Saturday, January 14, 2006

News from Ethiopia

I don't want to bore you with the details of teaching a class on Academic Writing Skills. It's just been a really long week where I ended up teaching for 10 hours straight one day! Plus it has been hard in that I’m just not used to classroom teaching any more. Add to that the fact that only one of my two text books was sent (and it arrived late on Thursday), so I’ve been having to improvise a LOT. That’s hard with a technical class such as this one.This coming week, we'll have 8-hour days, so I'll be teaching in the afternoons for 4 hours every day.

I'll be exploring Addis Ababa with friends (APU colleagues) today. Mary Grams, Sue Clark and Yuriko Glessner form APU had to come and administer English tests. They also happen to bring me some treats.

It was SUCH a treat seeing friends! I came to Addis with them last night, an hour's drive from where my classes are. We were all so tired--our testing only ended at 8pm!--but after dinner we visited till way late. This morning, they're sleeping in a bit while I'm catching up on e-mail etc. We had hoped to go to Lalibella this weekend, but it didn't work out. I’ll just plan to go next weekend. There are two girls here who had just graduated from APU—Chelsea and Lara—and they said they’d want to go, too. They’re in Ethiopia for 8 months for short-term missions. They’re having a bit of an adjustment challenge since they’re not being asked to do what they were told they would be doing here. But that’s a whole other matter!

Where am I?
So, I've finally figured out the name of the town where I teach. It's Debre Zeit—pronounced “daubre zjet”--about an hour directly south of Addis. I'll be taking more photos this coming week so you can get a picture of where we are. For the time being, I'll try to draw word pictures.

Horses and Donkeys
In Ethiopia, there are far more horse buggies than there are in Kenya. (There you see more donkey cars.) Here, you'd see large trucks, old Russian-made taxis and horse buggies on the road all at the same time.

It's a beautifully simple picture to see one of the horse buggies driving towards you with an Ethiopian family on the back, the woman's head covered with a scarf.

Pictures donkeys walking on the side of the roads with hay piled high on their backs... (Mary is convinced that she wants to bring a donkey home as a pet.)

People everywhere
As in most places in Africa, you don't drive along the highways without there being a plethora of pedestrians. It seems like school started again yesterday, so add to the men and women walking to/from work (or market, or where?) to kids in their school uniforms.

Speaking of school, my students explained that in rural parts of Ethiopia, there are as many as 100 students per class! Can you imagine that?? Illiteracy is still VERY high in this country, too.

We have had access to "Western" food (or as close a resemblence of it as the local chef can make) at our hotel. But we've also had a chance to enjoy Ethiopian food. In typical Ethiopian restuarants, you do not used utencils to eat. Instead, you get bread called injera, which you use to pick up the rest of the food. Injera is a lot like crepes, but the dough is sour and coffee-colored. Not that there's coffee in it, though. ;) Ethiopians do love their coffee, and their coffee ceremonies are similar to Chinese tea ceremonies, with people sitting around a little table in a corner and being served little glasses of coffee. (Yip, glasses, not cups.)

Ethiopian dinner tables are woven from reeds and are about 4 feet off the ground. They're round (put your arms together in a circle--they're about that size) and there's a clay "plate" upon which all the food is served. The chairs are small, too. Yes, yes, I'll take photos so you get a better idea.

Mary just showed up. We're going to have breakfast now. I'll write tonight and upload photos.

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