Since 2000, Grinnell College has annually sent two recent graduates to teach English and other subjects for one year each at St. Rodrigue High School, an all-girls’ Catholic school high in the mountains of Lesotho, a country slightly smaller than Maryland and completely surrounded by South Africa. The program was founded by George Drake ’56, president emeritus of Grinnell College, who taught at St. Rodrigue as a Peace Corps volunteer with his wife Sue Drake ’58 after George finished his presidency. The teachers, referred to as fellows, are a part of the Grinnell Corps, a collection of six domestic and international service programs which allow recent Grinnell graduates to use their talents and abilities to benefit their local, national, and global communities.
Grinnell Corps: Lesotho fellows live in the most rural and logistically challenging of all six programs. The house that the fellows live in – the same house where George and Sue lived – does not have electricity or hot running water, although cell phone reception has recently reached them in the mountains. Fellows go to the capital city, Maseru, about every three weeks, taking a crowded four-hour bus trip each way to purchase groceries and make contact with their families. The classes they teach are large, with about 40 students in each section.
Despite these challenges, teaching in Lesotho gives the fellows the opportunity to experience tremendous joys, as the photos in this gallery demonstrate. St. Rodrigue is located on a hilltop in the middle of a beautiful valley, and fellows have the ability to build meaningful, important relationships with their students, fellow teachers, and the small community they call home for one year. Fellows usually find that their lives slow into a steady rhythm, allowing them to find pleasure in the core values that the Basotho people have enshrined in their national slogan: “Khotso. Pula. Nala.” Peace. Rain. Prosperity.
These photos were sent to Grinnell by one of our current fellows, Kaitlin Alsofrom ’10. Kaitlin arrived in Lesotho in July 2010 to begin her year of service. While all Grinnell Corps: Lesotho fellows serve for twelve months, they arrive on staggered six-month start dates, ensuring that one fellow is always well-oriented to life in Lesotho.
For her first six months, Alsofrom served with Rachel Glass ’09. Glass recently finished her service in Lesotho, and has been replaced by Sara Montolla ’10.
Want to learn more?
- Come hear Glass talk about her year in Lesotho on Thursday, January 27 at 8 p.m. in ARH 120. Her talk is open to the public.
- View more of Alsofrom's photos in her Facebook albums:
- Read about other Grinnell Corps programs in Thailand, China, Namibia, New Orleans, and in the city of Grinnell. Applications for the 2011-12 Grinnell Corps fellowships are due on Monday, February 7.