a very similar pair of pants for 100 from another guy." Using these tactics, you can get a price that is more work for what you are getting. If the situation is not going well, then you simply start up a conversation which will go on for a while and is usually really interesting. So now you have created this friendship which is genuine, and he is really OK with selling you the pants for 150. Then you agree, hand him the money, and he gives you a hard shake and sometimes, if he really liked doing business with you, he gives you something for free. As the sale is complete the instantaneous Neimans starts to pack up and you are left with the most vibrant pair of pants.

Jane, Senior, Colorado

Poetic Response to Sleepwalking Land

October 6, 2012
This is a poem that I wrote in African Literature class, pertaining to the novel 'Sleepwalking Land'. It is about the Civil War that occurred in Mozambique during the 1990s.

War among ashes and dust,
Dirty colors on the wing.
The sky,
An apprenticeship of death.
Our eyes,
Alone of all distances.
A burnt-out pillage,
Shedding its flowers,
On the other side of nowhere.
Contaminated a quiet haven.
A lost vestige,
To an abandoned country.

Megan S., Senior, Oregon


Sunday brought our welcome arrival to Barra and BEDS. I don't think anyone has been that happy to see  a bed with a mattress after four plus weeks in tents. After a peaceful night sleep in our new quarters, we woke up to our first day of diving classes- a short five minute walk down the white sand beaches to the Dive center. Our first class consisted of entertaining but slightly cheesy instructional videos and pool training.  After splitting into two groups we learned how to set up our equipment, use our regulators, clear masks, and equalize our ears along with other emergency procedures. After an intense hour and a half underwater, everyone made a mad dash to the bathroom creating a hectic frenzy around the one toilet and huddled in groups of three in the two hot showers.  Eleven girls in two showers seems pretty normal now.

 Dive Master Jane spent the afternoon chatting with locals, shopping, and relaxing.  She also offered encouraging words as we learned to clear our masks underwater.

The following morning we switched lodges and were amazed with our luck of “a penthouse” our enduring name for our taste of luxury.  We all ran though the new abode marveling at the beds, tiled floors, personal infinity pool, AC, bathtubs, cable TV, along icemaker. :)

Today we embarked on our first open water dive. The first group went out on the boat pushing it from the sandy beach to the water. A short 1 km boat ride later brought us to our dive site. “1, 2, 3, GO!” and eight of us along with our three instructors fell backwards into the deep blue water. I, unfortunately had a slight panic attack not being able to see the bottom, and feeling the first twinge of pressure in my ears. I swam back up bawling and hyperventilating so the dive instructor felt the need to drag me back to the boat rescue style. I sat on the boat with a slight blow to my pride, but otherwise unscathed waiting for the others to finish their dive. After about ten minutes McKinley also surfaced due to equalization issues with an awful headache from the pressure. We waited with Jen and the boat captain until the rest of the group came up from their exciting and successful dive. The second group had an equally successful dive and even got to see humpback whales on their boat ride.

Bartering on the beach with local vendors has become almost as important as learning to dive.  Our group is quickly acquiring a second wardrobe with some African flare – wild pants with various designs are a welcome addition to our malaria clothing line, along with hats, shorts and bracelets.

After our diving we pow-wowed for dinner and celebrated Aunge's 31st birthday. We surprised her with a birthday massage, room decorations, and a chocolate cake on the beach after dinner. We brought the underwater scene to her as she was unable to dive due to some ear problems.  A full moon over the water was the cherry on top of a fantastical day.

Which leads us to the present, where most of the girls are at the dive center finishing classroom time and preparing for their 3rd and 4th dives. The few of us who opted out of diving are enjoying some quiet relaxation to the sound of waves and the sight of swaying palm trees.

Sounding off,
Brooklyn, Senior, Washington

Friday, October 5, 2012

Academic Updates from the Teachers

Dear Parents and Friends,

I just got off the phone with the teachers, and the girls are enjoying Family Fun Night this Friday night. That means they're relaxing, watching a movie, playing games or just hanging out. They've had a busy week with their scuba activities and are preparing for their upcoming midterm exams and projects that start next week, Monday-Thursday. I hope you all get an opportunity to talk with your daughters this weekend and hear for yourself about the beauty of the Mozambican coastline and the marvels of the ocean! You should expect academic comments and midterm grades (we will mail out the midterm transcripts to you and your daughter's school) soon after midweek, the week of October 22nd.

