Friday, October 31, 2014

Forever in my heart

Hello All,

It looks as though Robin, Jennifer and Richard (through his wonderful video) have beautifully updated you on the details of our visit... So, what I would  like to contribute is a "THANK YOU". Thank YOU (that include's the teachers parents) for raising such amazing young women. Each and every girl was welcoming, thoughtful, kind, loving, sincere and strong. You all should be so proud of your daughters. I don't know about you, but I could have never done what they are doing at their age (or frankly now) and do so with the grace, humility and respect they have for each other. It was a true gift for me to be able to spend five days around your girls. I fell in love with each of them. BRAVO to YOU... You have done your jobs incredibly well. I am so glad my Hannah can now call your girl friend. Lastly, after spending only five days with these girls, my heart is feeling a little empty without them... I can only imagine the roller coaster of feelings our girls will go though upon reentry.

With love

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Campus Visit

The Campus Visit wrapped up a few days ago after an action packed week of adventures. Chilo Gorge in Gonarezhou National Park set the stage and TTS parents and students brought it to life. From welcome skits to game drives to soccer games, everyone was busy, busy, BUSY! For parents it was a unique glimpse into their daughter's current life - potentially very different from home, but invigorating to witness. For students, it felt strange to be away from the truck and tent life without daily chores to manage. It was also a welcome treat to snuggle into beds and use real towels after showering. But, by listening to stories from the teachers each week, I sense these ladies have developed a true respect for the belongings they have on the semester and the community they developed. As a vicarious member of TTS24 and other semesters, I must admit this group has bonded together in an incredible way - they name their mentor groups based on inside jokes, dance and sing through meals and relish in the moment.

Today the group will cross into their final county - South Africa. I look forward to hearing how they celebrate Halloween and the costumes created from the array of clothing in duffle bags. Tomorrow, Jennifer will leave the group and begin her adventure home. And later this weekend students will begin their homestays near Kruger National Park. 

For those who visited TTS24, please share stories and photos on this blog. Story telling is easy - just choose to write a blog using the pencil icon on the right side of the window. Photos can be a bit of a bugger, but once you get started, it comes together quite well. If anyone chooses to share photos on social media, please refrain from tagging the students. We strive to keep their location as unknown as possible.

Here are a couple methods to share photos. Please know we are open to other suggestions from tech saavy readers.
1. Follow this link to upload photo album from Picasa to Blogger.
2. Use your Gmail account - upload photos through Google+ (I believe this is now the same as Picasa) - Share photos with
3. Create a Dropbox album and share with

I also want to say THANK YOU for being informed and responsible TTS parents & friends - you seem to monitor the Ebola situation and ask questions as needed. We vigilantly follow a variety of news sources to collect information and stay informed about this situation and other happenings in southern Africa. Please let me know if you would like further information about the disease - we have plenty of interesting information about the outbreak.

And, if you want to surprise your daughter with your knowledge of the course region. Surprise her with this tidbit.

Happy Halloween,


And now a note from the field:

Teams Unite
A Campus Visit highlight for the entire group has been a football game with the local Shangaan school girls on "Not Soccer Saturday." Most of the village showed up; Beth and I guesstimated at least 250-300 spectators! You can imagine the trepidation in both teams as we drove up in safari jeeps. Our girls hadn't played a lot of soccer prior to this moment, and our most experienced soccer players were benched due to injuries. The village girls as well weren't accustomed to crowds of spectators coming to their soccer games. Before the game commenced the Deputy Head of the local high school welcomed our group, introduced the important people in the crowd, mentioning the chief was invited and hadn't arrived yet, and the village children then sang the Zimbabwe National Anthem in Shangaan.

Before heading onto the field, the referee called for FIFA rules and regs.  Marley and Maia coached the girls in what this entailed - in general terms. Marley's pre-game huddle went something like, "OK, you can't touch the ball from your hand to your elbow, except for the goalie. There are 11 players on each team. Pick someone to guard and talk to each other!" When the ref brought the girls together to start the game, announcing two 45 minute periods, Ava scanned the immensity of the full-sized football field and suggested capping it at 20 minutes instead and both teams agreed.

