Monday, September 22, 2014

Professional Development Day

While the teachers back in British Columbia were walking the picket lines, the teachers in Ethiopia were ramping up for another year of school. The first day of school is the closest weekday to the new year. I was asked to teach a professional development workshop to the secondary teachers at Union Academy. The topic for my workshop was "Creating Student Relevant Lesson Plans" and I think the teachers were happy with the class. I walked them through a Canadian public school lesson and then had them create their own in their subject groups and present it to the class. I really enjoy working with the teachers here because most of them really want to improve their teaching practice.

Photo: My friend and the principal of Union Academy, Eyob 

Photo: My group of teachers working on their lesson plans.

Teaching in Ethiopia has its challenges for sure. During the workshop a huge storm came through as you can see from the picture below. The rain can be extremely heavy when it rains and the clouds make everything very dark. 

Photo: The arrival of the storm.

In the photo below, you can see how accustomed to this weather the teachers are because they continued to work all the way through the storm. You can also see the water coming through the door and slowly flooding the classroom.

Photo: The actual level of darkness in the classroom. 

Once the storm passed, the teachers presented their lesson ideas and the class provided feedback on their lessons and offered suggestions for improvement and variation. 

I thought I would include a few photos of what the streets look like here in Hawassa after a good rain.

The photos below are an example of what my office on the 3rd floor of the Regional Education Bureau building looks like after a heavy rain.

New Year in Ethiopia

September 11, 2014 marked the start of a new year in Ethiopia. It is now officially 2007 here. It is a joyous time celebrated with families getting together for a feast - usually Doro Wat (a type of chicken stew). I went up to my great friend Tihut's mom's house in Shashamane and we had a terrific lunch. Abraham was invited along as well. At midnight, there were even some fireworks to welcome in the new year.
Photo: Abraham, Tihut and the feast.

Photo: Abraham and I.

Photo: Tihut, Mamma, and I.

After that, Tihut and I went over to our friend Tibsit's house for another feast. 

It was a great day for sure. 

Friday, September 5, 2014


I have mentioned in earlier posts that I have become very good friends with my guard, Abraham Korma. Last weekend, Abraham and I traveled to his home village, Hirko, in the Shashogo Woreda (zone) and it was one of the most memorable and amazing experiences I have had in Ethiopia thus far. To get there, you take a bus from either Alaba or Hosaena to a small town named Damboya which is on the dirt road that connects Alaba with Hosaena. Then you take another dirt road that leaves from Damboya and enters the Kembata Woreda. You must either walk for 4-5 hours, ride a horse for 2-3 hours or ride on the back of a motorcycle for 40 -50 minutes to get to the turn off that leads to Hirko. The last part of the journey must be completed on foot. At certain times of the year you can make the trek by horse, but during the rainy season the only viable option is walking and that takes between 45 minutes and an hour depending on weather conditions. Abraham calls the path from the road to his village "Shashogo asphalt," or the "Shashogo highway."

Photo: Abraham and I on the Shashogo highway.

Photo: Heading down into the Shashogo valley.

Photo: I was taken aback by the beauty of the landscape.

Photo: This is the crux of the journey and on of the main reasons
why horses aren't an option during the rainy season.
Shashogo is a low lying area. I would guess that it is at about 1500 meters elevation, but it could be a bit lower than that. As it turns out, I am the only ferenji (foreigner) that has visited the village. I didn't know that going in, but it's nice to be first sometimes. And, after 45 minutes of walking, we arrived in Hirko.

We immediately started visiting his family and friends. 

And eventually ended up at Abraham's Mamma's Beit (house). She is a fantastic and strong woman. 

We were given accommodations in the church guest room and Abraham whipped up a delicious meal on the porch.

On Sunday, we went to Church. There is a quick minute video of the choir singing - located at the bottom of this post. I addressed the congregation with Abraham as my translator. I think that 100% of the people in Abraham's village are Protestant and almost all of them were at church. 

Photo: The church choir.
I met some of the important community elders.

I made many new friends.
Photo: A small portion of my posse in Shashogo
 I took some community photos that I will get developed and send back with Abraham the next time he goes.

 The best part was meeting Abraham's mamma and family. They are truly amazing people - generous, hardworking and kind beyond belief.

 And then, it was time to go. About 20 minutes into our walk, the rain began to fall in torrents. The great thing about the rural areas is that when it rains, you can simply walk into the nearest house and wait for the rain to stop. They even bring the animals inside to keep you warm.

The journey home proved to be quite epic actually. The rain filled the rivers in minutes and we had to ford the rivers. The mud was as slick as ice. It was actually a bit like ice skating at times.

Finally, about 8 hours from the time we walked away from Shashogo, we arrived home in Hawassa. A truly great weekend complete.

Hirko Choir, Shashogo Woreda, Ethiopia,

A rough (and I mean very rough) meaning of the Amharic song lyrics is "I am not yet finished here, I have more to do." Something along those lines anyway.

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