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

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