Article I wrote for The Ethiopian Herald, recounting my past two years living and teaching in Ethiopia:
After two years in Ethiopia, living and working here on behalf of a U.S. State Department-sponsored Teaching Fellowship, I will be leaving next Thursday underneath the shade of August’s Full Moon. Spending about a month or two in California before going back overseas to continue Teaching, it will be the remembrances from my time in Ethiopia which I will take with me as I continue along this journey. A historical landscape dotted with people who have taught me to think differently, I am grateful for the time I have spent learning and growing here, both as an individual as well as a teacher.
When I first arrived in the Fall of 2014, it was with an unlimited curiosity about a place which I admittedly knew little of. Yet from the Highlands of the plateaus which define the topography surrounding the capital, to the Rift Valley which cuts through the rural lowlands like a Serpent, my interest in the varied regions of the country grew, as did my understanding of the myriad of regional peoples which formulate this ever-growing population. Within my classrooms too I saw the diversity which creates beauty, Oromos sitting next to Amheras, both working in groups with Somalis. Through the students’ dialogues and discussions, it became clear that unity trumped the separation of language, with individuals working in cohesion, not difference, to expand their worldview through common threads.
In my capacity as an English teacher, I have had incredible opportunities to travel fairly extensively throughout the country, lecturing in Ambo, presenting in Hawassa, and training in Harar among other locals. From these regional places I have gained insight into an educational culture which I otherwise would not have been able to experience had I not chosen to teach under African skies. Students here possess the same desire to learn as their counterparts I have worked with in Asia and the Americas, each understanding the importance of an expanded worldview through English language attainment. And while they may not be supplied with the necessary equipment which constructs a sustainable learning environment, still, these students recognize their own valuable contribution to the class, and following, what they can do for themselves and their country with the obtainment of a quality education.
While life in Ethiopia can sometimes be challenging, I have learned to understand it more as a two-year course in changing perspectives – seeing through the clouds of despair, peering up to that peak which the Sun drenches with light. Similarly, I am thankful to all those I have worked with within the Embassy (especially PAS), providing me with resources, tools, and most importantly, outlooks, which have helped guide me along the paths I have traveled since arriving in October of 2014. Following, I now have a renewed appreciation for home, the United States of America, and the mores upon which she stands, aiding in the help of others across the world, diplomatically, economically, socially and of course, educationally.
If I never had these experiences within an Ethiopian context, I fear that I would unknowingly be travelling down the highway of regret and across the oceans of indifference. Yet as I finish up a teaching assignment which has challenged me in ways I never thought imaginable, I look forward to what lies ahead, while remaining cognizant of the lessons I have learned here, each of which has redefined who I was, questioned who I am, and shaped me into who I will become…