The Shangaan girls were a bit younger (2nd form - approx 13) and at a considerable disadvantage playing barefoot (one of their best players wore one shoe on her dominant foot). The local students did have the home crowd advantage, though Danielle and Robin sparked crowds of youngsters in cheers of 'TTS! TTS!'

At the half, the score was 0-1, and the initial apprehension had disappeared from the group. The crowd surrounded the field as the girls went to their respective sidelines. There was much talk from both sides about the TTS keeper, Sydney SG and her strong performance. Both teams re-hydrated and prepared for the second period. At this opportunity, the TTS coaches assigned  positions and strategized. In the end, the final score was a draw - at 1:1, but the overwhelming takeaway was euphoria on both sides. The Deputy Head asked the girls if they would consider playing another 10 minutes for enjoyment, which of course we did. 

Hugs from here. Hoping all's well back there.

Jennifer & Co

And now a few words from TTS24!

My husband Richard (father of Maris) had a chance to capture a greeting from each of the girls during his visit with the class this past week. It was extremely windy on the day they recorded, unfortunately, but it's still sweet to see their faces and hear their (somewhat muffled!) words.

He has lots of photos to share, too. Watch for those later today!  Click here to watch the video:  Greetings, Parents!

An "In situ" Parental Perspective

Hello, all! 

         Along with Danielle (Hannah L.) and Richard (Maris), we (Robin and Lenny, parents of Sydney S-G) were lucky enough to spend 5 days with TTS24 in Chilo Gorge, Zimbabwe.  We thought you might appreciate a post that captures some of the time and offers a glimpse of the experience our daughters are having.  Also be on the lookout for video and stills from Richard, who as luck would have it for the rest of us is a PROFESSIONAL photographer.  And I’m sure that Danielle (who traveled across the world to provide the girls with a series of thoughtful treats – both tasteful and practical) with will share her own views and reflections shortly.

It’s hard to know where to begin. 

We can start by setting the scene.  Chilo Gorge is a lovely lodge perched above the Save River, which ebbs to a relatively low level in the dry months, but substantially swells in the rainy months ahead.  (The width of the sandy bed is impressive, and we were all sorry not to see it in full roar.)  TTS took over the entire lodge, and the girls welcomed a chance to stay in rooms with real beds, showers and their very own toilets and sinks.  From what we can tell of their two-to-a-tent, pack and go in 30 minutes, help with cooking and cleaning, do your own laundry, up by 6:00 for calisthenics and go, go, go until lights out at 10:00 each night lifestyle, Chilo Gorge Lodge represented something of a vacation for them.  (Parents, you’ll be delighted to know free laundry was available, so the girls had a chance to get back into clean clothes.  We can report seeing “brown” shirts returned to their original white.) 

While the schedule was no doubt lighter than usual, it was still jam-packed.  During our short stay we went on two game drives. (We don’t like to brag, but, together with our guide Lionel and teacher Katie, our jeep -- Bailey, Kait, Sarah, Caroline, Marley, and Sydney S-G -- saw and recorded 104 different types of birds after being challenged by the other jeeps).  We went on a walking safari, where we learned about the exotic, tasty, and sometimes deadly properties of local flora before enjoying “sundowners” on a cliff overlooking the river.  We visited nearby Mahenye Village, where we saw how locals make palm wine (and tasted it, though be reassured it was largely pre-fermented and non-alcoholic) and had a chance to read with local school children outside their classrooms after watching a vigorous Shona dance.  We saw TTS classes in action, where the girls wrestled with local poetry and the reality and science of water and shortages.  We also were lucky enough to watch the girls share brave and kind reflections of things they’ve experienced and what thoughts and questions were triggered.  (Be sure to ask your daughter about her Global reflection.  We can assure you every one is worth hearing and discussing.)  We had a chance to see some of the academic work the girls had completed – from the informative, insightful, creative, beautiful and fun TTS Newspaper, to quality illustrations of why we ordinary humans are really “superheroes” when you consider the miracles our bodies perform each day (from tears flushing out unwanted particles to nose hair keeping out dust and germs). 

