Thursday, December 11, 2014

Regional Education Bureau English Language Training

After 16 months of working in Ethiopia and whilst in the final 3 weeks of my time here, the budget came through for an English language training that I planned and wrote the proposal for. The training was for the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples/ Regional Education Bureau staff and it was an absolutely amazing experience for me and from what I heard, for the bureau staff as well. I truly wish that this particular training could have happened within the first few months of my arrival in Hawassa, but there simply wasn't budget for it at that time. I was afforded the opportunity to really get to know my colleagues from other departments in the bureau and I am still in shock over how awesome they are. Truly great people and we had a really fun time. My great friend Tesfahun and I were the instructors while Haileyesus took charge of the behind the scenes work.

Photo: Group 1 Trainees 

Photo: Group 2 Trainees 
The concept behind the training was active learning so we had the participants moving around a lot and learning English through fun and games. It is the same teaching method that I have been promoting in the trainings that I have done here.

Photo: Adjectives lesson

Photo: Giving Directions blind walk

Photo: Listening comprehension shark game.

Photo: Charades competition

The trainees were all great sports and the strong English speakers teamed up with the weaker ones to help them along. Such a good time for everyone. I wish that there was budget for me to have done this training when I first arrived because I really got to know my fellow staff members through the training and it would have been nice to have formed those relationships at the beginning of my time here rather than the end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Southern Nations Cultural Day

I was invited by my great friend Tihut to visit his school on Southern Nations Cultural Day to watch an amazing performance and it did not disappoint.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gender Pedagogy/Positive Thinking/ Self-esteem Training

I haven't blogged in a while because I have been busy with work. I will try to get things up to date soon. October and November were really busy, but extremely fun. I organized a training for 150 people titled "Gender Pedagogy, Positive Thinking and Self-esteem Building" at Tabor Secondary and Preparatory School here in Hawassa. We trained 30 teachers to be trainers for the program and then in turn trained 120 Tabor school students from grades 9 to 12. The program was a huge success and I sincerely hope that similar initiatives can continue in years to come. Amazing trainers, amazing teachers, and as is always the case, amazing students.
Photo: Aster Hankamo - Gender Specialist at the Regional Education Bureau
teaching the teacher trainers workshop.She is incredibly intelligent
 and does a great job in South Region.

Photo: the newly trained teachers at the end of the teacher training. 

Photo: The student training was spectacular. They acted out dramas, learned a lot
of new information about positive thinking and gender equality and overall they had a
great time during the training. There feedback about the program was very positive.  

Photo: The first annual "Gender Equality/Positive Thinking/ Self-Esteem Building Workshop"  group. Hopefully this
program will be continued and improved every year.  

Photo: The grade 12 Gender Equality group.


After the training was finished with, we planned a bunch of events to help continue the thinking process on gender issues in Ethiopia. The football game was my favorite. It was the first annual Gender Equality Football Tournament and hopefully it will continue next year. I had 4 banners and 160 t-shirts made up for the training and all of the associated events. It was a great time.

Photo: Banner I had printed

Photo: Another Banner

Photo: The Football for Equality Banner.

Photo: Pre-game meet-up

Photo: Game on
Photo: The First Annual Gender Equality Football Tournament Champions.
The slogan on the back of the shirts reads "Men and Women in Equality; Endowed with the Same Dignity." 

The final event of the project was a QandA contest for grade 9 to 12 students where they discussed gender issues in Ethiopia. There is a tonne of work to do in gender equality here and although some of the statistics have improved, the stats are still shocking. My good friend Michael Silver was there for the event as well.

Photo: The QandA just before starting.

Photo: Gender Equality poetry reading at the beginning of the event

Photo: A short speech from me.

Photo: The competition question readers.

Photo: Competition underway.

Photo: Awards for all of the participants because everyone's a winner!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Traditional Stories Project

Tesfahun and I have started a book project in the South Region. The plan is to make one book per year focusing on a different ethnic group each time and then a few years down the road, we will take the best stories from each group and put them into a larger book. We collect the stories in the mother tongue and then translate them into English. The books will be used as a teaching resource and will contain comprehension exercises for students. They will also have an audio CD for listening comprehension, and we are going to film the story collection process for a documentary film that will accompany the "Best Stories" book.

Last week, over the Meskel holiday, Tesfahun and I traveled to Wolaita Sodo to meet with the Tourism Bureau and collect a few initial stories. Wolaita is a beautiful region and the people were incredible kind and generous with their time.

The bus rest stops are a bit different here in Ethiopia, not the flushing toilets, by donation coffee shop style that exist across North America.

Photo: Rest Area

Photo: Wolaita accommodation.

Photo: Story collection process

Photo: Traditional house
Photo: Wolaita cultural clothing
Photo: Ato Elias, Deputy Bureau Head at the Wolaita Tourism Bureau

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


As mentioned in the above post, my good friend Tesfahun and I are working on a book project in the Wolaita zone and went there on the weekend to collect traditional stories from the Wolaita people. It just so happened that we were in the area during the Meskel celebration. We decided to head down to Arba Minch, where Tesfahun's sister (Tarik), brother-in-law (Alem) and their son (Dougie) live, for a visit and to take part in the festivities. It did not disappoint. There is a short video clip of the Meskel celebration below this blog post.

The Meskel celebration marks the  finding of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. The cross was found by Queen Helena in the fourth century. She had a revelation in a dream that told her to make a large bonfire and cover it in frankincense and the smoke from the fire would lead her to where the cross was buried. As the fire was lit, the smoke from the fire rose high into the air and then returned to the ground indicating where the cross could be located.

Photo: Tarifa, Dougie, Alem, and Tesfahun.

Photo: Meskel prayers

Photo: The lighting of the bonfire.