Friday, November 28, 2014

final academic thoughts

Last week we listened to Anastasia tell her story as an active member of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), Mandela's armed resistance when she was a teenage girl. Eloquent, articulate, she spoke of how growing up in the 1980's meant knowing how to strip, clean, and put together an AK-47 blindfolded in 30 seconds, and how to create and throw Molotov cocktails, without being equipped for the peaceful democracy for which fought.

Yesterday we watched a film called 'Promised Land', which opened up controversial discussions about whose responsibility it is to address historical injustices. The topic was land reform. The current situation in South Africa is often likened to land issues in the U.S. around Native American reservations, and students had much to say on the issue. We also encountered a guest speaker named Peter, an Afrikaner who spoke of apartheid as 'separate development'. Students understood the subtleties of language and how obscure language can mask racism.

As we move into Swaziland, students will create a permanent record of their journey in the form of an historical map, outlining their internal transformations overlaid by historical events.

Mathematical Concepts
MC students just finished a debate on the World Trade Organization. What are the arguments for the organization? What are the arguments against? Should there be international rules of trade?  How should they function?

Claudia just finished her economic indicator map for South Africa, delineating the country's mineral wealth. Moving into Swaziland we will learn about the lilangeni, a new currency tied to the Rand. How does an absolute monarchy affect the economy? What is the economics of happiness?

The course will culminate in a sit-down exam outlining topics such as the differences between the WTO, IMF, and World Bank, and the benefits and drawbacks of 'free trade'.

Literature & Composition
The final book of the semester is July's People, by South African author Nadine Gordimer. Written in the 1980's, the novel envisions a post-Apartheid future, turning traditional black/white, servant/employer roles upside down. The third major writing assignment, an analytic essay, involves a thesis workshop, outline class, and extensive peer-editing sessions. To lighten the writing mood, we recently created haikus using the novel as inspiration, digging into the text. Soon we will read short stories aloud to sink into the magic of literature. The semester will end with the Drabble project, a story written in 100 words, no more, no less.

Global Studies
One of the last Global Reflections consisted of an 'apology letter'. Students were able to choose the perspective they were apologizing from, what they were apologizing for, and who they were apologizing to. Below are two letters - one from Hannah L, (Junior, California) writing from herself and the second by Maris B (Junior, Wisconsin) writing as a mother to a daughter.

Dear Africa,

I would like to address the misconceptions I have formed of you, which have stemmed from my former blindness towards the continent. I am sorry that I viewed you as a whole, and did not recognize the individual countries you hold, each unique and rich in culture. "Be prepared to meet many who still see Africa as one large amorphous mass: the Dark Continent..." children have been warned. And that is precisely how I viewed you. I did not consider your complexities, your strengths, or the struggles your people faced. I assumed that you were one extended savannah running from Cape to Cairo, a home to the variety of animals ranging from Morocco to Madagascar, and a stage for the barefoot men in tribal, feathered outfits who chant and stomp their feet to the harsh beat of cow-hide drums.

Your history of hardship, and of perseverance, failed to cross my mind when the topic of "Africa" appeared in conversation or in academia. I have proven the words, "History is simply the events as seen by a particular group, usually the ones with the mightiest pens and the most indelible ink," to be true. I failed to see your side of the story that dates back to the beginning of humankind.

I thought nothing of the effect that colonialism had on you, although it shaped present-day Africa and caused Africans to "cease to dream, to have [their] own vision of happiness and success."

I underestimated the violence that occurred within you; the violence that cut deep into the rough, dark skin of the oppressed. The violence that came out of the mouths of the ignorant, and seeped into the ears of those who were used to the harsh words that were thrown at them. And the violence which blinded those consumed by the idea that the color of skin determined superiority. The violence that was not necessarily seen or heard, yet it existed, and it continues to exist to this day. Although the obstacle of violence stood in their way, your people fought for what they believed was theirs, and never lost hope. Yet I failed to notice as my inexperienced lens white-washed my vision.

