The other day I was looking at film I have of our 2nd interview, and I thought to myself: ‘Wow I am really in Ethiopia… this is crazy’. The film and the interview take place in a a northern neighborhood of Addis. In this area of the city there is no running water. There hasn’t been for around 2 years. Instead, the government has a water tank that they fill 2x a day. For the interview we went to see the lines that cue at the tank. The residents here (mostly children and women, as well as young men who make this their business) fill these 20 lb – 40 lb jerry cans again, and again throughout the day so they have enough to wash with, clean with, cook with and sometimes drink. 20 jerry cans are needed to do laundry for a family, to give you an idea of just how often they come to the tank. Each jerry can is 20 cent bir and they hold 20 liters. Please look for our upcoming final project to listen to the interviews and learn more about this area.

I say all this in part to tell you that sometimes I am just shocked that I am here in Ethiopia. It is a beautiful place and I love it, but it is still an adjustment. Today we went on our 4th interview. We have left Addis for the first time and have traveled southwest to a city called Jimma. We have a contact here who is pretty much amazing. He invited us to a graduation today, and Phoenix and I were very much looking forward to it. At first we thought it was his graduation (his 2nd BA), but we missed that by one day and instead went to the secondary school where he teaches environment, sustainability and chemistry. Today happened to be the 9th grade graduation (about 500 students in a school well over 1,000 for 9th and 10th grade – with only 14 teachers). We were shown the school grounds and then ushered into meetings with the school leaders. We learned about the good work the school is doing despite limited resources, and they bragged about the quality of teachers they have at their school (I am a big fan of schools that love their teachers since my husband is a teacher). After we learned about water issues in the school and in Jimma at large, we were asked to sit under a tree to join the celebration. We were given a seat of honor next to the principal and other leaders. It was again one of those surreal moments where I just couldn’t believe where I was. Colorfully dressed women and girls, and dapper men and boys squeezed into the school benches they brought out from the classroom. This meeting under a tree included traditional songs and music, drama and long-winded speeches from many people. Awards were given to the top students and the crowd looked on with pride as these star pupils were given dictionaries wrapped in shiny Christmas paper.   DSC_0024DSC_0042DSC_0051DSC_0094

As I look at Ethiopia all around me, I am continuously in awe that I get to be apart of it, even for a short time. I am learning so much and it has already been a great adventure.

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