Saturday, December 6, 2014

Somewhere in Ethiopia: Week Without Walls

Somewhere in Ethiopia might seem like an unusual title. In a sense we loaded students onto a bus and headed south of Addis Ababa to where both bananas and false bananas grow.

To paraphrase what my school director once told me: people don't choose to work in Africa for the money and glory, we come here to help. Our school prides  itself in being a community; as in we all work hard to better our collective global community.

Our trip way down south to a location that is barely a dot on the map to help out a community school that teaches both adults and children wasn't all peaches and cream. We woke up before sunrise and worked nonstop until nightfall. Our students faced challenges such as language barriers, sleeping on the floor with 25 of your closest friends, and of course teaching student designed and lead workshops to groups of children.

As a veteran teacher, I was challenged by my expectations and perceptions. I had the opportunity to experience and witness learning on a different level. Imagine teaching:
• Little to no resources
• Not being able to drink water in front of children because they don't have water and eat infrequent meals.
• Students who wear the same clothes everyday because that is all they have.
And that is just the starting point. On the return trip back to Addis, we discussed our new perspective of what it means to be privileged.

On the way down to Common River Community.
One tukul for the boys and one for the girls...the teachers even got their own.
At the end of dinner, the hyenas started showing up on the compound.
Our students designed and prepared breakfast and dinner.  
Stirring the Witches' Brew. 
Walking students to class. 
One of the classrooms.  
Teaching arts and crafts to first graders. 
Using glue.
The compound was lush with many varieties of flowers. 
The school cooked us lunch each afternoon. 
One of the cooks.
The stove.
Cutting carrots
This bird has its' eye on a goat.
On Facebook I called this shot a "second grade mosh pit" it was really a game our students taught the children.
Another game. 
The school's crow.
I didn't really teach, I mainly consulted and offered feedback to my students who taught lessons.
There are women adult classes in the afternoon. While one group learned how to make menstrual pads (sponsored by our student's e-pad group) another group played volley ball. Our school brought new uniforms and balls. Some of the village ladies were quite competitive. Ages ranged from late teens to elderly. 
A couple of the local kids thought some of our students with long straight hair needed a new do.  
There was cooking then there was washing the dishes for 70 people.  
The hat project might seem a bit simple and elementary, but it was a hit. 
Offering positive reinforcement. 
Community building
I escaped the compound one morning only to find a Japan fence.
Packing out.  
The students of Common River Community gather for our farewell speeches. 
Our students.
We spent our last evening together at cabins on the shore of Lake Langano. The site reminded me of northern New Mexico. 
While the kids showered and hit the beach to wind down before an evening of writing reflections, I took a nice little walk. 
A colleague relaxing and reading on the beach. 
The smiles say it all.