Until I studied your history and witnessed the effects of it in everyday life, I was blind. I am sorry that I allowed my preconceived notions to blur out your beauty, and I am sorry that there are people out there who still see you as one large, dark amorphous mass.

Africa, I have one question for you:
What influences a person to form false, preconceived notions?

With love and remorse,


by Maris B, junior, Wisconsin
based on “Bedlam in the Blood” (National Geographic - 07/07) article on malaria in science textbook 

My darling Sofie,

Never has despair gripped my bones the way it does as I watch your little hand twitch and clench beneath the IV's tubes and needle. In the hospital, time seems to come to a stop. Sounds echo off its cavernous white walls and ceilings: ceilings that seem to be made to accommodate beasts much larger than ourselves. You have a window next to your bed with a plastic shade that you can pull up and down with a blue cord. I haven't mastered the contraption, though I yanked at it until a young nurse easily retracted it. I only wanted my girl to see the sinking orange sun. I tried to explain. Grandmother sits in the corner, wordlessly pinning sharp stitches into your loved teddy's leg. I know her heart goes numb. I know her heart grows numb. I have languished at your bedside for five long days. I won't let papa near you. The minute he started using your bednet for catching the slippery silver in the stream, I knew it would bring trouble to our doorstep. But no matter, this is not a letter of excuses, but a letter of apology. Apology for the awful pricks in your blue veins. Apology for the uncomfortable starch sheets, for the putrid smell of vinegar used on the floors, for the coma too.

The only thing I can think is: at least your arms don't ache from holding your panting baby brother at night. At least your legs aren't bruised from struggling with the cast iron pot of water. At least you can sigh into a cotton pillow and let your small body melt into the nested mattress like the lark on the wall paper around the headboard.

I write this letter so when you can't stir up dust with the other children, kicking around the ball, because your foot drags on the grass... when you are denied school because your eyes can't make meaning out of letters, you will still feel the sun on your face and the dirt in your toes. You will still wonder at the Mhbizi roaming the grasslands, the eagle in the sky, the darting fish in the stream, and life will still be large and brilliant and bright.

This is why, my Sofie, I watch the sun setting, knowing one day, if you open your eyes and rise from this bed, you may hear my apology, and in your heart, forgive me.


We pushed our earplugs into our ears, anticipating the grueling noise of rock grinding against rock. Pebbles poured in a stream from one level to the next. Our fluorescent yellow safety vests stood out in contrast to the graphite colored tubes and the cloudy sky, and our breath felt hot against the face masks we donned at the start of the tour. We ascended stairs to become mesmerized by monstrous vats of steaming gray liquid, bubbling and gurgling as it spilled over the edges.

Our science studies most recently took us to Nkomati mine, South Africa's only primary nickel producer. The mining consisted of underground and open field operations; we had the privilege to visit the open field – Pit B. Before the tour, the mining communications director organized presentations for our students about geology, rock engineering, and metallurgy. A fantastic opportunity to learn from our experiences, students grilled the scientists about geothermal gradients, physical stress on rocks, and the societal effects of mining on the surrounding population.

Meanwhile, in “official science class,” our theme song continues, and we have opened our investigation of water issues to problems of water scarcity. Students completed personal water use audits, comparing their water usage in their homestays, at TTS in general, and at home – this activity generated a fruitful discussion. After a brainstorm of all water usage, we ranked the importance of these needs and tried to clarify the relevance of these rankings. As we move into the final part of the semester, we are working to categorize all issues related to water based on their scope and duration – who does this issue affect and why? How long has this issue lasted? How realistic and costly is a solution? Whose responsibility is it to solve the problem?

