It has now been a month since I was sworn-in as an official Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia. I’ve been in my town of Aman for about three weeks since arriving around the end of August. For the last few weeks I’ve worked to introduce myself to as many people as possible in my community definitely to my colleagues at the Aman Primary school where I will do most of my work. My community integration has been helped along by many things, predominantly a countless number of Ethiopian Coffee ceremonies and the recent celebration of Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year on September 11th. New Year’s in Ethiopia is mainly celebrated on actual New Year’s Day unlike in the U.S. and many other countries that celebrate the holiday with festivities mainly being held on New Year’s Eve. Another fun fact to know is that according to the Ethiopian calendar, September 11 marked the first day of the year 2005. Can you say flashback? My New Year’s day was spent drinking a lot of coffee, eating a lot of delicious Doro wat (a chiken like stew with hard boiled eggs), drinking some sort of traditional barley juice that I never figured out what exactly it was called other than “juice” and the rest of my time was spent in bed recovering from my first disease here in Ethiopia. Yep, that’s right. On September 10, New Year’s Eve here in Ethiopia I spent the afternoon in the Mizan-Aman General Hospital doing lab tests and waiting for results. After giving a blood smear, urine and stool samples what they first thought to be malaria actually turned out to be two random parasites that found their way into my body, one being Schistosomiasis, a lovely disease caused by parasitic worms. Lucky for me, treatment was fairly simple. A couple pills and two other medicines, one to minimize the pain that came from the main medicine I had to take and a second for the other random parasite I had supposedly did the trick. As one of my fellow PCVs said, I have my first token down on my PCV Disease Bingo card. Not fun but definitely an interesting story to tell for the rest of my life.
Now that the new year has begun here in Ethiopia, that means school is soon to start. I say soon to start because I’m still trying to figure out the exact date. Things move a lot slower here and what I thought to be the first day of school last week supposedly is this Wednesday. So we shall see. The teachers and staff at my school have been preparing for the new school year by registering students for classes from Aman and other nearby villages. Some teachers and staff are still finding their way back to town after spending the summer away studying at different universities. This morning I found myself on the campus of the Aman Primary School along with what seemed like a million little Ethiopian students. It was a little overwhelming but I couldn’t help but laugh as I tried to make my way through the crowd as the children stared in amazement and shock and whispered and giggled to their friends at this amazingly strange being that just walked onto their school campus. Some kids ran up to shake my hand while others tried to say something in English as I walked by. The only clear thing I heard one boy say was, “I was born in Ethiopia.” After various teachers tried to get the students to go on their way, many decided to surround the little hut like house a group of teachers and I were in. I finally took it upon myself to introduce myself to a few of them saying that I was a teacher and what my name was. Slowly but surely they will get used to my presence.
As I’ve waited for school to begin, I’ve been hard at work trying to find furniture and other furnishings for my home here in Aman. Above you can see my new bamboo furniture set I was lucky enough to buy from a Russian missionary that will soon be moving to England after spending about four years here in Ethiopia. She had many other things that I was able to buy to not only get out of her house as she prepares to move but also to set up my house and make it feel all nice and cozy. Here is a link to some more photos of Aman and my home which is nestled at the bottom of the mountain in the jungle. Well, that is where I will end for now. Tomorrow I’m going to my school to possibly attend my first PTA (Parent Teacher’s Association) meeting. I’m hoping to be able to introduce myself to some more of the teachers as well as some parents. Oh and another piece of exciting news from the Horn of Africa is that a new group of about 57 new Peace Corps Volunteers are scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia to begin their pre-service training on October 3rd. That means I won’t be the newbie anymore. 🙂 Be sure to check out my new Care Package Wish List page and you can find my new address on my Contact Me Page. Thanks for reading!