There is never a dull moment during a TTS20 gym class!  While completing plyometric exercises at the Eureka Camp in Lusaka, students were joined by several zebras and a whole family of giraffes.  An aquatic aerobics class quickly evolved into a human whirlpool exercise resulting in such fast currents, the students were able to pick up their feet and ride around in circles.  While running in Chipata, the students were accompanied by an excited group of young children eager to link hands and jog with our group.  Throughout exercises on the beaches of Mozambique, the students are learning about the local fishing industry as the fisherman bring their morning's catch of tuna and rays to shore.  Recently students began taking on the role as teacher and started to present their own lesson plans.  A beach scavenger hunt was a perfect way to start the day, as the group was split into two teams, then raced to find the roundest coconut and longest palm frond.  As the student workouts continue, there's no guessing what other surprises are in store for the TTS20 group.

iLife class continues to be the space for students to learn techniques for living independently and to collect strategies for living and traveling with a large group. Our recent discussions have centered on nutrition and self-care, with ideas for how students can make healthy choices not just at TTS and in high school, but also in college and beyond. Students have also worked on devising organization tactics specific to their needs, to ensure that they can navigate the tricky blend of 'real life' and 'school life' that comprises TTS. As we approach the second half of our semester, students are also stepping into assigned leadership roles. Students work in teams as chieflets and are responsible for ensuring that the day's schedule runs smoothly. To best support them in these roles, we have had classes on different leadership styles (including a huge human leadership grid in the middle of a park) as well as continue to work with them individually to help them discover the best tactics for them as they lead a group of peers.

Students have completed their extensive unit on graphing and have begun to study algebraic expressions, solving for variables and using proportions.  The class has also enjoyed continuing to expand their “crazy class locations” list by recording several new additions.  While passing through Customs into Mozambique, the class took advantage of a delayed Visa process and completed a full hour of study literally on the Zambia-Mozambique border.  Since we had already passed the Zambian border, and had not officially entered Mozambique yet, the students were thrilled to complete a class while physically located in the space between two countries!  Does that count for being in two places at one time?  The class also enjoyed reviewing for a test with their toes in the soft sands of Vilanculos, as well as work on solving ratios while sitting alongside the infinity pool.  As the midterm exam is fast approaching, students will continue to work hard as they review for the upcoming test.

During the second quarter of TTS 20, the Precalculus class developed their catch phrase, “keepin' it real! Numbers”.  The three ladies have formed an interactive community in the class and work together to challenge and support one another.  They offer different ways to explain topics and theories if a peer  hasn't fully mastered a topic.  In class, they make connections between previously learned concepts and current topics thus challenging me to make further connections and real world explanations.  It is quite amazing to teach this group of ladies who are curious enough to go beyond the textbook.  The ladies also make small study groups to work through nightly homework together.  In the past few weeks, the students finished chapter one and the study of the most basic forms of each type of graph and the transformations that happen due to different addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operations.  The class is currently studying polynomials and how to find roots, determine end behavior and general shape based on the leading coefficient test.    

The class is currently engaged in the interviewing process.  Each student chose a topic pertaining to diving, marine ecology or the pros and cons of working in a foreign country to interview one of their dive instructors.  Students are quickly learning how essential it is to write down observations and have notebooks ready during conversations with locals to gather story-telling quotes and set the scene for their journalistic pieces.  Throughout the semester the class has been focusing on understanding the differences between journalistic writing versus thesis writing.  Travel writing is a challenging skill to master as it encourages the writer to write in first person and bring the reader into the story by creating images through vivid wording and sharp images.  The class is also building their individual photographic portfolios by playing with perspective and angles to highlight different subjects.  Students are preparing to start their second major article of the semester in the upcoming week.

Throughout the past couple of weeks, the Global Studies students have focused their coursework on  conservation and sustainability.  The class held several discussions on the need for a balance between conservation efforts and supportive programs for local villages in order to sustain any type of environmental movement.  Students then took center stage while at Wildlife Camp performing  commercials they had created to promote the different components of sustainability.  Advertisements for tourism, fire, hunting, national parks and wilderness areas, and even natural population controllers such as the tsetse fly were all equally entertaining as educational!  Before visiting Gorongosa National Park, the class created a historical book of illustrations which portrayed  the park's development as well as its recovery following the recent war of Mozambique.  The class then visited the park and the Community Education Center where the students saw all the components of sustainability in action.  As the students continue their travels in Mozambique, they will be studying the local current events and continuing to create their language journals for the upcoming midterm next week.

