Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's not about you

I walked to the top of a small hill near my home and looked out over the twinkling lights of the townships in the distance.  I became overwhelmed with apprehension concerning leaving this place I had grown so attached to.  I came to this place with so many expectations of what would happen.  There were so many things that I wanted to see and do.  There was knowledge I wanted to share and questions I wanted answered.  I thought to myself,

 If only I had more time…”

In my first weeks teaching, I began frequently conversing after class with a disinterested grade ten boy who I discovered sitting in back of the room and reeking of cigarette smoke.  His English was poor and our conversations were simple, but I could tell he appreciated the attention.  After a few months he shared with me,

“Sir, my home, it’s not good.  The roof has holes in it and my mother… we’re hungry.”

He would miss school two to three times a week to work as a door boy on a minibus taxi to make enough money to support himself and his mother. He continued,

“You’re my role model.  Help me learn, I need to pass.”

I’ve never felt more helpless after hearing that.  I thought,  “if I only I had more time, I could make a program specifically for him, I could give one on one attention every day.” Then I thought about it realistically and conceded that even if I could dedicate an entire month of individualized attention he would still be behind where he needed to be.  And even if I could somehow help him to meet his academic requirements, it still wouldn't change the fact that he presently lives in a hole-roofed shack and goes hungry most days.  To quote the South African author, Alan Patton, in his book "Cry, The Beloved Country",

“And were your back as broad as heaven, and your purse full of gold, and did your compassion reach from here to hell itself, there is nothing you can do.”

  As I sat there at the top of the hill, feeling sorry about what I wasn’t able to do in my time here, I was smacked in the noggin with a two by four of profundity.  I heard an audible voice in my head,

“It’s not about you”

It kept repeating,

“It’s not about you”

It’s not about what great things I can accomplish, or amazing results I can produce as a teacher, or even about how many students I can save from failure. It’s not about me.  This country will continue on just as my home country did when I left it.

After some convincing, I talked the boy from my class into meeting weekly with another one of the teachers from our school who would be there after I left. During my last week at the school, he came sprinting over to me excitedly,

“Sir, I had my meeting today!”

I smiled and he ran off to his next class.

 It's been a privilege to be a part of what is happening in this nation; to be a part of of the joys, struggles, sorrows, and successes. This experience did so much more than merely expand my narrow perspective on this big world.  A different perspective may alter your view, but experiencing a different way of life may change the way you live.

See you later South Africa.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why we hate math (And what Jimi Hendrix can change about it)

A queue of nervous looking students begins assembling by my cluttered corner desk in the staff room.  One by one, the line of learners grows until a brave girl in the front breaks the hush of anticipation. 

"Teacher may we see our marks from the past term?" 

 My least favorite task as a teacher is being the bearer of bad news, especially when it is on this scale.  Nearly every student in line was met at the end of the queue with number printed in red indicating that they had failed mathematics for the term.  With each revelation of their marks, I felt like I could hear a hammer pounding another nail into a coffin that was housing the students’ fading desires to care about learning this topic. 

"They're too lazy, they don't want to work!"

Exclaimed Mr. Zondi, my desk-mate and fellow teacher of grade 10 math.   I could see the frustration in his eyes as he finished marking yet another failing paper.  But, are they really too lazy? I've seen lazy students before and I find it hard to put these students in that category.  With a mandatory school day starting at 6:30am and lasting until 4:00pm, most of our students are out of bed well before 5:00am to make a lengthy journey in the dark to school either by foot or unreliable taxi.  The problem of poor math and science performance seems to be much deeper than just a lack of work ethic.

My students during exams
Why is it usually the case that when I meet someone new and they find out that I studied math (willingly) I am most frequently met with one of two reactions?  The first is like this :

“I hate math, it made my life miserable, you are a sick person.” 

The second, more congenial response is similar to this:

“Math huh?  Not my cup of tea, but we need more people like you” 

We know it's an important job, but we're sure glad that someone else is doing it.  Why is there such a negative attitude towards mathematics?  Why is it that the subject that describes literally every modern and technological wonder of our age is thrown aside and dismissed as “boring.” Students always ask, “When will I ever use this in my life?”  We’ve made the mistake as educators by trying to supply an answer to the question without showing them why they should appreciate mathematics for the marvel that it is. We fall into the trap of using the bribing system to teach math:

  “Hey kids! If you learn math you can become (fill in the blank with an awesome job like Doctor or Astronaut)”

Or worse we threaten them,

You best understand these triangle congruencies or you won’t graduate and you’ll live with your parents for the rest of your life!”

