Lessons from Ethiopia: Education is Key

Stachel sharing Concern notebooks with 16 year-old student, Makesh Endris, in Guguftu, Ethiopia.

Stachel sharing Concern notebooks with 16 year-old student, Makesh Endris, in Guguftu, Ethiopia.

A trip to Ethiopia was the last thing I thought I was going to do this past summer, but it was a trip that changed my world forever. I had the amazing opportunity to join two Concern staff on a field visit to Ethiopia in July. My assistant principal, Sister Christine, also joined.  There, we met with a Concern worker from Ireland, four Irish students and their two teachers.

Together, we visited various programs in the northern province of Wollo. Some of these programs were: a natural resource management program, a water program, and a women’s empowerment program. Visiting all of the various programs was exciting and very inspirational. They definitely made every day in Ethiopia enjoyable.

I think my favorite day in Ethiopia was the day we visited the Guguftu students. Guguftu is a village within the province of Wollo and is very remote. We drove up to the school on a dirt road and were welcomed by a group of children smiling and singing a song in the local language, Amharic. They then went on to perform skits and recite self-authored poems. This was very touching to me because these kids were on their summer vacation and they took time out of it to prepare this welcome for us.

We then went into a nearby school house where we had a culture share. During the culture share, the Irish students sang the Irish national anthem in Gaelic, recited an epic poem in Gaelic, Irish step-danced and played the tin whistle. I then presented a book that was about New York City. They seemed to enjoy that and it led into a deep discussion. The discussion was inspiring and it made me realize that the students there had the same dreams and aspirations as any normal child. It was so moving to see how dedicated these kids were to lead a better life.

Leaving Ethiopia was a hard thing to do. I met so many amazing people and made some new friends along the way.  Despite the culture and language difference, I made a connection with the people there. They showed me that the key to solving global poverty is not aid or monetary assistance, but it is education. With education, a society becomes more independent and will thrive above poverty.

My aim now is to use this experience to educate my peers and to use it as motivation in my studies in Political Science and International Relation in college. I hope to use my degree to help evoke change and push toward global development.

Stachel Roberts is a Global Concerns club leader at St Vincent Ferrer High School in NYC. She visited Ethiopia in July 2013 through GCC’s Student Leadership Core.