Recently, the Math Concepts students began the unpredictable game called, The Game of Life, to address the ever-changing economic aspects of adulthood.  Each student was assigned a character profile including: the name, age, city of residence, career, family description and a list of hobbies and interests.  From this given information, each student created a family portrait for their character, and introduced themselves to the class in character with convincing accents or personality changes.  Each student determined a monthly budget based on their character's fixed versus flexible spending goals based on their personal living standards.  As The Game of Life continues, the students will face various  challenges and benefits simulating financial possibilities in real life.  For example, a character's pet gets sick and she needs to adjust her monthly budget for vet bills.  Or, a bonus may be given out at work allowing students the opportunity to decide to spend the extra money or put it into a savings account.  Other topics covered in class and used in The Game of Life include: saving versus checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and the pros/cons of buying a home or renting.  As midterms quickly approach, students will finish up The Game of Life and begin constructing an informational survival guide to living on their own.

As our big blue truck trundles from savanna to shoreline, we are moving through novels and writing styles in our Literature and Composition class. The students are immersed in a Mozambican book entitled Sleepwalking Land. Written in a blend of magical realism, oral narrative, and historical storytelling styles, it is an excellent introduction to alternate forms of narrative, and the students are taking it on with gusto. In addition to gaining insights about Mozambique's national  psyche and recent history from Sleepwalking Land, the students are using it as springboard for their own magical realism narrative writing. In writing their piece, students will have the chance to push literary boundaries, describing commonplace events and objects using magical elements and expanding their skills as writers.

Our South-East African History class could not be luckier. Everywhere we turn, hands-on learning opportunities present themselves. A couple of weeks ago we were traveling through a city and came across a 100 foot mural depicting Mozambique's war of independence—time for a history lesson on independence struggles and on how art can tell history! Last week we were stopped at a small coastal town known for its unique blend of architecture—time for a history lesson on all the different cultural influences in Mozambique and on how our sense of place is shaped through historical events! These experiential opportunities are a great supplement to our lessons on recent Mozambican history and all of the tumultuous events this country has undergone in the last 37 years since it gained independence. We are finishing up our unit on Mozambique's history with a discussion of current events and of how Mozambique is ever more entwined in the global economic and political scene. As we discuss how events across the world are linked, students are coming to the realization of how their individual actions and choices can play into making history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Board Member and TTS Alumni Parent Greets You!

Greetings to all!

I'd like to introduce myself to you all.  I have the great fortune of being an alumni parent to three Traveling School girls, each daughter with two semesters of TTS!  You can imagine how hard it is to carry on without another TTS semester in the future, so now I enjoy supporting TTS as a member of the Board of Directors.

I've been re-living the adventurous bliss of my own daughters' TTS experiences while browsing through these blogs and have to admit it brings tears to my eyes.   I love hearing how the girls are studying amongst the zebras...visiting the farm that they read about in their literature...eating the wonderful food ...sleeping under the African stars.  I also recall the phone calls that didn't seem to be quite often enough and my anticipation of how my girls would return and what changes that I might see in them.  And I smile, remembering how the photos, at first sparse and then, more abundant...took my breath away.  I know that Robert would like *more* photos...I always did!

I well remember the yearning to  talk with my girls and waiting for the phone calls. Those short talks were like jewels to be treasured and I remember when my oldest daughter, Erin, called for the first time, my husband and I almost had a fist fight trying to secure that telephone!  Although she denies it now, she had a few moments of home sickness--I could tell.  As the first semester for my youngest daughter, Ali, progressed, I mentioned to second oldest, Rachael,  that the phone calls seemed to be getting less and less since Erin's first semester.  Rachael smiled and said, "Mom...when I had the opportunity to call...there was the alternate opportunity to explore.  What do you think I wanted to do...?"  I wanted to talk with Ali, but I laughed and took comfort in knowing that she felt secure enough to forgo the phone call and soak in her surroundings.  All my girls were different and all seemed to find their own inner resources.  I think the hardest part for me, was allowing them to draw on those resources and take flight.

Truly, nothing has impacted our daughters lives more than their semester of hands-on learning with TTS.  It's wonderful to be able to continue to support TTS as a board member and I would like to extend the invitation to use me as a resource as the semester progresses, should you desire an experienced, parent's eye view.  Ask me questions here or email me at:

I'd love to hear from you!

Laura Johnson
Bozeman, MT