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My time in ethiopia, anne


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The case study made by Anne's about her AIESEC Experience in Ethiopia.

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My time in ethiopia, anne

  1. 1. As opposed to writing my Ethiopian experience in “article form”, I decided to compile everything into one huge case study. This, I found to be easier to put together as well as more detailed and neater looking.
  3. 3. So, I have been in Ethiopia for about 7 weeks now. It's been quite interesting, let me say. Although it had it's downs, the ups I had here, I hold dear to my heart. People, things and places in Ethiopia let me tell you about them.
  4. 4. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction  Meet the intern  What is AIESEC?  What is Africa In Me? 4 Untold Africa  La Scuolina  Fresh and Green  Joy Centre 5 ePIC Moment  Africa United! 14 Activ8 Joy  Up The Hill 15 Stories From Other Interns  Stefani De Roover  Chen Xi  Rebecca Gichuki 18 My Personal Experience 19
  5. 5. MEET THE INTERN My name is Anne Gichuki. I am a Kenyan citizen and a student at Daystar University in Kenya. I am 19 years old and I enjoy reading, meeting interesting folk and going on adventures. This summer, I went to Ethiopia on internship with AIESEC. In Ethiopia, I participated in the “Africa In Me” project. I was asked to write stories that set Africa in a multidimensional image – a positive image that the rest of the world could appreciate because contrary to popular belief, Africa is not a dying place. But, let us not get ahead of ourselves. Let me explain a couple of things first. WHAT IS AIESEC? The year 1948 marked the end of the second world war. Almost a decade of atrocities that should never ever be repeated. A group of university students came together and founded, “AIESEC”. A platform for young people to discover and develop their potential to provide leadership for a positive impact on the society around them. To do this, they figured the best way was to send students on exchange to different countries so that they could see how other people in the world live. This would develop intercultural relationships and encourage open mindedness and friendliness between people of different races, tribes and religions. Just as important, the exchange participant would have the chance to make an impact in this new society. A little goes a long way. True to this, now - over 60 years later, AIESEC is available in over 1000 universities across 100 countries all over the world. Through AIESEC nearly 300,000 exchanges have taken place and a multitude of lives all across the globe has been impacted. WHAT IS AFRICA IN ME? Africa in Me is a global branding campaign that aims to showcase the continent to the world to make AIESEC in Africa the first choice destination for internships globally. Africa in Me is based around an online portal,, as well as a set of activities designed to engage incoming EPs (exchange participants) during their stay in different countries in Africa and allow them to explore African culture as well as document their experience for their origin LC (local chapter), while showcasing on The purpose of Africa in Me is to promote Africa as a first choice destination for internships in the AIESEC network by creating a multidimensional image of African continent through stories of youth contributing to impact the society. Africa in Me activities are: ePic Moment | Untold Africa | EsSense | Activ8 Joy Alrightie! Now that we've got that sorted, let's continue. 4
  6. 6. UNTOLD AFRICA “Stories to inspire” (While in Ethiopia, I had the chance to visit 3 special schools. These schools have NGO backing and serve to educate the underprivileged children in the communities around them.) LA SCUOLINA This is a school started up by a local NGO, “ENPA” which is an abbreviation for, Education for Needy People Association. The “La Scuolina” school was started only 3 years ago (back in 2009) and, at the time, a piece of land in Kotebe area and a vision was all the people at ENPA had. They pulled their resources together and were able to acquire funding from well wishers – particularly a group of Italian teachers employed at various international schools in Addis Ababa. Today, the school has a playground, dining room, classrooms, toilets, offices and a kitchen. They have taken 75 students under their wing and the numbers keep improving. But aside from numbers, these children get a quality education. At La Scuolina, they also provide meals for the children. Now that schools have closed for the summer holidays, in the afternoons at La Scuolina, there is a group of older children who come from a local primary school (which is closed for the summer) to have afternoon summer classes. This is another 46 children. The classes officially offered at the school are lower kindergarten, upper kindergarten and nursery. The teachers at La Scuolina are kind and patient with the children (we all know how troublesome kids can be sometimes) and the whole school is always happy to welcome visitors. When my friends and I visited there, we were met with a warm smile from Mr. Kaleb. He is the school's manager. We got to have a chat with him as he showed us around the school. As he spoke, I could sense the sincerity in his words. For him, working at a place like this