Last Friday I had the honor of hosting the Yirgalem round of Peace Corps’ International Creative Writing Competition (ICWC to be PC, because everything in Peace Corps needs a good acronym). For the past semester I’ve branched out from my normal work at Adarash Elementary School to work with some of the Yirgalem High School students on creative writing. Creative writing–really just writing in general–is quite the foreign concept for most students in Ethiopia. Few students are expected to write formal essays, so asking them to write about abstract ideas poses many challenges.
Over the course of the semester I held writing workshops for interested students focusing on the basics of creative writing. I read many stories aloud: from Shel Silverstein to Dr. Seuss, and lead the students in practicing and creating their own stories from topics, pictures, and other students’ ideas. More than one time I was asked “Teacher, what is the purpose of this?” If I answered “It’s optional. To have fun and practice your English!” one more time I might have burst into a thousand tiny ferenji pieces. After a few lessons, though, certain students really latched on to the idea. Writing for fun? I don’t get graded? Someone will read what I have to say? What is this madness?
The Friday of the competition, along with my counter part, I made my rounds through the spacious high school campus to round up stragglers that might be interested in English and/or writing. Come that afternoon I had 75 students waiting for me to begin the competition. I was astounded.
After an hour of writing I proudly collected the 75 crisp essays and set upon reading them immediately. Some of them were a bit dull, as expected. A blind person sees darkness because they cannot see. But others were brilliant! A conversation between dorro wat and kitfo? Death being compared to a thief. Several stories about life as a dog in Ethiopia. Sure the English spelling and grammar are not great (English is often their third language), but the ideas some students presented are a big step in the right direction.
But enough of my rambling on. Without further ado here are some of the winners from the 2013 Yirgalem ICWC:
12th Grade (If death were a person what would he/she be like?) Winner – Lidetu Kebede: aka my future James Joyce
Why I am writing this article? sorry! You don’t know who I am, so how could you imagine what my though is, I also don’t know you either but I am writing… writing…
If death was aperson, in my opinion, she would be agirl; why I am saying that? Because in nature girls are more beautiful than us. (you uderstand what my sex is… haha…) what type of girl?, you may ask. The most beautiful girl in the world. Why are you annoyed? Don’t be; ok! I wil tell you why I said that. Monalisa, which was painted by Davinchi, is assummed to be the priettiest girl, but Death is more than what she look like. Believe me. (everyone is writing. The writing hall is silent. I don’t know what they are writing. our manager- let us say him for the time being is strolling checking what we are doing. am one of the writers, so I am writting…)
Death resembles Hamer Goldness ladies (By the way Hamer is a place which is located in south nation nationalities and peoples. They have spectacular culture. There dancing style is out standing! There dressing stye– woooooo! I swear I have never seen such an exciting dressing style in the world). Almost Death is aclone of these ladies. Many people think that white are beauty but blacks aren’t. We are beauty! As Martin said individual should be said ‘beauty’ or ‘ugly’ by their color skins. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” as it is said. Death, as I said it earlier, is beautiful laddy. She is slim, she have dimples on both cheeks, have long hair (I have never seen and certaily I will not see such along hair). her lips are as red as apple, her breasts are standing like asoildier who is waiting his commander order inorder to martch…. what can I tell you… she has every thing what deserves for agirl. she, like Hamer ladies, use only Natural beauty keeping materials….. she didn’t believe in arteficality like many people do. (Lacy is collecting what students have just written… but I have many things o write. Lacy is beautiful woman but not so beautiful as death… hahaha… she is abit fat… but every time she smiles. “No one is ugly up on smiling!” who said that? I am so sorry. I forgot…)
Many Human kinds inhabit this earth. for everly posetive action there will be another inverse or opposite action. There are people who are rich and poor, white and black, who rarly eats ones a day and who selects food type (balanced diet), wholeam in private modernize school and who learn outside class/ on bare land/, who wears spectacular clothes and those that wear thread bare clothes… (I am crying… I remember my friend who don’t has any thing to wear),…. there are people in developed countries and their world countries…. there are human beings who live in street and those who live in avilla…. Do you know Cdumb’s Law? There are two charges in nature posetive and negative. There are two fronts in human beings life. (English is not my mother tongue, so how could I explain the running ideas inside? How? so please tell me the way? Language is a means to communication… I will try even am not good at both grammer and vocabulary. But I will try….. try….. “Don’t lose your hope!” is my life principle….)
