Among the Maasai: A Memoir

Among the Maasai: A Memoir

by Juliet Cutler

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Overview

In 1999, Juliet Cutler leaves the United States to teach at the first school for Maasai girls in East Africa. Captivated by the stories of young Maasai women determined to get an education in the midst of a culture caught between the past and the future, she seeks to empower and support her students as they struggle to define their own fates.



Cutler soon learns that behind their shy smiles and timid facades, her Maasai students are much stronger than they appear. For them, adolescence requires navigating a risky world of forced marriages, rape, and genital cutting, all in the midst of a culture grappling with globalization. In the face of these challenges, these young women believe education offers hope, and so, against all odds, they set off alone―traveling hundreds of miles and even forsaking their families―simply to go to school.



Twenty years of involvement with this school and its students reveal to Cutler the important impacts of education across time, as well as the challenges inherent in tackling issues of human rights and extreme poverty across vastly different cultures. Working alongside local educators, Cutler emerges transformed by the community she finds in Tanzania and by witnessing the life-changing impact of education on her students.



Proceeds from the sale of this book support education for at-risk Maasai girls.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631526725
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 382,240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Juliet Cutler regularly returns to Tanzania and serves as an advocate for girls’ education worldwide. As a writer, her literary and professional publications number more than two dozen, and she has taught writing in many settings. She holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and a BS in education from the University of North Dakota. When she’s not writing, Juliet consults as an education and exhibition specialist for museums, parks, and cultural centers throughout the world.

Preface

Prologue:

A School for Maasai Girls



It took Neng’ida, Miriam, and many of their classmates more than a decade to tell me their full stories. By then they were in their midtwenties, and I was in my midthirties. Though we were still young, we’d been tested, and through this, we’d come to trust one another. We understood that though we came from vastly different places, our lives had intersected for a brief, seminal period in time. We’d shared something—we’d all been transformed by a school in the heart of Maasailand.



Within a few months, at the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999, we all left our respective homes to follow the pull of some- thing we felt was greater than our individual existences—perhaps it was a desire to help others, or a belief that our lives should be lived on the edge of what was possible, or maybe we simply sought knowledge or a better life. In some cases, including mine, the allure of adventure held sway.



My students’ motives certainly fell into much more immediate and pressing categories than my fanciful and high-minded reasons. At the age of fourteen, Neng’ida ran away from her father and a marriage he’d arranged for her. Half a world away, at the age of twenty-four, I thought I could help. In some ways, I was right, but in many ways, I would learn, I was wrong. Helping others and empowering others are not always the same thing. Neither are sim- ple matters, particularly for outsiders, but I didn’t know this yet. If I had, I might never have gone.



That said, Neng’ida, her fellow students, and I all guilelessly stumbled our way toward each other and the Maasai Secondary School for Girls, and today I believe we would say that we are the better for it. Here’s why.

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