Adventures in iLife continued: Students examined the quality and worth of active listening skills. An essential part of re-engaging with their lives at home, we practiced listening under various circumstances and challenged ourselves to become increasingly aware of the speaker. This focus on a dedication to hearing others will aid us in sharing our experience with our friends and family at home, by facilitating the sharing of stories, instead of merely the one-sided explanation of the trip. Currently, we are diving into an on-going discussion regarding the maintenance of healthy relationships and setting intentions for the last two weeks of the semester. iLife will take center stage in the last week of the semester, as we open up topics such as reverse culture shock, transitions, searching for passion, and processing the semester as a whole.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Math Concepts

Mathematical Concepts

Math Con students are practicing forming and asking questions to those they encounter in order to learn about local economies. They brainstormed questions for a tailor in Malawi, interviewed a mechanic in Zambia, and grilled our Zimbabwean driver and cook on their professions.

Each student has chosen a book to present on for their midterm. Claudia is reading Nickel and Dimed, a case study on poverty in the U.S. Sydney L. is reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which illustrates how the U.S strong-arms countries into trade agreements. Maia is reading Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered, a classic by E.F. Schumaker on re-visioning our world.

Last week students learned how to create economic indicator maps, using Malawi as the example. They created a visual representation of Malawi's economy, illustrating the former president involved in a cash gate scandal, the major exports, fast facts about population and GDP, and a pie chart showing employment sectors. Each student is responsible for creating an economic indicator map of one country we visit from here on out. Additonally, they will need to interview locals on the state of the economy in order to add relevant quotes to the visual data.

Today we played MC jeopardy, with students recapping the financial and economic terms learned thus far. Coming up is a simulation called the Game of Life, in which students take on fictional characters and their life circumstances, needing to pay bill and deal with unforeseen expenses.




The following poems were read during the historical walking tour in Soweto where each student embodied the philosophies and ideologies of an important historical figure from South Africa.

By Maia K, New York, Senior
Long, long ago
existing naturally
Adorning make-up
developing tools
The KHOISAN people inhabited the Cape

LOOK! Here they come.
dark specks silhouetted in the swaying sea
growing unnaturally out of the horizon

Dutch East India Company slams into African shores.

Intending to be passers-by - Possible?

Stock up
fill the RUMBLING stomachs of sailors

"Avoid contact", they said
"Don't get involved", they commanded.

MENTALITIES not lasting long
more More MORE

Europeans cannot pass by - Impossible
undistributable land distributed
unownable humans owned

walls of separation constructed from the ground to the sky
from human to human
brick by brick
piece by piece

Wars commence
Disease proliferates

European influence expanding, spreading
KHOISAN repopulation diminishing
foundations for future interactions poured and cemented


NOT Jan van Riebeeck

D.F. Malan
By Violet W, New York, Junior

We can achieve a separation
White from black
Milk from soot
A system
Those beneath will know their place
Squatting in mud huts, digging earth, serving tea
Those chosen by God will know.
The two will not mix
One skin will never feel the warmth of the other
Purity is Godly.
If the chasm is wide enough,
the superior will not experience the displeasure of the inferior
Only a glimpse of a dark shadow
When liquid the color of their skin
appears to dilute coffee, the color of the shadow.
South Africa,
Developed by the white man.

The Apartheid Museum blew everyone away. After four hours of walking through the exhibits, students clamored for more. It was exciting to watch each student absorbed in the text, journals out, scribbling haunting quotes, taking in the photos, crying during the films. History continues to take the forefront in Johannesburg, where students are beginning to understand the social and emotional repercussions of the Apartheid era legislation such as the Land Act, the Group Areas Act, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, and more. Events such as the Soweto Uprising and Sharpeville are becoming familiar.

We have also had the honor of speaking with former Freedom Fighters. Erol Ally was detained at age 14 for four months, spending much of that time in solitary confinement. Currently the CEO of the center we stayed at the first few nights in Johannesburg, he shared his story with us highlighting the role of youth in the resistance movement. As the students gathered closely around Erol, he pointed out the window to caves on the neighboring hill where Nelson Mandela hid when he went underground. Today we head to a different museum, this one commemorating students shot by the Apartheid police. Another Freedom Fighter, Anastasia, will meet us there to share her experiences growing up as a white woman in the resistance movement. We look forward to her thoughts on violence as a method to creating a just world.

