NEWS & EVENTS

Press & Praise

“Juliet’s sense of place is palpable and the rhythm of her prose is entrancing. She writes with clarity and confidence, skillfully drawing the reader on and into her story.” —Women’s Memoirs

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Living Now Book Award

2019 – Among the Maasai wins the Living Now Book Award bronze medal for inspirational memoir by a woman.

The Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor the year’s best lifestyle, homestyle, world-improvement, and self-improvement books and their creators. The awards are open to all books written in English and intended for the North American market.

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Praise for Among the Maasai

“The book is a valuable record, showing both the successes and limitations of education. . . . [an] enlightening account of teaching in East Africa.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Written with passion and self-awareness, Juliet Cutler’s Among the Maasai offers a clear-eyed account of a white woman’s quest to be helpful in an African nation. Imparting the stories of girls and women she comes to know through her teaching, Cutler educates readers to the cultural intelligence of the Maasai, their dedication to family and community, as well as the particular costs to girls of traditional life in a changing world. At once memoir, spiritual odyssey, and cultural analysis, Among the Maasai is a gorgeous, honest book.”
—Elaine Neil Orr, author of Swimming Between Worlds

“This is a credible, brave work that reflects the stark realities faced by girls from the majority of Maasai society and the hurdles they face to achieving educational liberation.”
—Nengai Lazaro Benton, English teacher and graduate of the Maasai Secondary School for Girls

“With courage, Juliet Cutler confronts the complexities of privilege, race, culture, and self-doubt, as well as the paradox of helping others. She emerges transformed by lifelong friendships and with the conviction that empowering local leaders makes a profound difference. Among the Maasai is a compelling must-read for anyone working in developing countries.”
—Deborah Griffin, LCSW, former chair of La Gonave Haiti Partners

“This brave and heartfelt account of Juliet Cutler’s journey in Tanzania is an inspiring and important work. Through the intersection of her story with the extraordinary experiences of her young Maasai students, Juliet reveals the transformative power of education.”
—Herta Feely, author of Saving Phoebe Murrow

“Juliet Cutler’s insights into the lives and challenges of the Maasai people make for a compelling read and honest look behind the veneer of village life often seen by tourists.”
—Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman, PhD, coauthors of The Leopard Tree

“In a world where white saviors in Africa tend to reign supreme, Among the Maasai is a breath of fresh air. . . . this exceptional narrative is compelling, honest, and real. Cutler’s writing cuts through preconceived notions of what it means to cross borders and build relationships. A must-read for anyone who cares about educating girls in developing countries.”
—Daniel Ruth, executive director of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry

“This fascinating memoir chronicles the courage and tenacity of a young couple teaching in the heart of Africa. Juliet Cutler presents a frank account of the moral dilemmas she encounters as she plunges into a tribal society where young girls face many challenges, yet generosity thrives. Prepare to be inspired by the true stories of girls who struggle against repressive traditions to become educated young women making a difference in the world.”
—Gayle Woodson, author of After Kilimanjaro

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Review by Dr. Damaris Parsitau, Harvard University

2019 – Damaris Parsitau, PhD, Religion and Gender Studies, Harvard University; Echidna Global Scholar 2017, Brookings Institution; and founder of Let Maasai Girls Learn reviews Among the Maasai

Among the Maasai is a story of courage, determination, and resiliency told with empathy, honesty, and a great dose of humor in a way only Cutler could tell it. This book is not only engaging, but it is also captivating. It is as much a story of self-discovery and transformation, as it is a story of meaningful engagement with one of East Africa’s most misrepresented tribes.

Among the Maasai is much more than just another memoir! It provides a deeply thoughtful and accurate reflection of the myriad challenges that Maasai girls face in their quest for life-changing education. Yet, it is also the story of cross-cultural encounter told with empathy, grace, honesty, respect, and sensitivity to the Maasai people and their culture. Cutler deftly conveys how her work with the Maasai people transformed her life in deep and significant ways.

Among the Maasai is a must read for anyone in development practice, girls’ education, women and gender empowerment, and cultural studies. It is also an outstanding example of how to effectively write about indigenous peoples, and specifically the Maasai.”

Review by Readers’ Favorite

2019 – Lucinda E Clarke reviews Among the Maasai

Among the Maasai by Juliet Cutler is a memoir recounting the two years the author spent living and teaching in Tanzania at the end of the 1990s. Arriving with preconceived ideas and expectations, nothing was as she had imagined. She describes her feelings of being ‘on show’ with her white skin making her very conspicuous, the shock at the levels of poverty, the comparison with the society in which she had grown up. While there were mental challenges to adjust to, there were also practical problems too – a shortage of water, no internet, lack of familiar foods and necessities, the dangers of the local wildlife. Traveling with her fiancé, Juliet taught at the first school for Maasai girls in East Africa. The Maasai are a partly nomadic tribe spread across Kenya and Tanzania and are often viewed by other tribes in those countries as primitive. It had taken years of negotiations to set up and run a school.