But, three highlights merit special mention.  First was a soccer match between our TTS students and a group of young women from the local high school.  Though many of the TTS students were not soccer players, they gamely agreed to dive in.  When we arrived at the dirt/sand field with net-less goals, we saw that the entire village – hundreds of children, teens and adults – had turned out to see the game.  It was brutally hot and most of the locals played barefoot.  The game was a hard-fought 40 minutes, with an additional 20 minutes added on because no one could bear to see the game end, and despite heroic efforts by all (and some spectacular saves by the TTS keeper), the locals won 2-1.  Of course, the point wasn’t the score or even the caliber of play.  Watching our girls play with the Zimbabwean girls, watching Richard take pictures of village kids and seeing their reactions as he showed them the photos as they crowded around him, hearing Danielle and Quinn rally locals to cheer “Let’s go, TTS”, and to give high fives and handshakes unceasingly to the dozens of beaming children anxious and shy to interact with such novel guests…it was a moment of community and goodwill I suspect none of us will ever forget.  (If we mistakenly do, we need only glance at the terrific photos Jennifer took of the two teams forming a spontaneous arch for each other and the local children to pass through as the game came to an end to remember the joy of the day.)  While but one experience among many for our daughters, it was a powerful reminder of what a life-changing semester they are having.  They won’t look at the world the same way after 3 months of such opportunities, and it is clear on a daily basis how intentional the planning has been, and how deliberate and thoughtful the discussions this stellar group of teachers regularly has with our girls.

Which brings us to the teachers.  Sure, none of us would have sent our daughters off to Africa without a belief that they were in good hands.  But, without speaking for Danielle and Richard (though I’m confident they’ll agree), we’ll up the ante and highlight that we all hit the jackpot with this group.  There’s Quinn the intern -- a former TTS student herself.  She’s a terrific presence, offers a wonderfully empathetic take on the experience as our girls live it, and wakes at 5:30 AM to run the local roads.  There’s Sarah White -- the lead teacher who relentlessly pushes the girls to challenge all of their assumptions and to think for themselves, and brings her substantial experience teaching on several TTS trips bear.  There’s Mary Reid -- who has committed past, present, and future her career to using hands-on experience to not just teach but transform students.  There’s Beth -- who manages to make water interesting and to encourage even as she nudges the girls to consider approaches different from what they’ve already done.  And there’s Katie --  who has already brought out some extraordinary work in her teaching of Global and Travel Journalism, all with a warm and welcoming smile.  What an amazing set of teachers, mentors and role models for our group of 16!!  (And as a bonus treat, we got to spend the visit with Jennifer Royall, whose passion and talent for TTS and what it represents is as heartfelt as it is inspiring.)  Even as we realized that the 5 days we were there were close to a “vacation,” the amount of work and planning and care that goes into each experience, each lesson and each day was remarkable – and evident even as the teachers tried to by word and deed to downplay it.  What a gift to our daughters… We have no adequate words to capture how truly impressed and touched we were.

Finally, it is worth highlighting what an extraordinary group of young women with whom to travel.  We can’t speak for the rest of you, but our biggest fear was that our daughter might spend 3 months in a group fraught with cliques or teenage angst run amok.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  From the first “circle” discussion, where the group welcomed parents and offered to answer questions and share initial thoughts, it was transparent that the group is open, considerate, insightful and committed to supporting each other.  The girls quite obviously had relationships with every other group member.  And, while there were noisier, quieter, more rambunctious, or more serious members to be sure, a mutual regard was evident in every interaction.  We were up close and personal for five days -- sharing meals, watching classes, going on lengthy hikes and drives -- and we saw nary a cross word.  That’s not to say there aren’t some modest, normal tensions here and there, but unless we missed something significant, nothing seemed to come close to touching the transparent pleasure they take in each other’s company and obvious fun they are having as a group.

