Mar 20, 2016

Ethiopia: "Oh, ya, I have a job."

After almost 2 weeks of reunions, travel, and touristing in Ethiopia, it was time to get down to business and acknowledge that we were actually in Ethiopia for work purposes.

The real reason we were summoned to Addis was to attend the English Language Fellow Africa mid-year conference. Each region of Fellows has their own conference at the 5 month half-way point to bring everyone together, get new ideas, encourage each other, plan upcoming events, and network.

Twenty five-ish fellows and our bosses conjoined from across the continent at a hotel in Addis where we spent 3 days in workshops for ourselves - re-examining US policy towards soft diplomacy and realizing though our countries are very different, our experiences as fellows are not so different. After 3 days of sitting in the hotel, we had a day off  and then gave a two day conference for Ethiopian Program teachers and university lecturers. My Rwandan co-fellow Robert and I did a presentation on active learning strategies for large groups (more than 80) students. It was work, but it was good work.

One of the greatest takeaways of this fellow program for me will be the other fellows. The fellows this year in Africa are stellar. These are my people. The kind of people who quit stable jobs to go live in Africa and teach, because you only live once. The kind of people who discuss books, who complain about inefficiencies in learning systems around the world, and who truly believe that each class makes a difference because true change is people based not technology based. I love these smart, interesting, culturally aware people.

The countries represented were: Mauritius, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, Gabon, Niger, Senegal, Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Egypt, Ivory Coast. Our Fellow in Ivory Coast was with an American delegation that was scheduled to be at the restaurant that was attacked last week. Her group decided to visit a museum first, and thus was spared. This incident hits close to home. Our girl is safe, and for that we are thankful. I was originally matched to this job last summer and ended up in Rwanda instead. This stuff is real. Keep West Africa/Ivory Coast in your thoughts. 

I was reminded yet again of the broad scope of programs that our government is involved in. Each with it's own agenda and initiative. I'm proud to be a fellow here in Africa. While my fellowship has not been exactly what was expected, it's still a rollercoaster I'm happy to be riding. Especially with these crazy teachers along for the ride.

team Rwanda...always so serious 

Couldn't seem to get a decent group pic, ha. 

team East Africa with our trusty boss

team Rwanda filling out visas for..... somewhere awesome, TBD! 

2/3 of team Rwanda talking about large classes and how to deal effectively 

that's a handy name 

white girls in kitenge. one of my favorite things. 

international gift exchange night! 

Sudan, Namibia, Rwanda, Malawi represent. 

mid-presentation photo because...we can. 

Gabon Dave letting the crowd in on some teaching tips

more white girls in kitenge. 

Proposal and grant writing session

Korean dinner! 

With the US Ambassador to Ethiopia and representatives of the Ethiopia Ministry of Education

walk slow. xoxo. 

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