Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bed #5: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I met Chris at a Global Issues Service Summit in Mozambique back in 2011. He was teaching in Nigeria at the time and I was teaching in Uganda. It was at this conference, during a happy hour conversation with Chris and other service-learning folks, that my dissertation research project was first brainstormed. Nearly four years later, it’s fun to be able to swap ideas together again. Chris has been a huge supporter of my research from its inception. 

Chris is married to an awesome woman, Amanda. Amanda, who I met for the first time two weeks ago, is both funny and down to earth. She is incredible with their spunky 2-year-old daughter. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her and am so grateful for her willingness to take in another verbose extrovert.

As my journey continues, I am perpetually struck by how lucky I am to have such great friends around the world.

PS- I haven’t forgotten how to count (yes, I know my last post about hosts described “bed 2”). Bed #3 was a hotel for the triathlon in Watamu, bed #4 was a tent in the Masai Mara.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Initial Impressions

I arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday. While I visited Ethiopia for a week and a half on a whirlwind tourist trip a couple years back, this is the first time I am staying in Addis for any significant length of time. I think I’m really going to like it here!

First of all, I am really enjoying the fact that international school world is so small. I already know a handful of people from my past: two couples from my time in Korea and a service-learning friend from the Global Issues Service Summits. I have a former co-worker from ISU in the city and ran into a second former co-worker at the regional track meet the day I arrived. This morning I even found myself seated besides a student who I taught 4 years ago when she was a 7th grader in Uganda. The world is so small. 

I am also excited for a shift in lifestyle. Life in Addis seems to keep a slower pace. I laughed to myself as I rattled my way from the airport about 10mph in a taxi quite literally held together by duck tape (doors, steering wheel, clutch, mirrors… all duck taped to a rickety metal frame).  Cars actually yield at crosswalks (at least some of the time). The neighborhood I’m staying in is quite safe, and I can easily walk for a coffee (I am slightly obsessed with Ethiopian coffee) or supplies without hassle or fear. People are friendly. The only readily apparent downside to living here is the giant orthodox church with the world’s loudest speakers two blocks from my bed (who doesn’t love 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am, and 7am loudspeaker singing on Saturday nights?). But earplugs and naps can easily remedy that issue.

I also am really enjoying the warm and inviting community here. Folks let me join a pickup soccer game on Sunday. My hosts are being incredibly welcoming and have introduced me to dozens of people already. The school seems really open to my research.

All in all, very positive first impressions. It should be a good month here.  

Living in a Suitcase: Bed #2

You know those friends you have that are so awesome you just want to become them? My dear friends, the Lavenders, fit into that category. They rock at parenting, they thrive at teaching, they pour themselves into service, they live what they believe, and they perpetually open their lives to others… all with warm smiles and seemingly endless enthusiasm. I am so incredibly grateful for the hospitality they have shown as they welcomed me into their home for nearly two months.