First thing out of the chute yesterday I was late for class. Tuesday night I had a discussion with one of the senior instructors agreed that we would meet at 9am and start the first class at 3. At 9am we were leaving the cafeteria for our ride to the Plant Science Department when one of the senior instructors came and ask if I was ready. “The students are waiting”. Right away I knew we had a misunderstanding of time. In Ethiopia time starts for the day at 7am so 3 was actually 9am. Confusing right? And by the way today is April 30th.
So…. I had 36 junior and senior instructors waiting for me to get set up and start. I’m new to the teaching gig but if after an hour I have 36 non English speaking students staring at me blankly I pretty much know it’s not going great. Welcome to my world for the next two weeks. In the afternoon we finally had some discussion so it was a little better. Fortunately I had brought two hand lenses (essential equipment for anyone working with plant health) for looking at insects under magnification and that was a hit since no one had seen that. Today wasn’t any better. We had scheduled to go to the student research field this morning to search for insects. Last night we had more rain so it was muddy. We arrived at the VIP dining room for breakfast…..scrambled eggs served with the standard sour sponge or bread for foreigners and found out that since the students hadn’t seen in writing that we were going to be in the field today they wore their good sneakers so we had to scratch that. They asked me to lecture this morning but I chose to work on the afternoon presentation. After all the work this morning the afternoon bombed too. For my Strawbridge friends the outbursts are looking better all the time after being in a 90degree classroom looking at blank faces for an hour. I’m sure glad tomorrow is Saturday and I only have to teach one session (hopefully in the field) and then have the afternoon and Sunday free. It’s turning out to be a little different than I thought but I’m making the best of it.
April 6, 2016 Day 4 in Ethiopia Day 2 in Alage
It has been about 36 hours since the CRS staff said goodbye and drove off back to Addis Ababa. So, here I am…..20 km from a paved road with people not only do I not know but I can’t understand, the only person who looks like me in I have no idea how many km, in a country I have never visited, on a continent I have never visited and I am strangely ok. I had prepared myself for the feelings I used to have when my parents dropped me off at camp or even at grandparents for an extended period. Yup I admit those times usually involved tears.
In addition to all of the above firsts, we are now at 24 hours with no electricity, no running water, no cell service and no internet. Not only can we not communicate with home but we can’t even communicate with staff in Addis. ISOLATED! It’s amazing what that can do for a person. I have no idea who won the Wisconsin primary, who is leading in the polls nor frankly do I care at this point. Today I sat and talked to one of the young junior instructors for almost two hours about agriculture….farming…..loafing around the farmer’s table. It was awesome. His English was very broken and I only know “thank you” in Amharic sometimes but we did it. I am really becoming aware of how fast my speaking is. I need to be really aware of that tomorrow when I have to give my first two hour lecture to 36 junior and senior instructors on Integrated Pest Management (anyone who wants go ahead and get in line now and I’ll be happy repeat it when I get home – it’s thrilling).
Today we after our “mandatory rest” after lunch which translates “can you just leave us alone for an hour” I went to the house at the entrance to turn in my key in at the security house so Mrs. Tarafu can get in to clean. The folks who live there were making coffee over a small wood fire. They offered me a cup which of course I accepted….for two reasons. It was graciously offered and in just two days I have become an Ethiopian coffee junkie. It’s about a triple shot in an espresso cup with three heaping scoops of raw sugar a small spoon. Let me tell you this stuff is amazing. My CRS associate has threatened to ban me from the coffee.
Our typical day will be breakfast at 1 1/2 (which is 7:30) and class at 2 1/2 (8:30). Our driver picks us up and drops us at the VIP room at the restaurant for eggs and coffee and then picks us up at 8 to go to the Plant Science Department.
April 3, 2016 DAY 1 IN ETHIOPIA
I arrived early this morning at Addis Ababa Bole Airport following an overnight flight from London. I had no idea what to expect – my only frame of reference being Haiti. Comparisons like this can be tricky because no two places are the same possibly only similar.
Our documents had said to expect a representative of the hotel to meet us with a sign with CRS and our names. Each hotel had a little “booth” with their name and a counter. For whatever reason our person stayed in his booth with the sign behind the counter. After “talking” with several people we went to the Churchill Hotel booth and there was our sign.
The hotel is a small, dated place but had spacious rooms, friendly staff and a reasonably priced restaurant. The order of the day was a shower and sleep and nothing else.
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