Education and Collaboration


As my brother went away to Kenya, for a bit of ultimate frisbee playing and some well deserved beachside relaxing, I stayed back in Addis and spent the last week assimilating the best way I know how. Every day I walked a bigger circle around our humble little neighborhood, acquainted myself with the neighbors, explored the shops with all their curiously practical products and commuted by public transportation (continuously surprising myself to my success of arriving to the desired neighborhood, despite not always understanding what was being shouted out the vehicles sliding doors).

With only 10 days of ethiopian immersion behind me I’m feeling every day more prepared for all of which is yet to come.

My time this past week in Addis was also spent familiarizing myself with public education here in the city. I had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia Reads’ sponsored kindergarten -3 school located in a economically disadvantaged area of town where they focus on reaching out to children who otherwise would be filling the immediate economic needs of their family by working on the streets, rather than investing the time into their education. Though unidentifiable from the outside the kids filling the 4 room school, (3 classrooms and library), were filled with an excitement for learning that followed me back home.

So much so, when asked the following day to speak on the importance of working together to a colleagues class at a local college I put a speech together in the same way the Mercato school kids presented to me their favorite “teret, terets”, spoken word stories.

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For just under an hour I elaborated on the fact there are really only a few things that we actually do alone. If they brushed their teeth and made their bed in the morning I congratulated them on their independence, and then rolled into the manufacturing of a many’s favorite drink. From the preparation to cultivation of the barley used to make beer, the work is best done with team collaboration. Hand, animal or tractor the work is best achieved when divided and distributed amongst the people. Cooperation creates efficiency and over time saves literally a lot of back pain. The classes’ attention was maintained as I flowed into a example of the democracy demonstrated by honey bees in their decision making. When choosing a new home, the marvelous insects debate through their differences through a series of dances, and the community of 60,000 or so arrive at a common goal. Concluding that the shared decision of a group is always more powerful than the decision of even the wisest individual, the class finished by asking a multitude of bee related questions, all of which I did my best to explain.

So with the school visits behind me, and a head full of new Amharic phrases I am officially ready to get down to business. I’ve tasted more than a handful of tasty honeys since arriving but without knowing which flowers the honey making nectar comes from I am left with a wandering curiosity.

So this coming Monday we are hitting the road and heading south. My brother, ER staff members and I will be spending 10 days in the communities of the last school builds where we will be celebrating the completion of the construction as well as meeting with local beekeepers, agriculturalists, and health care workers as we asses the implementation of our pilot project this coming September.