Like many young people traveling overseas to third world countries to work among the disadvantaged, Juliet’s wish was to help educate and uplift the lives of the young girls she was employed to teach English. Fresh out of college, with little experience, she had no idea what to expect. This book is beautifully written and should be on the prescribed reading list for all schools to create an understanding of a culture that is so often misunderstood. I could relate to her experiences, applaud her soul-searching and her questioning of whether foreign aid is a blessing or a curse. She understands the fine balance between imposing a different culture and gently easing young people into the modern world. Encountering practices such as FGM, child marriage and girls sold for a few cows was a culture shock and in Among the Maasai, Juliet Cutler shares her sorrows and triumphs with the young girls she grew to love, conveying the idea that Africa will always remain with her. A wonderful book; it made me laugh and cry as I feverishly turned the pages. A book written with love which showed such empathy. I loved it. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.”

Review by Daudi Msseemmaa

2018 – Daudi Msseemmaa, senior adviser for Mwangaza Education for Partnership reviews Among the Maasai

“Two parallel stories of crossing cultural oceans are woven together in this beautiful account of transformation. For Neng’ida, it’s leaving a traditional rural life for school in a town. For the author, Juliet Cutler, it’s leaving an American life for a school in a small town in Tanzania that serves girls like Neng’ida. Cutler observes complex juxtapositions—intersections of wealth and poverty, modern and traditional, insider and outsider. She asks herself difficult questions—about her place in the business of helping, her motives, and the limits of her role as a teacher from a different culture. But there is powerful sophistication in her questions, as in her approach in general.

Cutler’s strength is her vulnerability, laying bare the uncertainties and inadequacies that became part of her experience. And with that deep introspection, her interactions become more human and real.

There is some despair as a witness to injustice—the kind that ends education and even ends lives. But throughout the book, Cutler finds ways to understand and direct her experience. In the process, she reveals post-colonial sensitivities of race and position, and cultural ones of gender and age. She discovers that helping and empowering are not the same thing. She focuses on her work as a teacher and ultimately supports initiatives that protect girls like Neng’ida.”

Review by Camille Griep

2018 – Camille Griep, editor of Easy Street: A Magazine of Words and Culture and communications director for Prison Renaissance reviews Among the Maasai

Among the Maasai isn’t another exotic locale-based tale of self-discovery. While coming of age is a theme within Juliet Cutler’s crystalline debut narrative, it is also an exploration of place, culture, education, women, expectations, and the story of what happens when these things intersect. The dichotomy of coming-of-age—which a young Cutler, as narrator, is just finishing while her Tanzanian students are just beginning—is deftly, respectfully, and thoughtfully centered. Cutler doesn’t usurp the tales of the young women in her tutelage; instead, her own journey as a wanderer, teacher, and young woman charting her stars serves as unobtrusive illumination into the vast network of her students’ necessary stories. Few writers are gifted with Cutler’s graceful ability to step back when necessary, balancing between her roles as narrator, observer, and participant. Among the Maasai is a must-read for anyone dedicated to the uplifting of women by women, the gender-education gap, and the beauty of perseverance.”

Review by Dr. Kenneth Cushner, Kent State University

2016 – Kenneth Cushner, EdD, Emeritus Professor, International Education, Kent State University reviews Among the Maasai

“On the surface, Among the Maasai is a testament to the determination of and challenges faced by many young Maasai girls who desire to gain an education in the face of multiple obstacles, and a school staff committed to changing the lives of these young girls as they confront a rapidly changing society. But this book offers much more. It is as much an insightful and engaging look into the day-to-day struggles of an idealistic, young American teacher in rural Tanzania, as it is a look at the transformation that occurs in the author’s life over time as she actively engages in a cultural community significantly different from her own.

This book raises challenging questions about personal and social transitions on multiple levels. We follow the author as she first sets out to change the world and is then challenged with questions about her place in this new community, only to find out that it is she—along with her students—who becomes the object of change. A thoroughly engaging and meaningful look into the struggles confronted by many indigenous societies today and the challenges faced by the educators who are at the forefront during these rapidly changing times.”

Women’s Memoirs Award

2014 – Among the Maasai wins a silver prize in a first-paragraph contest for women’s memoirs.

“Juliet’s sense of place is palpable and the rhythm of her prose is entrancing. She writes with clarity and confidence, skillfully drawing the reader on and into her story.”

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Amsterdam Quarterly Publication

2013 – A portion of Among the Maasai appears in English and Dutch translation in the Netherlands. Read more

© 2019 Juliet Culter. All rights reserved.