For our part, it was wonderful to have personalities to put to the pictures.  We learned that Marisa is rarely found without a smile or a laugh, and that Caroline is a world-class wildlife spotter (with Sarah a cheerful and humble close second!).  We saw Kait honored with two awards in one night (they give out 5 awards every Saturday, with the girls passing on the one they received the week before to another), and we had a chance to discuss poetry with Bailey (who was kind enough to volunteer to partner with a parent and offered terrific insight!).  Hannah W. rose to the challenge of being “chieflet” on the day we visited the cliffs at Chilojo (our most ambitious day) (NOTE:  At this point in the trip girls rotate being “chieflet” for the day, in charge of the schedule and logistics – great experience to be sure!), and we learned that Claudia is ever ready with a probing question or thought, delivered with a smile and warmth.  Sydney M. offered a Global reflection that gave us chills and still has us thinking, and Ava wrote and performed songs we hope (predict?) to hear on an album someday – with a voice as lovely as the lyrics were thought-provoking.  Sydney L. is managing to balance a packed TTS schedule with college applications (not sure how she’s doing that!), and Maia is prompting our own daughter to learn rollicking Spanish phrases.  (Where IS the turtle, anyway?)  Hannah L. seems to have enough energy and spunk to keep Big Blue running all by herself, and it was a joy to watch Marley sing and swap quick-witted banter with Sydney SG (who undoubtedly is the noisiest member of the group!).  We’d love nearby Maris to visit Chicago as promised, and we hope Violet knows how much we enjoyed hearing about her photography passion and more generally her thoughtful and engaging perspectives.  In short, your girls are making some wonderful and we hope life-long friends.  And because this experience is necessarily a product not just of the studies and travel, but of the people they share it with, we came away with a renewed sense of appreciation of what this will mean to our own daughter.

We’ve gone on much too long, but only because there is so much to share.  We hope this gives you another small window into what they are experiencing even if we cannot provide a soundtrack of hippo grunts and baboon screeches to go with it, or capture the grace of a stork or heron in flight.  That said, we do hope it helps you to hear one more perspective on how your daughters are in tremendous hands, and having adventures and making friends to last a lifetime.  I know our daughter will come back changed for the good, and we can’t help but think yours will too.

Robin Steans & Lenny Gail

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Activities through the words of students

Haikus About Curio Markets
by Sydney SG, Junior, Illinois and Marley, Junior, Montana

[editor's note: formatting is intentional, according to the authors]

colours everywhere
under table, even more goods
reaching for kwacha

inside stalls I'm trapped
overpriced, I will barter
"Made by my brother"

"And only this stall"
"Real cow bone, I promise you"
kwacha exchanges

everyone is glad
time to leave, purchase in hand
souvenir for mom

[note from the authors: read between the lines, there is a secret]

Drumming in Livingstone
by Maia, Senior, New York

We all herded through the common area at Jollyboys to the lawn adjacent to the outdoor kitchen. All of the wooden benches we had been sitting on during meals were arranged in a semi-circle around a big, colorful bass drum. We were each told to find a seat behind one of the smaller drums that had been set out in front of the benches. Two grinning Zambian men were waiting to greet us, their dreadlocks flopping in their faces. One of the men stepped forward and introduced himself as “Lion,” which was fitting considering his shirt had a graphic of two lions on it. He was also wearing a faux-leather hat which he removed to reveal six enormous dreadlocks. His dirty, all-white Adidas sneakers each had red, yellow, and green beads strung through the laces. The other man was wearing the typical “embarrassing dad” Hawaiian shirt, complete with a plethora of silhouetted palmtrees with a blue background.

Lion taught us how to properly hold our drums: between our thighs with our ankles crossed to make sure the instrument didn't slide down. We played “Call and Response” for awhile, after Lion had described the difference between the different sounds the drums made depending on where you hit it. If you slapped the middle it made a deep bass you could feel in your chest while slapping the sides made a shallow “thuack!”

The man in the Hawaiian shirt, who was also sporting natural dreadlocks accompanied us on the bass drum and entertained us by randomly shouting things like “Africa!,” “Zambezi!,” and “ZAMBIA!” in his raw, throaty voice.

The sound of the drums echoed for miles, bouncing off buildings and throbbing in the smokey evening air. After our hour of drumming, dancing, and yelling weird noises, Lion gave us a short speech about how we have to “feel the music inside of us.” We asked him to play something for us and he proceeded to impress us with an improvised duet with the bass drummer, which was an excellent way to end our session.

We lumbered off after saying our "zikomos," our hands throbbing and red. The drum rhythms pounding in our heads, we exited to put our malaria clothes on and continue our crazy lives.

Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi
by Marisa, Sophomore, California and Hannah L. Junior, California

As the bright light of the golden sun reflected off of our skin and bounced off of the water, our voices harmonized to the familiar melody of "Rivers and Roads." To our side, hippos bobbed up and down the deep trenches of the great Zambezi river, and elephants joined by the tail opened their ears to listen to the vibrations of our sweet song.

