What You Do Matters

I struggled these past couple of weeks on how to start my blog post and one night, I decided to make fun of my situation when it comes to riding the bus. Laughter is the best medicine after all and there is plenty of humor inside me. I deal with uncomfortable social situations by humor so here’s to hoping you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. I’ll set up the scenery.

It’s a beautiful sunny day in Chiri. It’s about 70 degrees Fahrenheit but no breeze coming my way any time soon. I just walked 30 minutes to get to the bus station with no water bottle. I’m sweating, panting like a dog and overall just out of breath. I see the bus station and there are no buses, but there are already people waiting for one. We wait patiently for about an hour. The bus is finally arriving. The bus station dude puts us in line. When the bus finally arrives at the bus station, all hell breaks loose.

Every Ethiopian pushing each other to get into the bus first:

This is what I feel when I get pushed out of line by an Ethiopian:

When I’m trying to get on and people keep pushing me:

I back off when I get told I will die if I try to go back in.

I still get a seat as someone saved the “ferenji” her seat and I get the stank eye.

IST, or what is now being known as “RECONNECT” had good and bad moments. I was able to eat delicious food from different places like Chinese, Mexican and American. I was also able to see friends that I hadn’t seen in 3 months. I was excited to spend more time getting to know the people I had come to known and for the select few; I wanted to form deeper connections. For those who know me, I’m all about the one-on-one hang outs because I don’t do well in group settings. I ended up having a lot of friend dates with Kelsey, someone who is just phenomenal and overall was my support system during IST. IST was a week of trainings on forming clubs, giving different ideas to our fellow peers and finally, presenting our English Skills Analysis. As the week progressed, I started going downhill and it was starting to take a toll on me. As I sat during presentations and I listened to all my co-workers talk about all the amazing things they’ve done at their schools for the last 3 months, I felt… honestly? Like shit. I had all these ideas but I had no idea how to get them started or gain support from my teachers and make sure those teachers were included in my plans. It got really hard, impossible even to not compare where I was to everyone else. With some long and good conversations with Kelsey and my sister Laura, pictures and balloons with Leroy, laughter with my roommate Ellen, food with Ashley, Nyaka and Chelsey, and drinks on the last night, I made it through. We lost 3 volunteers that week (now at 59), but I wasn’t going anywhere. By the end of IST, I was ready to visit Butajira to see my family and head home to Chiri.

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What should have taken 2 hours to get to Butajira, took 4 hours. I arrived in Butajira at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 20th and I got a lot of welcome hugs. With the way I was feeling at IST, it was good to be somewhere where I felt loved and safe. I talked to my host mom on how site was going, I played games with my little sister such as hide-and-seek with her bracelet in a pile of beans, I watched t.v. with my other sister, and I helped the eldest with her homework. I also ate my favorite food while I was there: doro wot. I wished I could have spent more than one night with them and while I had taken a personal day for Monday, traveling to Chiri takes two days so I couldn’t. I left Butajira and headed to Jimma. What should have taken 5 hours took 7 hours. God, I love the transportation in Ethiopia! I took a hot shower and relaxed for most of the evening. It was stupendous. I was headed to Chiri on Monday stress-free and at ease.

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I had two packets awaiting me in Bonga: one from my sorority, one from my mom. It was a struggle trying to keep everything together on the bus that day as I had two packages, my book bag and my bag of canned groceries. That day also seemed to be the day that God chose to help me find the humor in the most uncomfortable situations. Ethiopians were hoarded in like animals inside a bus and it was going to stay that way for an hour. Ethiopians always find a way to surprise me. I didn’t know whose crotch I was looking at: whether it was female or male, but all I know is it was freaking hot. If it was possible, I’m sure people would ride on top of the bus all the way to Chiri. When I arrived in Chiri at 5 p.m. on Monday after the bus dropped me off a couple of houses down, I was welcomed by Solomon with a hug who then helped me with my bags. When I opened my two packages and I squealed with joy, it was the kids who came running. Ahhh, it was good to be home at last. Finally, the cherry on top was the next day on Tuesday when I received my furniture. My house is officially finished (minor a flag or a map of Ethiopia which I want to hang over the couch)!

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The only thing I hate about traveling is all the clothes that need washing. Before I had left for Addis, I did not wash the pieces of clothing so now I had about 16 articles of clothing to wash. I spent about an hour washing clothes on Christmas Eve and I still wasn’t finished so that would mean more laundry on Christmas Day. To speak even more in seeing the humor in things, that Christmas Eve I was schooled by a 13-year-old on how to properly wash socks. Apparently, I don’t do a very good job on it. This later went on to my new family looking through my scrapbook and a small picture entourage. I spent my Christmas Eve cleaning and washing and while it wasn’t what I expected, it was perfect for me. I am now feeling happy again and like I can accomplish anything. I had a revelation on Christmas Eve and that was this: my students are my legacy. If they fail, then I have failed them as a teacher but if they succeed, then we are that much closer to getting them to college. In the end, how well my students do in my class, their other classes, in clubs and how my community accepts me will make and define my service. My time here will have mattered because of them.

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