Travel Journalism

Coming off the midterm assignment, The Legend of Nyami Nyami, our students were able to put together a comprehensive newspaper for our parent visit entitled TTS Times. From logos to crossword puzzles, our budding team of journalists created and curated The Traveling School's first newspaper for the semester.  Our students included activity reflections from our travels, a guide to TTS fashion, a crossword puzzle, iShuffle playlists, #TTS Probs, what is TTS to you?, and your Noodle identity. We hope to have this publication published on the website soon in order to share it with all of or families and friends who weren't able to join us in Chilo Gorge! More recently the students have completed a photography/caption assignment that took a spin on Humans of New York and focused on the people they met on their homestay. Looking towards the end of the semester our students are currently working on an opinion piece based on issues currently facing Southern Africa. We look forward to our students learning to use their writing style to illustrate their opinion and be able to voice their views on issues facing our current home.

Mathematical Concepts
What is development? What is globalization? What is poverty? These are the questions MC students are grappling with. After visiting SKY (Soweto Kliptown Youth), a youth empowerment center in a shantytown, students are not sure of the definition of poverty. According to the UN, poverty means living on less than $1 a day. The youth at SKY said they weren't poor, yet some were AIDS orphans, grew up with challenging health and sanitation environments in shacks built of corrugated tin and mattress springs, with no electricity or running water. What is spiritual, psychological, and educational poverty? What is the role of security and community in regards to poverty? What does access and choice have to do with poverty?

Recently, students compared different development perspectives, the needs-based approach versus the ABCD approach (asset-based community development) and brainstormed the pros and cons of entering communities with these various mindsets. Next up is understanding the WTO with a reading that outlines 10 benefits of the WTO and 10 arguments against the organization.


Precalculus class has been moving quickly since midterms. Students explored how to manipulate the basic parent functions, translating them up or down, reflecting them across the x- or y-axis, and stretching or compressing them vertically or horizontally. They also learned how to combine functions and how to find an inverse. After the Chapter 1 test on quadratic equations, students evaluated their own knowledge of polynomials in Chapter 2 to gauge their individual need and pace moving forward. Students refreshed their memories of complex numbers, and they solved quadratic functions with imaginary solutions. We graphed quadratic functions while identifying the intercepts, axis of symmetry, and maximum or minimum. This background sets us up to solve, analyze, and graph polynomial equations.

Algebra 2
After spending the first quarter evaluating linear equations, Algebra 2 has been diving into analyzing quadratic functions and multiple equations at once during the past few weeks. Students learned how to evaluate a "system" of equations using graphing, elimination, and substitution. They determined whether a system would have zero, one, or infinite solutions. To finish up Chapter 3, we graphed linear inequalities and used linear programming to evaluate word problems. Moving on, students explored how to translate and transform parent functions. Narrowing in on quadratic equations, we identified the maximum or minimum, axis of symmetry, and intercepts of functions. In this way, students built the skills to graph any quadratic function in standard or vertex form. Before jumping into polynomials, we are reviewing factoring methods and how to "solve" these functions by finding their x-intercepts.

Literature & Composition
Students finished reading Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a memoir by Alexandra Fuller. We explored a wide range of themes, from the power of a specific landscape to the interconnection between race and status in several cultures. Students stood in the shoes of a particular character to see how one conflict affected each person, including the reader. We ran through several rounds of "speed dating," trading partners to discuss perspectives on diverse questions. In examining Fuller's writing, the class examined her ability to "show, not tell" through specific and clear prose. Upon completing this book, students continued on to July's People, a fictional novel by Nadime Gordimer. Challenged by ambiguous perspectives and dense prose, students have used close reading as a tool to analyze text and to increase comprehension. We spent class time detangling the chain of events and identifying narrator bias. Students will soon begin to write an analytical essay about the novel for their final writing assignment.

