Happy Birthday Ameerika!!!
It has now been about a month here in Ethiopia. It is weird because some days it feels like I haven’t been here that long and then other days I feel like I’ve been here for years. I’ve been in Gonde, my CBT (cultural based training) site for about two weeks living with my host family and until recently learning the official national language Amharic. I want to take this time to introduce you to my host family. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a whole family photo yet but before I leave in Mid-August to move to my site I plan to get one. Anyways, I’ll start by telling you who lives in my family’s compound. Meaza is my host father. He is a Statistician and has been gone away on business pretty much the whole time I’ve been living with his family. Abayenesh (she goes by Abay) is my host mother. She is a house wife as is tradition for women in most rural Ethiopian households. Her favorite pastime is telling her ferenji (aka foreigner aka me) to “bela” or “eat”. She is trying to make sure I am healthy and eat well but it can be overwhelming because “bela” is repeated several times throughout each meal. I’m still getting used to that. Helina my little host sister is 14 and loves to laugh at me as I try to speak her language. One of her man tasks other than helping her mother around the house is helping translate for me because she does speak a little English. Abebaw or Bobbie is my little host brother who is 11. Bobbie is Bobbie and although I’m not sure what he is saying it is custom for him to get everyone’s attention at meals especially dinner when we are all together and make some grand speech. I don’t understand but it sounds quite intriguing every time. Abay’s mother Mamiti (they call her Mami) also lives on the compound. I don’t interact with her much because she is deaf but I’ll wave at her and give her a small bow when I pass her room on my way out. A slight bow or at least a nod of the head is customary in Ethiopia when greeting someone. Finally, we come to “Nurse Sister Light”. Sister Light is not an official member of the family but she lives in the compound and runs the clinic which is located on the compound so she is considered to be family in a way. Her name means light in English so that’s what I call her. She is also a nurse so I combine all of the above to get her name. She speaks some English but the vocabulary she chooses sometimes is quite interesting. For example common phrases from Sister Light are, “relaxing of the muscles (as she moves her shoulders back & forth),” “no matter,” “Toniii, why?,” and my favorite so far has been, “Tony water input.” Whatever she decides to say it always makes me smile. There are many frequent visitors to the compound but these are the people that I see and interact with the most.
When I’m not at home I’m either having language lessons or cultural awareness sessions in Gonde. Once or twice a week I have to go to my hub site in Assela for technical training or security sessions with other fellow trainees from nearby towns. As I mentioned before until recently I was learning Amharic, the official national language of Ethiopia. Now I’ve switched to Afan Oromo. On June 30th in Assela we had our Site Announcement ceremony. All of the volunteers in my group received their sites where they will live and work after pre-service training is over in Mid-August. I was placed in Sire, which is located in the west Oromia region of the country in the Welega zone. I’ve been assigned to the Sire Melestegna primary school where my main task will be to work with the teachers to improve not only their teaching methods but also to help develop their communication skills and listening skills among others. As I have recently found out, I will only be teaching my own class once or twice a week at the most. The rest my time will most likely be dedicated to teacher trainings and running an English club. There will be other things I’m sure that pop up to do but those will come once I get to know the needs of my host community. I am now back in Addis Ababa because this weekend all of the volunteers will travel to their respective sites for a weeklong site visit. Here in Addis we will soon meet our counterpart or person from our host community who we will travel with to our site and who is responsible for helping us get settled into our new home the first few months. For the duration of my site visit this upcoming week I’ll meet the local school administrators at my host school, local town officials, my soon to be site mate “Princess”, set up my bank account and personal P.O. Box so all my friends and family back home can start bombarding me with letters and care packages and I will try to get to know as much of the town as possible. This shouldn’t be hard since it is a town of approximately 17,000 people. That may sound big but it is actually on the small side. Here are a few other things that I know about Sire: it is cold and rainy during the rainy season, hot and dusty during the dry season, is approximately a 7 hour bus ride from Addis the capital and about 2 hours from Nekemte the nearest big town where I’ll be able to use internet since Sire has no internet. I’m still processing all this information and I’m sure I’ll learn much more starting this weekend upon my arrival about Sire. My next post will be about my visit and how it went. Until then God Bless, and make sure to check out the “Contact Me” page and the soon to be added “Wish List” page on my main blog site.