The beautiful girl death, the sweet young lady, the clone of Hamer girl…. make us all to be equal! I am 100% sure, there is nothing other than death who make people equal. “Equality of people… gender equality….” are word what I ‘m fed up w hearing. In the most democratic country like America, Britain,…. people are not equal. still in industralized countries equality is never and never. But the young lady death makes us equal. Carlos (the richest person (mexican) in the world) is equal with me. haha… I have no money in my pocket but he has more than $ 60,000,000,000! But he left all in this earth but goes “there” empty pocketed. Thanks to the young lady Death! Lacy is equal with Bill Gates through death! Congratulations Lacy! hahaha….
Nothing in this world is with out any negative effect. Our mobile has an invaluable use but it has side effect…. every thing it has negative effect it also has posetive one. Devil by him self has posetive effect although his negativity exceeds…. oohhh! I am trying to pull your leg. the two exception are God – who has only posetive effect and Devil, in contrast, has one negative effect. Death, the beautiful lady has negative effect… she may separate two lovers, mother from her kid, aleader from his/her people… etc but she tooks their soul to “Heaven” or “Hell” depending on what they did on earth.. this is what I belive. why death servive? Because its good impact exceeds the bad one. “The fit will survive and the unfit will be eliminated!” as it said. (In front of mine there along black board. the plasma is by it… Lacy said only one more minute left… but i didn’t finish the history of my young lady… world is like this. some thing starts before other ends…. I may start something at home…. I have an appointment with my young lady,…. Death… I don’t know at what time!
11th Grade (One thing I wish I could do that is not allowed is…) Runner-up – Aselefech Bekele My heart goes out to this girl.
One thing I wish I could do that is not allowed is… When I wish dance but htat is not allowed me why the Bible says that dance is sin When I am adancer I separet my God When I separeted My God all my vision is blinded when I separeted My God I seleued for Devil I seleued for devil that is the fire when the fire eats me I dead when I dead the sin I don’t stand for Jesus comes again when Jesus comes the end of the world at the end of the last I see something behind when the end of the world Jesus comes again When we sin is desteet so the dance is not allowed for me dance is sin.
9th Grade (What does the world look like through a dog’s eyes?) Winner – Psinat Mezgebu
The world Looks at me as a murder but I tink I am not. I relly Love my master. I tink he loves me two but I relize that the only person who loves me in this world is my master. I relize that when I was a baby dog my first master tride to kill me & I run away & now I live in my new masters hous who found me in the street. one day I was walking alon & I was so hungry. I had to eat some ting & I want to a reach person’s house, I look at him as a pity full baby dog. he took me to his home & geve me a delises food. I eat to much I slept all the night, at the morning. the reach person come to me & start to blam at me “why did you sleep all the night, you have to wak & watch the hous safe,” & I reliz that if I need to get some ting I have to give some ting., even if he is reach. he doesn’t have a good filling for Animals & that day my heart was broken I wished I would die at that time & I feel like I was alon in the world, I had noone to care for me the reach man kik me out of his hous even if he is reach he needed some ting from me. I sow the world as bad as the reach man, that day I was afraid at the next day I faud my new master he was so polite so Good to me, so I reliz that the world is like the to face of one coin. Good & bad.
7th Grade (If the food in your fridge could talk what would it say?) Winner – Fitsum Belete: My primary school humorist.
The first one is Doro Wat and the second one is ctfo.
Doro wat – who are you?
ctfo – i am ctfo. Who are you.
Doro wat – i am doro wat. i am many times prfear use in holy days..
ctfo – i am in many time used in gurage and wolita sodo first slit a cut andthey take Red meat from the see and cut the meat. thy prepare butter. in the lost meat and Butter are miced and put on the stake and they can to eat. how do you prepare?
Doro wat – first slite the chicken and pick the wing. they wash my bodies. they cut my leg and my face. the preper onions. they cut my bodies in many times. they put on the stove and add the egg. in the last they eat me. Doro is very sweet food. Goodbye. i see again.
in the last i see they but they have not mouth and again shut the door. they talk each other and I am very amaizing.