Global Studies
Global class has continued to be a vehicle for understanding and embracing the communities and situations we encounter. Students participated in a United Nations simulation for midterms. To prepare, each student took on the role of a delegate from a specific country to explore how the UN makes decisions. In small groups, they presented arguments for how the United States should use (or abandon) the UN in our own foreign policy decisions. Finally, they debriefed the simulation by using their new knowledge to reflect on their own opinions. 

Since midterms, students have participated in an array of cultural activities. They visited several significant cultural sites in Zimbabwe, from the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins near Masvingo. At the museum, students directed their own learning to discover more about colonial and tribal history in the area. At the ruins, all participated in a guided tour of Shona past. Students visited a local village during the parent visit at Chilo Gorge. Some students visited the school, and all of the girls played in a soccer match with local girls. This was a huge highlight for many students and a great way to interact with peers! In Islington, South Africa, students met the village chief and also a local sangoma (traditional healer).

The girls have particularly treasured their chances to genuinely explore the daily life of different cultures. We all visited Papa's home in Kadoma, Zimbabwe. Students walked around the small downtown area, and then we enjoyed lunch at his house with his sister, children, and grandchildren. It was a special opportunity to connect with Ngwena as well as learn more about how Zimbabweans live. During home stays in Islington, South Africa, students continued this type of cultural learning. Each student had a individual but similarly rich experience. Most lived without running water, learning how to take a bucket shower; some got their hair done in elaborate braids; some tried new foods like chicken feet; all experienced the daily life of a family from a very different culture than their own. 

We are finishing our final unit on Human Rights. Students divided into groups to present the life of a particular African activist, ranging from Bishop Desmond Tutu who protested the apartheid regime in South Africa to Juliana Dogbadzi who fled a life of sex slavery in religious shrines in Ghana. Each group explored their person's achievements as well as the underlying traits that helped them make a difference in the world. As we wrap up this unit, students will begin to plan their collective Zenith Project, using their knowledge and skills gained in Global class (and throughout the semester) to craft an initiative that will continue after they return home. 

With a spirit of flexibility and creativity, TTS has held PE in many shapes and forms in the past few weeks. Since midterms, the students have taken more of a leadership role in gym class by formulating their own challenging yet fun workouts. Each student will have the opportunity to prepare appropriate workouts  for our location and ability. Through this process, she learns how to manage time, the group's needs and how to be a positive leader. Here are some highlights from our student-led PE classes- Sydney lead a game of frisbee at Antelope Park with elephants as our spectators. Caroline and Violet successfully lead separate core strengthening circuits at campsites that had minimum grass and physical space. Kait prepared one of our most fun and most physically hard water exercises. She used a deck of cards to decide which exercise we would do and it's duration. Our cool down was an entertaining game of water sharks and minnows. Furthermore, Ava taught us new yoga poses through a creative sun salutation flow. We are looking forward to more student led work outs and cannot wait to see what they come up with. 

Activities and Interviews Galore

Rhino Tracking
by Ava S., Montana, Junior

It was mid-afternoon, and the Matopos savannah was backing in the sun.  We were wandering up a shaggy bluff, five hours in to a seemingly unsuccessful rhino tracking mission.  We climbed over rocks and through dense bushes, following our guide Andy like a trail of ants.  Suddenly, Andy motioned for us to stop.  We froze, not breathing, not moving, silent.  The air was still.  Andy began snaking through the brush, following a trail that only his expert eyes would recognize.  We waited, calm and quiet, under a tangle of trees. Suddenly, the line of girls surged forward with an energetic jolt.  Silent expressions of shock passed along faces as the front of the line approached a dark mass in the trees.  Rhinos: confirmed!  Gradually, a glimpse of an ear, a wrinkled body, and a stubby horn came into view.  Heart racing, we rounded a small grove of trees, stopping 30 meters away from seven heavy-set rhinos.  We were in awe.  After five hours of determined wandering through the hot savannah, the rhinos felt like something we had earned; a reward for our hard work and patience. Compared to game drives, were a wildlife experience is around every corner, the rhinos were an opportunity that we had to work for.  Because of this, the rhinos were extraordinary, and we watched them with immense satisfaction.