Neither method works because the education is presented as merely a means to an end.  It seems we spend too much time forcing students to learn robotic calculations without ever giving them a chance to generate a sense of wonder for the subject and its unrivaled beauty.  Imagine if we did this in any other aspect of education.  What if in English class we never read literature, but only studied grammar.  I’ve never met anyone who studied English because they love grammar and can’t get enough of admiring sentences written in the present perfect continuous tense.  Or what if instead of playing the game of basketball, high schools had students try out for the defensive shuffling practice group.

In a sense that is what we do with math.  We hand students a bunch of rules and formulas delivered in wordy, hard to follow text books and expect them to be excited about what they are learning (and score well on tests too!).   We rarely allow time in class for the attractiveness of the mysterious results found in mathematics to capture the curiosity of our students.  Teachers around the world have a stringent itinerary full of the basic skills they must present, leaving no room for fostering an admiration for math or creating a sense of awe concerning it.     

This is why we hate math.   

(I know hate is a strong word but I can’t think of a more appropriate use of it)  It’s been stripped down to nothing more than a mechanical process that you must learn to solve lifeless problems.  

Why do I not hate math? 

Because I am fascinated by studying the work of brilliant people throughout the ages who have encountered adversity in the study of numbers which took them on a mental (and often even spiritual) journey. I love to learn about the methods of people who were gifted with the ability to think outside the proverbial box to bring a brand new world of enlightenment and understanding to humanity.  What if we taught math with the goal of eliciting the type of response it deserves in a student? 

 One of the students named S'duduzo who I am teaching guitar to at school is left handed. When I found out he that he was a south paw I joked with him that he will be the next Jimi Hendrix someday.  S'duduzo looked at me puzzled because he had never heard of Hendrix before so I brought my computer over to show him a clip. His eyes lit up, not just because of the music he was hearing but because of what he saw.  

"His guitar is upside down, he took a right handed guitar and made it a left handed guitar!  He thinks outside the box, I am inspired!"

That reaction is exactly what we are missing in math education.  It's only once we can produce this kind of enthusiasm from students concerning math that we can start to see anything change in test results. Until we can show students how patterns and wonders are discovered in numbers and inspire them to think like the big names of mathematics past, we will be fighting an ugly losing battle. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Painted Desert

Note:  in an effort to let the natural appearance of the desert be displayed, I decided to not edit or enhance any of the following photos (except for 3 photos I took with my iphone that I brought the color up to match my nicer camera).  In other words, the desert actually looks like this in person!

Several years ago, I saw a photo that absolutely floored me.

 A photographer from National Geographic captured a collection of dark brownish leafless trees set against a bright orange backdrop and a soft purplish-blue rock floor, but It was so cartoon like in it's color and contrast that I thought it must be a hoax.  There's no way a place like this actually exists...  but if it does, I vowed that I would go to see it person some day.  After some research, I discovered that the photo was taken at sunrise in Namibia inside the Sossusvlei region of the Namib desert where some of the tallest sand dunes in world reside.  

Earlier this month, I found myself with a week off from teaching responsibilities and a mere two hour flight away from the place I had been dreaming of visiting.

My friend Bryan, who is here working for an NGO in Durban, just moved here a couple months ago and was looking to join me on my next holiday exploration.  I suggested we go to Namibia for a week.  Our interaction went something like this: 

Bryan: "What's in Namibia?"  
Mike: "The most beautiful desert you've ever seen"
Bryan: "You want to go to the desert?"
Mike:  "Correct"
Bryan: "For a week?"
Mike: "Yes"

...Some time later

Bryan: "I'm in"

Grace, another ETA from my program, took a little less convincing to join us into the desert because she was already planning a trip to the coast of Namibia.  Bryan and I flew into Windhoek (which is pretty much the only real city in the country) and met up with Grace before embarking on the long trip to Sossusvlei. 

 There wasn't a whole lot to see in Windhoek but I did meet some really interesting and friendly people and also learned a lot about the history of the country.  I won't bore you with details, but I learned a bit about how Namibia(known in the past as South West Africa), which was also under apartheid oppression, gained freedom around the same time as South Africa.  The people put their collective foot down against the oppression and engendered a legitimate armed military struggle against the government.  

Namibia is the least densely populated country in all of Africa and the drive to Sossusvlei from Windhoek was long, desolate, and almost exclusively on gravel roads.  The road seemed to go on eons and it was compounded by the fact that the poor quality of the roads restricted safe driving speeds to a veritible crawl.

If it wasn't for a lone road sign in the midst of vast nothingness we wouldn't have realized that we actually crossed the Tropic of Capricorn along the way!

And at one point we passed by a small settlement and found a man wandering the road and playing a worn old guitar as he strolled along.  

After a tiring day of driving, 

we set up camp for the night with still a hundred or so kilometers to go to our destination.  We were lucky to have an unusually warm night for winter in the desert.  We were unlucky that the warm weather also encouraged a large number of very large insects to hang out at our campsite.  

We rose about an hour before dawn the next morning to try to make it to the dunes by sunrise. 

 As the morning clouds lifted, we could spot the colossal dunes in the distance.

Photography does well at capturing the picturesqueness of the environment, 

but fails to properly present the sheer magnitude of the dunes.  These things were Massive!

We climbed up to the top of "Big Daddy" which is one of the tallest dunes in the area.  

Climbing these dunes is incredibly taxing.  

Each step brings you only a few inches closer to the top because your feet sink so far into the sand.  But those with endurance/stubbornness to make it to the top are rewarded with an other-worldly view.

The best part is sprinting back down to the bottom.  The consistency and depth of the sand allows you to literally run full speed down the 45 degree decent!

After a few hours of journeying, we discovered that the sands aren't as barren as we first suspected.  They are actually teeming with wildlife. 

It's not uncommon to spot Jackals on the dunes

But the real sight to take in is the Deadvlei salt pan which lies adjacent to "Big Daddy".  

The ground is covered in a naturally occurring salt-rock pattern that resembles a cobblestone walkway

And it goes on for hundreds of meters!

At the furthest edge of the pan you will find an ominous gathering of bare camel thorn trees.

Every photo taken of them ends up looking like a stock homescreen for Microsoft Windows.

A rare cloud filled day brought a nice texture to the photographs.

It's like Salvador Dali created a landscape and dropped it into southern Africa.

The dunes shift to a bright orange as the sun sets. Yes, they really are that colorful in person!

Sunrise at Deadvlei

But the most spectacular scene is witnessed just as the sun is rising to greet the east facing dunes while the trees remain in the shadow of the dunes facing west. 

 I returned early the next morning to try and recreate the photo that captured my imagination so many years ago.

The smooth lines created by the towering seas of sand and the vast openness of the patterned floor they surround give you the peculiar sense that you have left the world you know.  

While I reflected in the peaceful silence of the valley, I thanked God for the gift of seeing this remarkably surreal place with my own eyes.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sis comes to Africa

I am fortunate enough to have had my sister come stay with me for the past three weeks. Katie flew into Johannesburg and joined me and some of the ETAs for a tour of the city.  Within the first 48 hours of her visit we got to: 

see the Apartheid Museum, visit Nelson Mandela's house, watch two guys attempt (and fail) to steal our parked car, discover that those guys damaged the gearbox and we could no longer drive in reverse, tour the depths of Soweto into the wee hours with a friend from the township, get a flat tire, visit a full grown cheetah and take him for a walk, eat lots of great food, have our car backed into, and nearly miss our flight back to Durban.

It was really cold in Johannesburg, but we still had a great time.

After a hectic weekend It was nice to return to the relaxed atmosphere and warm weather of Durban.  The students were thrilled to meet Katie.  They had been asking me every week for the past four months when she would get here.

Katie was able teach some of the students ballet and they were happy to return the favor by teaching her some of their traditional dances.  "Your sister learns the dances much better than you Mr. Pflueger"

I was just happy to have someone to help me with grading exams.

In addition to helping out at school, Katie joined me for some other adventures in KwaZulu Natal. First, we took a boat ride to hang with some hippos. We got closer in distance to the hippos than any human beings should ever travel, boat or no boat. I'm glad they weren't the hungry hungry kind of hippos.

The best part about living near the Indian ocean is the water is warmer in the dead of winter than the Atlantic is... ever.  

Dancing queen came with me to the Drakensberg mountains too.

We wrapped up the trip by visiting the site where Mandela was captured before he went to prison for 27 years.

It was so good to share my home here with someone from back home. The students were sad to see Katie leave, but I think she'll be back again someday in the future.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Night on the Drakensberg

Our group of four had just completed a fairly challenging hike to the top of Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg mountain range and we were making our way back down the mountain.  I love climbing mountains, but my inherent fear of heights causes me to disdain descending them for the simple fact that you must look down.  The unparalleled sense of accomplishment and panoramic views achieved at the peak are always counterbalanced on the journey back to the base by a crippling sense of how little earth, grass, or stone is actually keeping your feet suspended in the atmosphere at such a great height.  I gave my eyes a break from watching my shoes as I turned back to observe Julian, a young German guy who was about to navigate a dodgy portion of the decent.  He was the last in our group to cross a difficult gap in the trail across a very steep and slick rock face with the slimmest of footholds.  Being the tallest and subsequently the heaviest of all of us, he decided to take a much less technical approach and use the slanted rock face as inverted runway.  I half expected him to come careening into me as he launched himself off of the grassy ledge.  His first foot hit the sloping wet rock but it provided him about as much traction as a sheet of ice and he began to tumble down the gap.  His rolling increased to a sickeningly accelerated pace as his flailing arms reached in vain for something to grab onto.  I watched like a petrified tree as he fell beyond the last visible ledge and completely out of site.  I braced for the sound of some sort of impact, but heard none.

Cathedral Peak looms in the distance

All of us had met each other the day before at a hostel near the mountain range. Julian, Marius, and Leoni were each students from Germany who were on separate solo backpacking adventures through the country. The four of us decided on a whim that we all wanted to climb to the summit of Cathedral peak so we set out early on a Friday morning expecting to return back to the lodge sometime time in the early evening.    Shouts from all of us went unanswered for the longest 45 seconds I've ever lived through.  In the devastating silence I pictured having to explain what I saw happen to his family.  Those grim visions were mercifully interrupted by a forlorn echoing voice from bellow.   I've never been happier to hear someone shouting in a goofy German accent.

The Drakensberg mountain range runs along the border of South Africa and Lesotho and is renown for it's spectacular scenery and millennia old cave paintings.  It is certainly a beautiful place, but it can also be a deadly one. Temperatures are severely dynamic and hikers are advised to be prepared to experience the extremes of all four seasons during a single day.  One minute it will be a perfect summer afternoon and in the blink of an eye you can be smacked with freezing temperatures, howling wind, and snow!

View from the peak
It was now 4:00 and it would be dark in less than two hours.  Miraculously Julian had survived the accident without imediate signs of broken bones or spinal injuries, but he was white as a ghost and we were worried he may have had internal bleeding from from his fall. after a mixture of tumbling and falling for about thirty meters he had hit hard on a ledge that stopped him within inches from free-falling another hundred meters or so.  Getting to the bottom would take at least 3 hours on healthy legs so hiking all the way back down with him was not an option.  After navigating Julian down to a grassy plateau, I checked my Nokia pay as you go phone (Which is the exact same model that someone in your family probably owned in the late 90's and has "Snake" the game loaded on it) and by some luck I had cell-service nearly three thousand meters above sea-level so I quickly phoned the Mountain Ranger and I explained our predicament.  The Ranger instructed us to leave one member of the group with Julian and a helicopter would arrive to lift him and Leonie off the mountain within a half hour.  We decided Leonie would stay with Julian while Marius and I would try to make it back to the base before it got to dark.

Marius and I left our extra sweatshirts and pants with Julian and Leonie just in case the weather went severe before the helicopter arrived.  We wished our soon to be airlifted friends well and set down the mountain. I had nothing with me but the t-shirt and shorts I was wearing and an empty pack which made the hiking way easier. We made great time down path and we were an hour or so from the base as the sun ducked behind the mountains to backs.  This is about the time that Marius asked me an important question I should have been asking myself more than hour ago.

"Did you ever hear a helicopter?"

I had this sinking feeling as I turned to observe the silhouette of Cathedral peak in the distance and realized that even though we had traveled a great distance away from our friends, we still certainly would have heard if a helicopter had flown anywhere in the vicinity of these mountains.  I quickly phoned the ranger and received the news I was afraid of:

The helicopter now wasn't going to arrive until the morning!

There was a rescue team being assembled to check on him but they weren't even going to arrive at the base of the mountain for another 5 hours and by the time that they hiked to where he was it would basically be dawn.  I tried phoning Leonie but the calls were going straight to voice mail so we had no way to let them know what was happening.  The temperatures on the mountain had dropped well bellow freezing the past few nights.  We couldn't just leave them hanging alone up there, we had to go back.  

But we had no food, no water, waning cellphone battery, and most importantly no warm clothing!

While Marius and I were exasperatedly discussing our options, a figure emerged from the shadows in the hill above and started traveling towards us. We hadn't seen or heard another human for hours and I would've been more startled if I wasn't distracted with trying to decide what to do about our situation. 

"Do you have some friends stuck on the mountain?"

We were asked by the mysterious walking-pole clad hiker.  We reiterated our dilemma to him and almost as if he was following the script of a made-for-television drama (No serious writer would include a plot twist this unlikely), guided us around the corner to a cave where he and a group of twenty or so hikers were staying for the final night of a week long expedition through the mountains.  At the mystery hiker's command, they began loading our packs with hundreds of dollars supplies. It was a scene reminiscent of the "Lord of the Rings" when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli each offer their weapons at the Council of Elrond in service of Frodo's adventure. Each of the hikers came forward and announced what they would be they would be contributing towards our journey back up the mountain. One by one they handed us everything they could part with: fleece jackets, space blankets, LED headlamps, boxes and boxes of energy bars and other snacks, hats and gloves.

Marius and I thanked our benefactors, flipped on our new headlamps, and began the trek back to the top. Time moves a whole lot more slowly on a hike when there is no visible scenery to take in along the way. As the adrenaline from our surprise encounter wore my pack began to feel like it was stuffed with a medium sized elephant.  Fortunately, the path was well marked and we could just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  When we finally made it back to our stranded friends it was like Christmas in May when we emptied our packs to reveal a multitude of goods. We had a small feast on all of energy bars, crackers, and biscuits.  In hindsight this may have complicated things if Julian had needed surgery that night, but we were fortunate that wasn't the case.  Our stomachs were full and we had enough clothes with us to stay warm until the rescue team could get to us. While the others attempted to sleep, I tried to pass the time by appreciating the stars. Even with the extra winter clothing, the sub-freezing temperatures were enough to rob all the enjoyment out of viewing a virtually light pollution free nighttime sky.

Eventually the rescue team arrived and was able to thoroughly look over Julian.  When I learned that the team was made up of volunteers, some of whom lived more than 3 hours away from the mountain, I felt bad for being so cynical of the rescue efforts.  But, I don't feel bad for being angry at the ranger who was a good 12 hours off with his prediction of when the helicopter would arrive.

The rescue team braces for the landing winds
Boarding the helicopter;  better late than never.
Marius and I were able to weasel our way onto the helicopter for a ride back to the base before they lifted Julian to a hospital in Durban.  Amazingly, Julian was released from the hospital with no serious injuries and I was able to pick him up the very next day.  Julian became a celebrity of sorts in the area for the next week because his story was featured on the front page of nearly every local newspaper.  (Check out one of the write-ups here: hiker-describes-30m-drakensberg-fall)

Happy to be back on flat ground (New style provided by the mystery hikers).

Leaving the hospital

Friday, May 30, 2014

The music of Zwelibanzi

Most mornings I rush straight to the nearest open desk to immerse myself in final preparations for the day's classes, clubs, and activities.  But no matter how pressing or important whatever I'm working on seems to be in the moment, I always find time to make it out into the courtyard for our morning assembly.  It's impossible to not be moved by the gift our students have for singing.

 I spotted some of my students huddled together behind the library.  I asked them what they doing, assuming it would be the sort of mischief that 8th grade boys would normally be getting into. They answered, "We are practicing our gospel singing, Mr. Pflueger."

The best part is they were telling the truth.

And lastly, my favorite tune:

In other music news,  I've teamed up an awesome guy I teach with known as "Mr. Arts" who inherited a collection of old beat up guitars.  Last week we refurbished and re-stringed them so we could start teaching some of the students how to play.  

We've got a few naturals in the group, and I can't wait to see what where their musical creativity takes them as they tackle a new instrument.

Side note: Mr. Arts told me that my blog was boring because there aren't enough pictures and videos, I hope this entry meets his standards.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Holiday Explorations

I have a ton of photos collecting dust on my laptop so it's about time to share some more. We had several holidays on the school calendar from April to early May, so I took the opportunity to explore some other areas of the country:

First I ventured out to the Western Cape.