was quite the reward. He took us to all the classrooms and he spoke to the children like they were old friends. We got to introduce ourselves in each classroom and all the children were visibly pleased. I was also surprised at their command of the English language. It was not perfect, but they understood what we said and would reply when they could. After we introduced ourselves, we sat in on one of the classes that was being led 2 AIESEC interns. The interns had been teaching there for about 4 weeks now but the children still sat up and listened intently to what they were being taught. On that particular day, they learned about various means of transport and English greetings. After class, it was play time. The children all ran out onto the playground (dragging us with them) and we all made one huge circle – then the fun began. My friends and I had the chance to go down memory lane as the children sang popular nursery rhymes (in Amharic, though) and played childhood game after childhood game. At the end of that day, Mr. Kaleb asked us if we would come back the following day. The whole school was organising a hike up a nearby hill and we were invited. We promised to be back early the next morning and bade him goodbye. As we were leaving, all the children ran up to us and insisted on giving each of us a peck on the cheek. Several kisses later, we were on our way back to Mexico area. 5
  7. 7. La Scuolina gate from the inside Introducing ourselves to the kids 6
  8. 8. Play time Toys and arts and crafts tools used by the children 7
  9. 9. A couple of the kids at La Scuolina Welcome sign done by Mr. Kaleb 8
  10. 10. ENPA Sign Mr. Kaleb 9
  11. 11. FRESH AND GREEN ACADEMY The next school we visited was the Fresh and Green Academy right in the middle of Kotebe area. This school was started by a Ms. Muday Mitiku. Right after she was done with high school, thirteen years ago, she had a lot of free time on her hands and saw that there were a lot of “blanks” in the community around her. Gaps that needed to be filled in order for development to take place. One of the things that was wanting, was a school for the underprivileged children around her. Muday was only 18 years old at the time, but she was determined to do something about the situation in her community. She too looked for funding and was able to start up the Fresh and Green Academy thanks to the help of well wishers in Ethiopia and in various places in the world like America and Europe. At the Fresh and Green Academy the classes are from lower kindergarten to grade 6. Muday plans on expanding the school up to grade 8 as her children advance in grade. She also offers meals to the children at her school and she helps to rehabilitate the women in these children's lives who would otherwise turn to desperate measures so as to make ends meet. The women get training at Fresh and Green and learn to be independent and entrepreneurial as well. Some of them even work at the Fresh and Green Academy. On a sunny Sunday morning, my friends and I visited the Fresh and Green Academy. This particular Sunday was a special one – not just because the sun was out in July in Ethiopia – but because on that day the preschoolers at Fresh and Green were graduating. It was so cute seeing them all seated to one side in their robes. Each of them got a gift with their friends and family in attendance. There were various performances from older children at Fresh and Green and even from the teachers and guardians. The whole ceremony was conducted in Amharic and though my knowledge of the language doesn't go beyond basic greetings, I would like to imagine the conversations went something like this; “Our children have worked very hard and we are grateful to all of you here today...” “That's my daughter up there, she is going to become a doctor when she grows up...” “Mama, papa, grandmother, we all came to support our child...” “Oh my, you are such a good dancer! Where did you learn to move like that?” “We have gotten this far, but we still have some way to go. Godspeed...” 10
  12. 12. Dancers on stage The graduates 11
  13. 13. Happy parents look on Muday Mutiki 12
  14. 14. THE JOY CENTRE The third school we visited was the “Joy Centre.” A school for children with Autism located in Addis Ababa. The story of the school's inception is truly touching. It all started with a then 4 year old boy named Jojo. One day while his father was watching television, a program on autism was on and he realised that his son had most of the symptoms described on the show. When Jojo turned 8, his mother – Mrs. Zemi Yunus - took him to England where he was officially diagnosed with autism. Jojo's older brother Billal had always wanted to help other children in Ethiopia living with the same condition as his brother. So, with his humble donation that consisted of items such as video games and a television, the Joy Centre was able to open its doors. Billal was able to pave the way for the NIA foundation which started with the Joy Centre and has expanded to accommodate other community welfare organisations. The name “Joy Centre” is a derivative of “Jojo” and the name also works as a place that brings joy to children who would otherwise be considered lesser than their counterparts. The centre started with 4 children, then 9, then 12 and today, it has over 70 children enrolled. When we visited the Joy Centre we had the chance to sit with the children in various classes. I sat with one particularly cheerful boy – about 11 or 12 years old as he strung beads together to make a necklace and I also made the acquaintance of a young girl who communicated primarily in song and welcomed me with a kiss on either cheek. My friends and I also met a group of young volunteers who had chosen to dedicate their Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to helping around at the Joy Centre. Though we were not permitted to take photographs within the centre, the memories of that visit will stay with us for a long, long time. Gate to the Joy Centre 13