by Claudia A., Panama, Sophomore
The night finally came and the nervousness was almost tangible.  What will our family be like?  What if they are crazy?  What if they hate us?  What will we eat? Where will we sleep?  We were about to find out.  The ladies came through the door and gave us all embracing hugs.  We walked home with them trying to ask questions, until we realized they did not speak English.  We entered the tin-roofed house, walked through the rooms with pink walls where the TV was on, and got to our room with two twin beds.  We left our bags on the mat and sat with one of the old ladies' daughter, who did speak English. She explained to us that the reason why there were only women in the house was because the five husbands were in different parts of South Africa working in the gold mines.

The next day we woke up and asked if we could shower.  They brought us two blue buckets and two hand towels.  Interesting.  It took us awhile to figure it out but you get in the bucket, wet the little towel, and wash your body with it.  Great learning experience.  When we were ready, we had an oatmeal breakfast, and the ladies were convinced that we were not "pam-pam" (full), but we convinced them that we were and they let us go with a suspicious look.  Between breakfast and lunch, Hannah [Waldo] and I were excited to to start learning and have as many conversations as possible. However, we were reminded that no one spoke English (the daughter had left for work), so we just sat on the entrance steps and saw one of the ladies do laundry.  At first, we felt frustrated: was this all we were going to do for a week?

But as time passed and the bad feelings melted, and we were filled with the realization that there was nothing else we needed to be doing in that moment.  The chickens seemed to be playing tag, and the ladies talking to each other.  It didn't matter that we couldn't understand, it was enough to be there sitting with these ladies whose wrinkles hid so many stories.

The next day we were lucky and we were trusted with one of these stories.  When they were 22, they lived in Mozambique during the times of war.  They had to sleep in trees to avoid getting killed at night and there was no school for them to attend.  Their husband (they share a husband) was working at the gold mines and they walked for two entire days through Kruger National Park to come live in the safety of South Africa.  They did not have much food, but at least they were not in constant fear of being killed.  We could see the pain in their words even before they were translated to us and with this new understanding of where they came from, we felt even more at home.

As the sun went down, Salvation, who was 13, asked us if we wanted to learn how to dance.  Of course, the answer was yes.  She started to shake her hips in a huge traditional skirt from side to side and when it was our turn we couldn't even do it half as fast as she did.  Over time we got better...I think.  The laughs from kids and elders filled the room and they asked if we could show them our dance.  Hannah did not have any interest in showing hers, so we connected my iPod to the speakers.  Salsa music burst out and each of us grabbed one of the girls.  At first, they were confused about the steps, but then they quickly got it and got really into it.  We spun around for an hour until our heads were all sweaty...Bucket baths!

After having "pap" every dinner for a week, our fingers did the movement of eating without even thinking about it.  We had mastered charades, the long-drop toilet did not smell anymore, and we were experts at the bucket baths  We had to leave, but we know we always have a family waiting for us in Islington.

TTS Halloween
Hannah L., California, Junior
Marisa T., California, Sophomore

On Hallow's Eve, cheeky baboons ran about,
And trees cast sinister shadows on the campground.
The TTS girls prepared for a night of mischief and magic.
Once the sun set, our alter creatures came out,
Lions, tigers, and cowboys were roaming about.
We dined on monkey brains and bobbed for crisp apples.
Trick-or-treating occurred, but not house-to-house,
We went from tree to shower stall, to Big Blue, to the laundry house.
Candy was received, but it wasn't a simple task,
We had to sing a lullaby, and make a teacher laugh.
Scary stories were told, filled with ghosts, demons, and fear.
We ran straight to our tents when we saw that the coast was clear.

