Wednesday, November 19, 2014


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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment