Southern Africa 2018-10-01T11:41:13-07:00

Southern Africa

Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa

Fall Semester, 2019 

Fall Semester Dates: August 20 – December 5

Potential activities on this semester include:

  • Experience Zambia’s wondrous Victoria Falls of the mighty Zambezi River
  • Float Botswana’s Okavango Delta in makoros with Tswana river guides
  • Study wildlife ecology in Chobe and Etosha National Parks
  • Engage in local communities by volunteering in schools and conservation organizations
  • Explore the Namib deserts’ diamond ghost towns
  • Paddle kayaks and camp along the banks of the Orange River
  • Participate in homestays outside of Cape Town
  • Encounter South Africa’s diverse cultures and evolving post-apartheid politics
  • Rock climb sandstone walls and rappel alongside cascading waterfalls
  • This semester is for you if you like: camping, ancient cultures, languages, sand, heat, wildlife, history, colorful markets.



 Academic Courses:

This two-credit class is designed to be a thought-provoking, discussion-based forum that teaches and promotes critical thinking and helps students make connections between reoccurring themes, ideas, and concepts from the semester. The class has two primary focuses: first, this class uses multiple methods to provide students with critical thinking tools essential for higher level reasoning and critique; second, Global Studies uses an interdisciplinary and transnational framework to explore regional economic, political, social, and environmental issues in the developing world in order to better understand how globalization operates in our world today. The class is divided into multiple units centering on different themes pertinent to the region in which we are traveling. Global Studies is team-taught and is a required class for every Traveling School student; it is designed to be an academic and reflective space for the entire group to work through the complex questions that arise from traveling in the developing world.

The class will pose important questions about the state of southern Africa today through an in-depth regional study. Drawing important connections between the political economies of the developed and developing world, we undertake a multi-scaled examination of the impacts of globalization on this region of the world as it relates to both the material conditions of everyday lives and the governmental structure and policy of southern African nations. We explore a variety of different topics on this semester: indigenous issues, human rights and the United Nations, race and power, and the politics of saving the world. Each unit engages diverse material coming out of multiple disciplines, schools of thought, and perspectives. Students contemplate and synthesize material through weekly Reflection, Reaction and Response essays.

The Global Studies course will also emphasize active world citizenship through community service and cultural exchange. Students perform approximately 20-25 hours of community service during the semester. During these experiences, students will study and understand local and regional issues and turn this knowledge into action. 

Final Presentation

Each student is required to give a final public presentation for a group of their peers when they return home. This presentation must be verified by a supervising adult and sent to The Traveling School for a final grade.

The Traveling School is an all-encompassing experience and this course helps students understand and manage the demands of being an individual in a group setting. Physical Education (PE) & Independent Life Skills (iLife) is a 2-credit class that focuses on academic, physical and emotional successes and challenges. The PE component helps students develop strength and cardiovascular endurance. Being an active participant in PE enables each student to be a productive member of the group and will help to keep the group physically healthy throughout the semester. Weekly iLife workshops help students develop skills to become a healthy, productive citizen who takes responsibility for personal well-being, as well as a social responsibility for participating positively in the larger community around them. These workshops explore key aspects of communication, group dynamics, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. The combination of PE & iLife will help students develop an awareness of balance and well-being. This is a participation-based class during workouts and class discussions. Students receive daily grades and will complete weekly budgets and other writing assignments to enhance the workshops.

Honors World Literature and Composition is designed to provide students with critical reading and writing skills, while they benefit from the uniqueness of our environment. Designed to expose students to an assortment of highly acclaimed authors from southern African or novels about the region, students read a minimum of two fiction novels. Students also read a variety of classic and southern African short stories, plays, non-fiction, essays, and poetry. This course combines reading with a rigorous writing workshop practice to develop writing skills. Students will maintain a series of portfolios and daily journal entries. Students are expected to produce three major compositions including an analytical essay as well as other genre-focused essays relating to novels taught during the semester. All students write and take responsibility for their writing through the use of journals, revision, peer editing, and portfolio techniques.

This course is designed to provide students with a thematic exploration of the history and politics of southern Africa. Students are asked to think critically about contemporary issues in southern Africa by framing the continent in pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial terms. Throughout the course, students will reflect on how Africa’s colonial past continues to shape its present realities. Using a historical lens, students will situate southern Africa within the larger context of global economics, politics, and social dynamics in order to study the ways in which colonial power relations such as race, class, and sexuality produce hierarchical social, political and economic realities for diverse groups of people on both local and global scales. Each unit of the course takes up a different theme and grounds it through specific case studies. In addition to this thematic study, students will engage with the geographic, historical and political particularities of each country we visit on the semester. Finally, students will build a variety of disciplinary skills including assessing and distinguishing between different kinds of sources, researching and presenting on various regional topics, creating and studying maps, interviewing and oral communication, and writing an historical essay. During this course, students will access, synthesize, and evaluate information to communicate and apply social studies knowledge to real world situations.

As we become an increasingly global society, responsible for the planet and its environmental challenges, we need to develop the skills to critically assess problems and logically develop solutions.  This course is designed to enhance student’s understanding of the natural systems that surround us, both in our immediate surroundings in southern Africa and worldwide. Through a hands-on interdisciplinary approach, students will use observation and inquiry skills to explore these surroundings and make connections. 

Students will read selections from journal articles, textbooks and other scientific literature, attend guest lectures, and participate in in-class discussions, lectures, and in-depth field studies.  With the diverse environments of southern Africa as our classroom, students will discover the value of observation and inference in science.  Unit studies focus on concepts of biology – from ecology to infectious disease, and geology. Students will explore the applications of these sciences into environmental science, conservation biology, and resource extraction in terms of environmental impact and sustainable development. This course is designed around and meets the Next Generation Science Standards.

This introduction to journalism course focuses on understanding and practicing various types of journalistic writing. Students will gain an overview of the field of journalism, including the legal and ethical responsibilities of the press. Students will understand news sources, how to gather information, understand reporting and be able to meet deadlines. Throughout the course, students will write news, opinion, editorial and travel articles. Students are expected to gather information through formal and informal interviews to learn how to incorporate quotes to strengthen articles. In addition, students learn the basics of photojournalism and digital photography. Students are required to create a final photo portfolio using various techniques and themes.

At the end of the semester, after returning home, students will individually complete an electronic Photo Portfolio submitted to The Traveling School and a final publication quality article with query letter and three supporting photographs submitted to The Traveling School and a publisher of their choice.

This course introduces the contemporary debate on the changing patterns and challenges of the global economy. Focusing on southern Africa, students will gain an overview of the global economy within the field of economic geography and its connection to issues of natural resources, development, international trade and foreign aid. The course encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and utilize experiential learning opportunities to investigate the phenomenon of globalization to gain an understanding of today’s increasingly interdependent world.

Throughout the semester, students will examine debates about types of foreign aid and the key organizations that drive U.S foreign assistance programs. Using case studies, students will explore the complexity of issues and dilemmas surrounding four major U.S. foreign aid programs. Additionally, students will examine the impact of international trade and foreign aid on the regions through which they travel.


  • The Traveling School cannot guarantee complete overlap between a sending school math curriculum and The Traveling School curriculum. Math curricula focus on the primary topics in each subject area. Our syllabi likely vary from the curriculum of each student’s home high school. Students must work with their schools to recognize these differences and, if necessary, be prepared to do any additional work necessary to stay on track with her home high school requirements.


Prerequisite: Algebra 1

Algebra 2 is a sequential curriculum that enables students to build the foundations for a strong understanding of higher level math. The first semester curriculum addresses numeric and algebraic expressions and functions, linear and quadratic equations and inequalities in one and two variables. Students learn to conceptualize, analyze and identify relationships among functions graphically and analytically. Students are encouraged to master the concepts of various problem types and solution tactics, and a graphing calculator will often be used as a helpful tool to solve problems and analyze data. During this course, students will connect with the mathematical procedures of problem solving and analysis, estimation, communication, associations and applications, and use appropriate technology.

First semester topics:

  • Linear Functions
  • Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Matrices
  • Quadratic functions
  • Introduction to Polynomial Functions



Prerequisite: Fundamental principles of Algebra

Precalculus topics include advanced subjects in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and other areas of mathematics. In addition to forming the foundation for study of calculus, the topics covered in this class have wide ranging applications in science, art, engineering, architecture, navigation and numerous other areas. These topics will help students understand the world in new ways while preparing you for a college level calculus class. Students will study concepts conceptually, analytically and graphically to gain an in-depth knowledge and variety of problem solving tactics for a range of problem types. During this course, students will connect with the mathematical procedures of problem solving and analysis, estimation, communication, associations and applications, and use appropriate technology.

First semester topics:

  • Functions and Graphs
  • Polynomial and Rational Functions
  • Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
  • Trigonometric Functions
  • Analytic Trigonometry
My semester opened my eyes to my place in the world and showed me what I wanted to be. I had conversations with people from all across sub-Saharan Africa, and I learned about history, literature, science, journalism, and life from their words. I came home with the confidence in myself and in my generation – the confidence that we can do big things. And it all counted the same as sitting at a desk.
TTS Student