We decided to make our final night in Zambia a memorable one. We put on our fancy, long skirts and brushed our hair. When we stepped on to our private boat, our eyes widened in excitement at the appetizers laid out on the table and the assortment of sodas placed on the bar counter.

As we dined on the top deck of the boat to the setting sun, memories floated through our minds of South Luangwa, Lusaka, Bovu Island, and Livingstone. The sunset cruise was a perfect way to wind down the evening, and our time in Zambia.

Hwange National Park
by Baylie, Sophomore, California

Who doesn't love waking up and getting ready at 4:45? It's a lot easier when it's because you're going on a game drive and want to catch glimpses of wildlife as the sun rises. Hwange National Park was where we went on our third and fourth game drives. Anytime you're bouncing down a dirt road through the savannah in a safari truck is pretty cool, but the Hwange game drives paled in comparison to South Luangwa. On the evening drive in South Luangwa we saw a pride of sleeping lions and several leopards prowling through the grass. Their mannerisms reminded me of my cats back home! It seemed like every corner we turned there was an elephant or a giraffe or some other stereotypical African animal. The Hwange game drives were much more mellow, although we did see quite a few elephants and antelope. For me, it was a meditative experience to zone out and appreciate the silence. The dusty dry landscape sprinkled with acacia trees was the ideal backdrop as the hot wind rushed through my hair. All the game drives have been incredible experiences. It's pretty neat to reach the point where you've seen so many that it's “just another elephant.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Classes, Classes, Classes

TTS24 and friends

PE & iLife

We are busy in the early mornings with jogging, yoga, soccer, frisbee, and even synchronized swimming! We have found ourselves running next to zebras on our morning jog, playing a game of soccer on a golf course, and choreographing a routine to “Under The Sea” for our swim class. The enthusiasm the girls bring during these early mornings is a great way to start the day feeling accomplished and energized. Soon the students will have their own opportunity to lead PE class and implement the activities they love into our outdoor classroom.

In our moments of iLife classes – habitual islands of stress-free magic – we've allowed time for reflection on the course of the semester thus far. To follow up with our goal-setting from the start of the semester, students revisited their self-projections and made relevant revisions. We also took a look at personal effort in PE classes, and considered what changes each individual could make to get more out of their workouts. Leading up to midterm exams, students were especially in need of a clear discussion about stress management techniques. In addition, students and teachers participated in a poignant fishbowl discussion regarding grades: numbers assigned to humans and the importance (or not) they carry in their lives. Soon, the students will take over more leadership of their daily lives as they become “chieflets”: setting the schedule, managing work crews, and creating the flow of the day. We look forward to coaching them through this exciting experience!

Travel Journalism

We hope you've been enjoying the pieces coming from our famous TTS writers in Travel Journalism! After visiting South Luangwa, students completed a series of “Who Am I?' articles in which they wrote a narrative coming from the perspective of the animals we've found on our travels. Upon arriving in Lusaka students continued to perfect their interview skills by asking people around our campsite about Malaria and if/how it has impacted their lives. Later in the week TJ students wrote a series of skits based on their interviews and performed them for Malaria Day.

Over the past two weeks students have been working hard on their Midterm: The Legend of Nyami Nyami. Without many clues, they spent a good part of their week reading books, interviewing staff, local vendors, and people we met along in Livingstone and Victoria Falls. Once this assignment is completed, students will start to write and design The TTS Times to showcase their work and the writing of their fellow students for the Campus Visit. Upon completion we hope to have a copy of their newspaper online for all our viewers.

In the midst of our first cross-curricular day concerning malaria, our science class found itself walking through the life cycle of the parasite. One patch of grass at our campsite represented the mosquito – stomach at the shady tree, salivary glands at the sprinkler. Another section of lawn was the human skin, penetrated by the mosquito's secret bite. Down the brick-lined pathway of the bloostream, the students followed Plasmodium into the liver, and through the rest of its lifecycle within the blood of a human. Students described each stage in detail, working from a reading they completed to prepare for our exercise. We then launched into the TTS-TV portion of the day, with all the members of TTS24 playing characters on a fictional television talk show. Anopheles the Mosquito, Bill Gates, Rachel Carson, Stephen Hoffman, a representative from Glaxo-Smith-Kline... various perspectives joined together to discuss the local and worldwide effects of malaria, why citizens of the U.S. should care, and what a solution to this deadly disease might look like.