  15. 15. ePIC MOMENT “Powerful African stories captured in images” (While in Addis Ababa, I manged to come across something I do not think I will ever forget, perhaps you will agree with me, this was pretty cool.) AFRICA UNITED! On our way back to Mexico from La Scuolina we had so much to talk about. We were all excited from all the running around we had done with the kids and all the fuss they had made about us – it's nice to feel so appreciated. A group of donkeys (what's the collective word for that? Hmm...) all alone ran past us – they looked like they were in quite the hurry. The ran all the way down the hill, turned the corner and were gone. Needless to say, these seemingly busy donkeys became the topic of discussion and stemmed several jokes as we continued our walk down to the bus stop. Unfortunately, I hadn't had my camera out to film the donkeys as they ran past – a sight like that is something everyone should see at least once, I think – it was hilarious. So I quickly reached into my bag and took out my camera. I pressed the record button as we strolled along, determined not to miss any more interesting happenings that day. I was walking absentmindedly along including everything and nothing in particular in my film when I captured what would be my epic moment. A small shop stood by the side of the road. It had all the usual things a neighbourhood kiosk would have. The shop owner stood inside the shop and on spotting us walking by, he raised his fist up and yelled, “Africa United,” in our direction. The two interns who had been working at La Scuolina (and were walking with us) and had been coming up this way for the past month explained to us that that particular shop keeper had done that every morning and evening he had seen them walk by. We all laughed, raised our fists and yelled back, “Africa United!” This was much to the shop owner's amusement. I didn't think about it again until later on when I was watching the video. To have captured that shop keeper at exactly that moment seemed like such a blessing. With all the sincerity of his words – they came from himself and were not coaxed out of him. He had obviously realised that we were foreigners (this whole time our cheery-tourist-disposition had made us stick out like sore thumbs) and those two words, for me, AFRICA UNITED! were just the perfect welcome. Even though I had been in Addis Ababa for several weeks by then. I don't know what he was thinking of exactly that first time he yelled, “Africa United,” to my fellow interns. Or why he kept saluting them in this way without fail each time they walked by. I figure, thinking about magical moments like that too much ruins the aestheticism. Let us conclude that this particular fellow is just a bit too awesome and leave it at that. 14
  16. 16. Activ8 Joy “Playing for a purpose” (Though my friends and I did not get to organise a sporting event in the community around us, we sort of fulfilled this Africa In Me activity. This, we did when we went on that hike I had mentioned earlier with the kids at La Scuolina.) UP THE HILL So, we didn't get to the school as bright and early as we had promised, but we must have apologised to Mr. Kaleb and the rest of the staff like one thousand times (figuratively). In their usual polite manner, they insisted that it was alright and asked us to sit and watch the kids as they continued to make preparations for the journey. That morning all the school children were out in the playground. They sat quietly as a few of the older children stood before them and acted out a drama skit. It was in Amharic and I did not understand much of it - all I had to go on was what I saw. Afterwards, they arranged themselves into rows and began to sing nursery rhymes and played a couple of games. That day, the kids were even more energetic than on the previous day, if you can believe it. I think they were all very excited to be going on the hike. Soon enough, w e were off. Outside the school's gate, Mr. Kaleb showed me the mountain peak, sorry, “hill top” that we would be climbing up to. He said that it looked pretty far, but the walk up would be quite short using a pathway he knew. “Okay!” I said. I was ready for this. I was well rested and I had on proper shoes. This would be easy. Goodness, we walked. And walked. And walked. All the while, the kids tugged at our clothes and encouraged us to race them up (I remember thinking how old we had become). Occasionally, we passed a berry bush and you'd see lots of the little people crowd around and pluck some. One of the little girls I was walking with offered me some of the berries. They didn't taste much like anything. But they were good, I suppose. I myself used to savour these exact berries back in my lower primary school