Cape Town is an incredible place to visit, it could be one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen.

Overlooking Camp's Bay beach on the way up Lion's Head mountain..

C.J. and Grace and me before our climb

We wasted no time in exploring the scenery.  The views on the way to the top of Lion's Head Mountain were pretty spectacular.

Halfway to the top of Lion's Head

Taking it all in from the top

Lion's Head was awesome, but Table Mountain is the main hiking attraction by the city.

We had a good sized crew of ETA's, friends, and family members for this hike

The official flower of South Africa was to be found along the way
The mist on the mountain made for an awesome hike
Made good time to the top

The beach isn't too bad either

Even more stunning in person
Sunset over the Atlantic

Nearby to Cape Town is the rolling countryside of Stellenbosch which is where one of the teacher's in our program is placed.  

The ETA men, plus Justin


We also took some time to visit the cheetahs in the area.

Preparing ourselves for a Cheetah encounter

Nap time

just a big kitty cat

Robben Island

The island where Nelson Mandela was held captive is a little less than an hour's boat ride from the shores of Cape Town.

The ride to Robben Island

Welcomed to the prison in Afrikans

We were able to see the cell where Nelson Mandela spent the majority of his 27 years in prison.  

Madiba's cell

Long swim back to the mainland

Dr. J was against apartheid

The skies cleared up on the way back, but the waters got rough
Simon and I braving sea-sickness with a smile

  Cape Point/Simon's Town

We also traveled to the most South-Western point in Africa

boardwalk to the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good hope is where European explorers first arrived in South Africa as stopping point on their way to India.  This is also supposedly where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.  I've also heard that is not entirely true, but either way the waves were massive there and persistently crashing against the towering, rocky cliff faces.

The seas are violent but it's peaceful up here 

Found these guys enjoying the sunset

We saw some African Penguins along the way too.

Only a few weeks after arriving back from Capetown, I took a trip to Rustenburg.

The drive takes about 9 hours and I was able to ride with Mfana, who I teach with at Zwelibanzi.  We picked up his parents along the way who both happen to be deaf, so I had the chance to learn some South African sign language from them.  The trip there was a blast.

me and Mfana 

The King of the Bafokeng people owns the platinum mines in the area and he is insanely wealthy.  The ETA's from my program that teach in the area took me to see one of the secondary schools that the King single-handedly funded.  The school was unbelievably nice.

Courtyard of the school we visited

The areas near Rustenburg are not without their beauty.

We also made it out to a self-drivable game reserve.

met some giraffes

These two Elephants were dueling, and I only caught the tail end of the battle.  I was too pre-occupied with wondering if they were going to tumble onto us in our compact rental vehicle.  I missed the good parts of the fight, but I thought I should share it anyway!

Finally, I explored Lesotho and the Drakensberg Mountain Range 

Lesotho is a land-locked country inside of South Africa.  At one point they were supposed to become another province of SA, but corruption in the leadership prevented it.  Life is quite a bit different across the border.


Crossing the border

Lesotho is mountainous and windy.  It's not uncommon to see snow in the wintertime.

My favorite part of the visit was getting to see the primary school.  Mama Bope, the principal of the school and a former student shared with us about her experiences being an educator there.  The area of Lesotho that she teaches in has no electricity, no paved roads, and no access to proper health care.  It's uncommon for students to continue on to highschool if they plan to stay in the country because there are basically no job opportunities in Lesotho.   Most children return home to help their families with farming.   All that being said, none of those obstacles stop Mama Bope from having an amazing attitude and being an incredible teacher.  I hope I can come back to visit again. 

Mama Bope showing us the classroom she learned in as a student.  The outside.

No electricity means digital photography is a rare commodity.  The kids know to take full advantage of the opportunity to photo-bomb when it arrives.

Jumping photos were highly requested

one nice one

back to photo-bombing

After my visit to Lesotho, I decided to hike to the top of one of the peaks in the Drakensberg Mountain range.  The 'Berg is a special place and I was floored by the scenery. 

Looking out to Cathedral peak in the distance

Truly it was the most visually inspiring areas I have seen in the country so far.  My adventure there was also the most dramatic I have had here so far, but that is story for another post. 

 Stay tuned.