The next day, Dr. Anna Winters of Akros Global Health (check them out at invited us to visit their non-profit, and learn more about malaria and strategies for its control in Zambia. Via the utilization of techniques from mobile phone tracking by rural health workers to DNA screening of known malaria cases, Akros is a leader in the potential eradication of the disease in this area. We were especially inspired by the all-female leadership that we met: Dr. Winters, their communications director, and a chemist from their research lab. To my delight as a science teacher, we were even invited to check out their lab, where they run routine tests on blood samples from infected individuals from around the country.

Malaria Day and Akros provided a splendid introduction to our unit on infectious diseases. Throughout our time in Livingstone and our first days in Zimbabwe, our class dove into different types of disease, the classification of infectious agents, potential treatments, and an overview of public health measures. Students presented infectious agents as evil villain characters, and drew up superheroes to demonstrate the values of their nonspecific and specific immune systems. Ignited by the news of the first Ebola diagnosis in the U.S., our class turned to the study of epidemiology, and worked in groups to come up with strategic plans for dealing with this disease in Africa. As we move towards midterms, we are concluding this exciting unit with a review of antibiotic resistance, herd immunity, and a final exam involving the creative elaboration of 14 brand new create-your-own dieases (and epidemiologic plan to fight them, of course)!

Global Studies

Our time in the capital of Zambia will be remembered for its zebras and our heightened awareness of malaria's influence. The teachers devoted a full class day to a cross-curricular look at malaria. Each class focused on a specific facet of the disease. Science students role-played the life cycle of the parasite while travel journalism students interviewed locals' perspectives. All the classes prepared the students to share their newfound knowledge through our imaginative 'TTS TV presents Malaria Day'. Each student was given fictional or nonfictional  roles that are affected by the disease. Bill and Melinda Gates, a local Zambian aid worker, a drug company representative, "Anapheles" the mosquito, and a plethora of other creative characters were interviewed in the program. The teachers acted as servers and commentators during the show. TTS TV was a great success on all accounts. To top it off, we were fortunate to visit a malaria research center. Akros Clinic gave us an in-depth tour of their facilities and answered our infinite number of questions about the prevalence of the disease and its ramifications.

Also while in Lusaka, the University of Zambia's economics club were delighted to give TTS a private tour of their school. Our students were eager to discuss life, politics and the economy with Zambian students. The club gave us great insight to the issues facing their country.

Our time in Lusaka came to an end too quickly. But luckily for us, our Zambian education does not. While enjoying a laid back weekend on Bovu Island, the students were asked to read an article on Zambian copper mining. During class, we discussed the positive and negative consequences of mining for the local people and the environment. The owner of the island, Brett, overheard our conversation and asked to join. Brett grew up in in a mining family and studied mining in university. In his early twenties he held a high position in a South African mine. Needless to say, our students gained valuable knowledge and perspective about complexities surrounding natural resources.

Currently, the students are analyzing and evaluating the role of the United Nations while TTS teachers prepare a role-playing simulation. Yesterday students acted as UN members to create and implement a resolution for a hypothetical international crisis. This weekend students will take on the role of U.S. senators arguing for varying policies surrounding the role of the United Nations in U.S foreign policy. In order to embody their roles, students completed readings on the history of the UN, its role in international affairs, and issues surrounding the organization.

Algebra 2 is exploring real-world implications and building their problem solving skills. They combined with the Precalculus class to compute and interpret statistics surrounding malaria. In pairs, students performed public service announcements during our Malaria Day cross-curricular presentation. Building off their abilities to determine percentages, students went on to use proportions and cross-multiplication to solve equations. We also used similar skills to convert kilograms to pounds, miles to kilometers, and gallons to liters -- demystifying many of the numbers we encounter here on a daily basis! Most recently, students began to graph linear equations and inequalities. Next up, we will be learning how to determine and interpret lines of best fit.