Interview with Quinnie 
by Ava S, Montana, Junior
Quinnie and a furry friend
If sunshine was a human its name would ne Quinnie Mawhinney. Quinnie is a twenty-four year old Montana native who loves the outdoors and working with teens. At age sixteen Quinnie journeyed with The Traveling School to South-western Africa. She recalls a solitary moment in Namibia on a hill that she describes as “Pride Rock”. Gazing out over the endless landscapes she watched wild animals roaming as the hot sun baked the earth. Inspired by the semester and her passions, Quinnie has returned as a teaching intern adding extra hands to the staff and spreading positivity among the girls. I had the privilege to sit down with Quinnie to ask about her journey thus far.
Since her semester in 2006, Quinnie has continued to find inspiration from her time with TTS. “It re-inspired me to love learning”. She comments. Quinnie reflects that the knowledge she gained on her semester was practical giving her the confidence to travel alone. Because if TTS’ positive influence, Quinnie has returned to give that gift to other girls.
“It feels really wonderful to make a full circle”, she says Quinnie is surprised with how dynamic and demanding the teacher role is. Not only does she co-teach Science, iLife, and Global Studies, but Quinnie also leads crews and manages the TTS blog. However, despite her leadership roles she continues to learn and wants to attend classes. Ultimately, Quinnie is thrilled to be back with TTS, explaining and impacting girls’ lives.
Outside of The Traveling School, Quinnie works to combine her love for the outdoors and teens. She created an Environmental Summit for middle schoolers, a day where students learn sustainable farming and environmental practices. She also works closely with disabled teens taking from outdoor adventures and encouraging them to try new things. Looking, forward, she hopes to het her masters in counseling to continue her interactions with teens. Quinnie says that she is proud of the work she has done and looks forward to continuing the pursuit of her passions.
Quinnie Mawhinney’s compassionable, encouraging attitude has a brightening effect on those around her. I am truly grateful that she will be an integral part of our school our journey and our family here at TTS.

Interview with Violet W
by Maris B, Wisconsin, Junior

Violet reading to school children
I first met Violet when she hopped out of a bright yellow taxicab in D.C. first day of orientation. She had a bright smile and giant duffle to match mine and the other girls. At first Violet came off as shy and to be fair we all were. Later, after talking to her more I learned what an interesting diverse person she is.

Violet lives in Manhattan with her dad and little brother. She loves taking photos and plans on being a photographer when she’s older. She bakes pastries and hikes around the city. I’ve noticed Violet likes small things, for instance she told me “I keep my window open all winter because I like snow”. When I asked her why she said, “Because its quiet and pretty”. She also loves riding the train because she doesn’t have a car and she enjoys watching things blur by.

Violet likes her emotional space. She goes to museums or explores parts of New York. There are a few special places she likes to go. Inwood Park in Harlem for example, or on her road looking at the city and gathering herself.

While in Africa she still manages to get this time in. Every morning at 5:30am, when everyone is still asleep, Violet climbs outs of her tent and finds a quiet place to sit and read a book (more recently Hemingway). On one of these occasions I found her perched on a huge grey boulder looking at the waves at Lake Malawi.

A pivotal moment for her was when she realized that being alone didn’t mean you were the ‘lone wolf’ and that its perfectly fine too not be social all the time. She was happy to understand that emotional space is healthy for a person that can take energy from alone time. She says that being emotionable stable is incredibly important to ones well being and making good choices to protect her emotional well-being is vital.

It’s incredible that Violet has managed to figure out exactly what she needs be it cake or a walk in the park. Violet understands the world’s simple beauty and she knows that life isn’t about moving from one activity to the next, it’s about stopping to enjoy