Sunday, November 24, 2013

Teacher Training

Photo: The Learning
Photo: The fun

The Regional Education Bureau team and I organized a brilliant training for a group of 50 teachers from the SNNPR this past week. The training was based on a British Council initiative called the Learn English Audio Program and it is designed to give people, especially those in rural areas, access to English language speakers and lesson materials that help improve oral English language use.

The Lifeplayer, the blue box in the picture below, is designed to charge by electrical outlet, solar power, or hand crank so that it can be charged and used in any situation. A huge problem for Ethiopia, especially those in rural towns, is access to English language speakers and this interactive language device allows that access to be possible.

The three day training consisted of games, hands-on training of the equipment, practice lessons, hard work and loads of fun. I have been humbled and inspired by all of the teachers in the last week. The conditions that many of them work under are unbelievably challenging, but they all find ways to help their students learn - often without any resources, without any support and without any payment. The vast majority of teachers are completely focused on the future success of their students no matter what their own personal circumstance is like, or the circumstance in which they teach.
Photo: The work

By the end of the training, it was easy to see that these British Council Learning Boxes are a game changer for many schools. You could read it in the faces of the workshop participants. I am fortunate enough to get to go and deliver the boxes to the schools where all of the newly trained teachers work and can't wait to see them again - fantastic people doing fantastic work.

The trainers from the British Council, my colleagues at the REB, and all of the teachers that attended did exceptional work at this training program.
Photo: Some of the group

Photo: The rest of the group
 Below this post is the link to Episode 5 of ELIC Panorama. Tesfahun put together a new intro song and we would love to hear what you think of it.

ELIC Panorama episode 5

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Episode 4 - ELIC Radio

Wow, the last week went by extremely quickly - work has become very hectic and a bit frenzied all of a sudden. Here's Episode 4 of the ELIC Panorama radio program. I learned that the radio show has about 7 million listeners which is equivalent to about 20% of the population of Canada. Not so bad really. The creator of the program and my friend and co-host Tesfahun Weldemedhin has really done a good job with it. Again though, your input will be valuable as the program moves forward so please send feedback if you have some ideas or suggestions.

ELIC Radio email click here 


ELIC Panorama episode 4

Monday, November 11, 2013

ELIC Panorama Episode 3

Episode 3 of ELIC Panorama aired on Sunday (Link Below). There is some great music in this one and a couple of English language conversation dialogues as well. Unfortunately, Habtamu wasn't able to make it to the recording because of a work commitment, but Tesfahun and I managed to get through it okay. Please have a listen and don't forget that the program would love your feedback, ideas, and suggestions as it is still a very young project.

Link to ELIC Panorama radio Episode 3:   ELIC Panorama Episode 3



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Haile Resort

After 2 months in Hawassa, I felt that it was about time that I go down and look at the Haile Resort. I always tell people here that I am more happy in a tent in the bush than on a lawn chair by the pool, but as I sit here at the Haile writing this blog, I have to admit that it's pretty fantastic. The resort was opened by Haile Gebrselassie and is a really beautiful place as you can see from the photos below. The prices here are about double that of the local restaurants, but you pay more for the view.

Photo: Haile Resort, Hawassa, Ethiopia

Photo: Haile Front Entrance 

Photo: Haile Resort inside lounge

There are many nice hotels here in Hawassa, but I think the view from Haile is the best of all of them. They have done a great job with the gardens and landscaping as well and the birds have taken notice. A chorus of songbirds is always present when you are seated outside. Room rates are $73 for 2 people weekdays and $82 dollars on weekends or $82 and $91 for a lakeview (well worth the extra few dollars for the lakeview for sure). 

Photo: View of the lake from Haile

Photo: the pools overlooking the lake at the resort.

Photo: Me writing this blog at Haile

Sunday, November 3, 2013

All English Radio

The Hawassa College of Teacher Education's English Language Improvement Centre (ELIC) started an English Language Radio program titled ELIC Panorama that airs on Sunday Mornings on Fana FM 103.4 here in Ethiopia. My friends Tesfahun and Habtamu are the masterminds behind the programming for the show and this week, for Episode 2, they asked if I would be their special guest. We had a great time making the program up in Shashamane where the recording studio is located. Shashamane is known around the world as the birthplace of Rastafarianism. The radio episode is available on Youtube and it is about 26 minutes in length (Link Below).
If you have the time, we would love to get your feedback on the episode. The program is still young so your input and ideas would help the program improve. Send feedback to
You can also check out the facebook page for the Hawassa ELIC at
                                          Photo: Tesfahun, Habtamu and I preparing to record the episode in Shashamane.


The Fish Market

Hawassa is famous for its fish ("asa" in Amharic). There is a fantastic fish market here where you can go and select the fish you want and either eat it there, or take it home with you. The main fish is tilapia, but catfish are also caught and consumed. The fishermen leave shore in the late afternoon and return early the next morning with their catch. Pelicans and Marabou Storks wait patiently to gobble up any leftover fish parts that the fishermen throw back into the lake. Hawassa is a growing city and the increasing population means increased pressure on the fish stocks. I asked around, but it doesn't sound like there is a fish hatchery program in place so if any aquaculturists read this blog and are looking for a project, there is one here for you.

Photo: A pelican flexing his muscle hoping to get some scraps.                                                                                                                                                             

                                          Photo: Marabou storks and pelicans watching the fishermen very closely. 

Photo: The fish sales floor.