days. Bushes just like those had been all over the school compound. It was not long before a few of us were left behind as the more eager ones ran ahead. More power to them, I say. One of the staff members walking with us started to sing songs as we walked. In Amharic and in English. We all sang along and danced when they could. The singing really was a lot of fun. It made the rest of the hike shorter, I think. A little while later, we got to a clearing with a large- big, huge – open field. The kids didn't even need to be told, they just ran out there and started to play. Like we hadn't just been hiking up a steep hill for the past 40 minutes. After we had rested for a bit, we joined in. We taught them how to play, “three sticks” but only the older ones really got it, we had a dancing game, we raced and jumped and hid and found and laughed and ran some more. Soon, we were on our way again. We still had not got up to the hill top Mr. Kaleb had shown me. About 10 minutes of walking and we were there - the hill top I never thought we would see. From way up there, we had a stunning ariel view of the whole of, I kid you not, Addis Ababa. It was magnificent. Suddenly, the walk up here did not seem so long anymore. It was worth it. We couldn't stay up there too long, though, it started to rain. It was so funny – us making our way back down the hill again - using another route that no one seemed to be completely familiar with. We tried to be as fast as we could, but after a while, my friends and I just stopped and looked at each other and laughed. We all looked pretty helpless up in a hill forest in the rain. When we finally got back down the hill, the rain had stopped. We were surprised to find that most of the children we had been on the hike with had long gotten home, changed out of their school uniform and were now playing with their neighbourhood friends. I knew we had been slow going up the hill and coming down, but had we really been that slow? 15
  17. 17. Me and two of my hiking buddies – this is “the slow team”, by the way. :D We finally caught up with the others at the clearing 16
  18. 18. On the hill top 17
  19. 19. STORIES FROM OTHER INTERNS Stefani Johanna Antonia De Roover (Tilburg University, Netherlands) She is 21 years old and came in all the way from Europe, ladies and gentlemen! To her own admission, she is not a member of AIESEC and is only an exchange participant. She learned about the exchange opportunities from fliers put up in her university. She was a volunteer at the Joy Centre and says she chose this particular opportunity because she has a cousin who is autistic – it did not matter so much what country the opportunity to work at a centre for autistic students was in. Stefani worked at the Joy Centre for 5 weeks during her exchange experience. She says that she had a good time there, interacting with the children and the friendly staff members helped her adjust. She also learned a little Amharic to help her communicate with the children there. She also says that at first she was a little taken a back because the autism cases she saw at the Joy Centre were not as serious as the ones she had encountered back in her home country. The staff members at the Joy Centre have received special training on how to deal with autistic children, and because Stefani had not, she sometimes felt like she could not make much of a difference – but this reporter begs to differ. I saw Stefani play and chat with the children on my visit to the Joy Centre like they were old friends. She has definitely imprinted on the lives at the Joy Centre. Once she returns home, Stefani plans on trying to encourage a partnership between the Joy Centre and one of the autistic organisations in the Netherlands. She is also planning on officially joining AIESEC. Chen xi (Zhongnan University of Economics & Law, Wuhan – China) Chen xi (Short form, Cece) has been working at Promise Keepers, a school for underprivileged children in Addis Ababa, for three weeks now. She is teaching spoken English to grades 1 through 4 but occasionally takes over the grade 5 to 8 classes. The children she teaches, she says, are very attentive and eager to learn. Sometimes, they even try to mimic the basic Kung Fu demonstration she gave them when she first got there. Cece says her time in Ethiopia so far has been good. She commends AIESEC Ethiopia and would recommend Ethiopia as a destination for exchange. Rebecca Gichuki (Daystar University, Kenya) Rebecca is a twenty one year old from Kenya who has been working on the EduPower Underprivileged project in La Scuolina. She has been a member of AIESEC Daystar in Kenya for the last two years and this is the second exchange she has been on so far. Her experience in Ethiopia, in her words, has been full of ups and downs (and not just because of the Ethiopian Highlands). From how she speaks about her job, you can tell that she loves it. She smiles as she mentions the children at La Scuolina every time without fail. Her colleagues were friendly and the children, she says, gave her a very good reason to get up every morning. Besides being her duty, the work was rewarding in its own way. Before she got to the gates, the kids would run towards her excitedly, take her hand and walk her to school. At the end of the day, the children would follow her from the school giving her hugs and kisses as if saying “well done!” This is her second exchange so far and she didn't think she would learn as much as she has so far. Although she will be sad to say goodbye to such warm and loving people as the ones she has met in Ethiopia, she is looking forward to many more exchanges in the future. 18