With the Algebra 2 class, Precalculus took a detour into statistics and percentages during our preparation for Malaria Day. The subsequent public service announcements were alternately moving and humorous, ranging from a vignette featuring a talking mosquito to a factual presentation of troubling statistics. Students then moved on from simplifying expressions into solving equations and inequalities. They are graphing linear equations and can determine whether a graph is a function. In analyzing those graphs, students are learning how to define domain and range and find the x- and y-intercepts. Finally, students are using points on a graph along with parallel or perpendicular lines to determine slope and to write an equation fitting the given parameters.

Math Concepts
Math Concepts students worked diligently on understanding credit cards last week. What is the annual percentage rate? What are the true costs of using credit? How do you calculate what one will pay over time based on the APR?

Moving into Zimbabwe, the questions are centering around inflation, and what occurred in the economy here not so long ago. Why is it that walking down the street people sell billion dollar notes? What is dollarization, and why was it implemented? If U.S. dollars are only printed in the U.S., how do they get to Zimbabwe? Why is South African rand given as change?

For the midterm, students are preparing presentations on their respective novels: 'Nickel and Dimed', 'Small is Beautiful', and 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman'. MC students are also helping their peers on questions around the economy, explaining issues surrounding currency and markets. it is exciting to watch them step into the teaching role, and I can't wait for the increased leadership each student will take in the second half of the semester.

Literature & Composition

Wow, students completed an intensive literature exam two weeks ago, which asked them to make connections from their home lives, their observations, and the text, 'Zenzele'.  Since then, they have written twitter poetry, and recited their epistolary narratives over an open fire and s'mores. Last week we dove into Alexandra Fuller's novel, 'Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight', a riveting memoir that is the definition of 'show, don't tell' writing. We get shivers when reading her descriptions, the harsh and chaotic images clearly painted in our minds. Literature class is aligning with history more than ever, elucidating issues of structural violence and racism in former Rhodesia. It is powerful to be in the locations of the novel, to feel the red African dust, see the sunsets, and understand the ZANU-PF writing on the walls. Students are beginning to understand the complexities of black/white relations in the region through varying perspectives of different authors. For their upcoming midterm, they are each writing a personal manifesto, inspired by the work of Fuller, Sojourner Truth, Eve Ensler, and more.

History has taken on an interesting twist the past week, once we entered Zimbabwe. We have gone underground. Students are learning firsthand what it means to not have free speech, or freedom of the press. What can they speak about in public? What kind of questions are okay to ask strangers? It is an awareness not many of us are used to. Using Papa as our guide, we have openly political classes in the bush, in isolated campsites where our only neighbors are elephants, vervet monkeys, and Cape buffalo. After reading a few intense articles on Robert Mugabe and the past thirty years of oppressive and corrupt policies, we had a Q & A with Papa, who told us what life was like under British control during the days of Rhodesia, during the liberation war, and post-independence under Mugabe. Rolling with the secret vibe of history class (which is all politics), we have decided to have as much fun as possible with the idea of not being able to speak freely. So we are planning a secret meeting/simulation that will ask the question of whether the United Nations should impose economic sanctions on Zim. We will meet in the middle of the night on Big Blue, using headlamps to guide our way. The students can't wait. As a teacher, I can't help but smile that each and every student wants to get up at 1am to talk about history. It is thrilling.
Domwe Island

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Call for Mail

Dear TTS24 Parents, Family and Friends,

You may already know that I will join the group in Zimbabwe for the Campus Visit. I’d like to extend an offer to all families to deliver up to 10 cards or letters to your daughters for you. If you would like to collect letters or cards from yourself, friends and/or family and mail them to the TTS PO Box 7058, Bozeman, MT 59771 (they must arrive no later than Wednesday, October 15th), I will get them to your daughters (teachers included!!). Please Do NOT send packages at all; we ask that you send nothing bigger than regular office sized envelopes, as I will need to pack light enough to meet the weight restrictions for my luggage. I'll collect your letters, cards, photos, newspaper clippings and hand deliver them straight to the girls.

Please let us know if you have any questions. If you need a street address for Fed Express or UPS delivery, please mail directly to our office: 109 E. Main ST, Bozeman, MT 59715.

Stay tuned for more photos like this one!

Have a great week,

TTS24 Group Shot - Mount Mulanje