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.

Trainees in the Environment sector of G8 have been in Bekoji for almost three weeks now. Seeing as I’m the only foreigner living in town, it’s been nice to have a few Americans to link up with from time-to-time. It’s also been nice to hand over the duty of lifting up children. I was starting to get tired.

G8 bustin' a move upon arrival to Bekoji
Last Thursday marked the first in a weekly series of academic competitions for students at my assigned school, Tigil Fire (pronounced Free). I’m still not entirely clear on how everything was organized and what the exact guidelines are, but it was cool to see and exciting as a plus mark on the side of the school for fostering love of learning amongst the students. 

Grade 6 Academic Competition

Grade 5 Academic Competition

Some of the Environment trainees showed up at the school to do a presentation about trees. It was a fantastic display of both fundamental science and active learning for the students. I’m stoked that the teachers got to see such fine examples of the kinds of approaches I’d like to help instill in the school. It also made me wish one of the trainees was placed in Bekoji so the students could see these presentations on a regular basis. Maybe G9…

Mission: Bring Baseball to Ethiopia is starting to make its way around the basepaths. I’ve had some great conversations here and there, and even a few ball-toss and wiffle ball sessions. People are very interested in learning about the game, and no one has yet to oppose the general idea of baseball in Bekoji. The real kicker, though, is that I received a message recently from a Volunteer named Ryan up in Tigray. He’s a huge baseball fan, and came here with the same mission in mind. Even better is that he used to work for MLB and has already garnered some support from the industry. I cannot possibly express how out-of-my-mind excited I am about this recent development.

I made a burger last week. Actually, I made two, since a quarter-kilo of minced beef goes further than I expected. It was amazing. It was the first time I ever made a burger from scratch. Ever. Locally harvested and prepared beef, onions, tomatoes, and bread paired nicely with Velveeta cheese and pre-cooked bacon, thanks to my buddy Steve’s care package. Unreal.

I discovered some sort of wild-growing-fluffy-ball-on-a-stick doubles as a natural bird feeder. Foad and I brought back a couple of said specimens from our walk to the local waterfall yesterday, pretending that they were giant microphones the whole way home (I was doing my best Teddy Afro “Izoooo! Izoooo!”). We casually jammed our procurement into my window great. This afternoon, two delightful little birds kept coming back and feeding off of the bulbs, singing to me all the while. 

You better believe I’ve made a point of rejuvenating the spirit here and there by taking in some of the amazing scenery this place has to offer, especially the sunsets. The more I explore Bekoji, the more apparent its endless beauty. 

Mt. Kaka - 2nd Highest Peak in Ethiopia


  1. Super sweet! In one picture, the first one in this article in which you are seen, when I saw the thumbnail version of it, I thought that you had dyed your hair bleach-blonde-white. Then I saw the full sized version, and a sigh of relief filled my body as it was your knit hat that decieved me. Don't get me wrong, I love you unconditionally, but I wasn't sure if Jake would recognize you with bleach blonde hair!
    Good stuff in this post!

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