25 October 2012

just a little update from ethiopia

As the countdown is on to the G7 (my Peace Corps group, the 7th in this wave of Ethiopia Volunteers) In-Service Training (IST) event (more parentheses to confuse you), I have been pretty busy gathering all of the elements to compile my Community Education Needs Assessment (CENA). The CENA is a 15-25 page document that will both display the work I have done so far in Bekoji, as well as lay the foundation for an Action Plan, to be developed at IST, that will guide my work for the coming nine months. Today was a milestone day as I finally started putting some of the puzzle pieces together to get a clear sense of what my CENA might look like. It’s been a while since I’ve written any sort of research paper, so even getting the started on actually writing the document is a big step. On top of all that, I just finished writing the second of two requested pieces of writing. The first was an “alumni” article for Solutions for Progress, where I worked before joining Peace Corps. The second was an article about Bekoji for The Herald, a quarterly publication aimed at returned Peace Corps Volunteers from the Ethiopia/Eritrea region. Keep an eye on the December 1st issue for my handiwork. Expect an announcement right up on this here blog once it goes to print.

This is all to say I’ve been a bit too busy to keep the eight or nine people who check here regularly updated on life in Ethiopia. But since I just finished the article, and officially got started on my CENA, I figured I’d take a little break and hit up some highlights, told mostly through pictures. Enjoy.

12 October 2012

so a ferenji walks into a bar…

If only I knew how to translate the punchline, I’d be more than happy to share the rest of the joke. This was essentially how the final hours of my Friday started off. I expected to be writing about how I taught real* Ethiopian students for the first time today, introducing baseball equipment, Scrabble, skiing, hide-and-seek, and key phrases such as “Go Phillies!” to four separate classes of 8th grade students (if you’re following closely, that’s roughly 200 new Phillies fans Phans). While that’s certainly nothing to snuff, there will be plenty of teaching experiences to come, but what followed is a bit more unique.

09 October 2012

the landscaping crew, hard at work

One of the nice things about life in Ethiopia is that you don't need to hire a landscaping crew, or even purchase a lawnmower. Just let your livestock take care of the work.

Pictured here are the sheep, calf, and mama cow that live on my compound. The previous PCV who lived in Bekoji, a Health Volunteer named Jen, called the big cow "Tractor" for how much vegetation she mowed down. That beast sure does some serious nom-nomming.

This crew as a whole is a primary source of daily entertainment for yours truly.

08 October 2012

excuse me while i clean up my slobber



Many endless thanks to my good buddy, Steve DeTurk, for this incredible care package. Nothing like a box full of goodies from DeTurkey. He even slipped in a little bit-o grandpa's medicine. Bravo, my friend.

If you wanna be cool like Steve, and be featured on the preeminent blog about a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bekoji, here's how: http://hewhoknowspatience.blogspot.com/2012/09/handle-with-care-updated-shipping.html

02 October 2012

we don't need no water, let the meskal fire burn

The timing of our group’s swearing-in ceremony could not have been timed better. Rainy season is tapering off, kids are excited to be getting back to school, and it’s holiday season in Ethiopia. The latest celebration was that of Meskal, which marks the “finding of the true cross.” According to our handy-dandy, Peace Corps-produced Cross Culture Workbook, when no one would show [Empress Helen] the holy tomb, [she] lit incense and prayed for help. The smoke drifted and beneath it she dug to find three roses, one of which was the True Cross of Jesus,” part of which resides in a church north of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The holiday is only recognized by the Orthodox Christian denomination, which is one of the major religious divisions in Ethiopia.

How is it celebrated? With fire, of course. Lots of fire. And bright costumes. And drums. And chanting. And lots of meat washed down with glass after glass of t’ella.

01 October 2012

it just keeps getting better

Victories as a Peace Corps Volunteer tend to come in small doses, often in the form of what might otherwise fall under the mundane outside of this context. Current volunteers imparted this wisdom while our group was still in training, with examples such as, “They put us up in hotel X instead of hotel Y and my day was made.” I have very quickly found this to be true. Last week, I wrote about three small interactions that totally made my day. So when a series of events comes along that leaves a PCV absolutely dazed with awesomeness, he has no choice but to write about it.