  20. 20. MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE While in Addis Ababa, we moved around a lot. It was a bother – packing, unpacking and then packing again – but at least I can say I lived all over the place while I was here. Our first afternoon in Addis Ababa, we met with other AIESEC interns from Italy and Ireland. We all sat and had a meal together. All of us had been in the country for only a day at the most and we still didn't know what to expect, what we should have expected was a lot. While in Ethiopia, I got to visit many places. The museum in Addis Ababa – is home to “Lucy.” Lucy is the oldest human fossil to be discovered, yet. The amazing thing about Lucy is that, though her remains date back to 3.2 million ago, she appears to have been walking fully upright. Also in the Museum, we saw other human fossils that had been discovered in Ethiopia as well. Not as impressive as Lucy, but interesting still. We also saw a lot of earthen wear, jewelry and weapons that were used in ancient Ethiopia. Some of these things dated back to the BC era. In the main area of the museum, we got to see a few of Emperor Haille Selassie's possessions. His musket, his royal army robes, his crown and his gigantic throne. Also in the museum, we saw a lot of art work done by Ethiopian artists. Some of them were fairly recent, others were as old as 70 years. Outside the museum, we got to see one of the first cars to ever be brought into Ethiopia. Save for a little rust and the interior looking worn, it seemed to be in good condition. Unfortunately, I am not a car-guru in the least sense so I can't tell you what make and model the car is. Perhaps, you should come down to Addis Ababa and see for yourself? Our fourth week here, a few of us interns went on a trip to Haramaya under the AIESEC Ethiopia MC. The purpose? It was time for AIESEC Ethiopia's National Planning Conference. Haramaya is an old Ethiopian town located East of Addis Ababa. We were told that the journey would take about 9 hours including a rest stop. I like road trips, though, so I didn't mind and on the bus we were with all these other interns from all around the world who had come to Ethiopia under AIESEC for exchange as well. The way to Haramay is pretty basic. Just follow the road East, out of Addis and drive on for about 5 hours. You will get to the base of some hills. Proceed up into the hills and stay on that straight road for another 4 hours and you're there. We were travelling in an old rickety bus, though. And it kept breaking down so the trip ended up taking 16 hours altogether. Over the next few days, however, I really got to learn what AIESEC is all about. Making an impact in the world one life at a time. Encouraging youth leadership. Encouraging friendliness and appreciation across cultures. Being a Kenyan, Ethiopia has always seemed like that distant relative you have come to all the family gatherings, but never says much. I literally had not the faintest clue of what life was like for our neighbours up north. Now, I know a few things about them. The like to eat bread and they like to eat a special traditional fermented bread called injera – which is made from “Teff” - a grain native to Ethiopia. Ethiopians also like to eat with their hands and always invite the person sitting next to them to share their meal. They even go further in their “brotherly-ness” by feeding the companion they are eating with. This is known as, “Gursha.” Ethiopians like to dance and are very proud of their heritage. The women still wear their hair in traditional hairdo's and the men still wear traditional Ethiopian clothes. For a foreigner, though, purchasing these garments is quite expensive. Ethiopia also has the largest per capital density of cattle in Africa. Ethiopia is the home of the Black Jews, known as the Falashas, or Beta Israel. Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, making it one of the oldest Christian nations in the world. Islam also appeared early in Ethiopia, during the time of Mohammed, when his followers fled persecution in Arabia and sought refuge in Ethiopia. 19
  21. 21. Emperor Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, is worshipped by Rastafarians as a devine being. In fact, their name comes from Haile Selassie's birth name, Ras Tafari, which means "Prince Tafari". There are more than 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own unique script. Ethiopia claims to hold the Ark of the Covenant as well as a piece of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. Ethiopia remains one of the only nations in Africa never to be colonized. It was occupied briefly by the Italians from 1936 to 1941. The best thing I learnt about Ethiopia, though is that they love foreigners. Those who can speak English are always ready to translate signs and messages for foreigners and they are always curious to know, “Where are you coming from?” If you happen to say you come from Kenya, they will go, “Ah, Kenya! Our brothers.” 20
  22. 22. So, there it is. My Ethiopia story. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed experiencing it. SOURCES   