Demystification and Hippos

So, I’ve been in Ethiopia for a bit over a week, and already I have enough experiences to fill lines and lines of blog space.  Let me see if I can fit some of the basics here.

Shots & Drugs

So far I’ve had 5 of my God knows how many shots I’ll get in the next 27 months.  2 Rabies, 1 Hep A, 1 Typhoid, and 1 Meningitis.  In the future I will receive another Rabies, Hep A, and Flu shot– among others.  I’m also taking daily medicine to prevent Malaria.  Peace Corps has given each of us a medical kit complete with just about every possible drug needed to survive (nearly) disease free in Ethiopia.

Demystification

This past Saturday our group of 71 split up into smaller groups to travel to different parts of Ethiopia to take part in a demystification process.  The idea of demystification is to shed light on what Education Volunteers actually do and how they live in Ethiopia.  My group of 5 flew up to Bahir Dar then took a bus 2 hours to the mid-sized town of Injibara.  In Bahir Dar we met several other PCVs who live outside of the larger city, and we did lunch on Lake Tana and had delicious, fresh juice at a small cafe– I chose a mixture of guava, pineapple, and banana.

In Injibara we stayed with Megan, an education volunteer who works at the local teacher’s college and primary school.  Education PCVs work in the area of improving quality by assisting teachers and students in learning English.  Most of our group will be placed in Elementary schools in order to assist those teachers who help to prepare students for secondary classes taught completely in English.  Megan’s house was 3 beautifully painted rooms and her own personal shent bet– aka small building with a deep hole in the ground that one uses as a bathroom.  On Sunday we went with Megan to a teacher training she put on at the local teacher’s college.  It was an amazing opportunity to interact with local college professors as they worked to improve their teaching strategies and English skills.  Monday was spent visiting the local primary and secondary schools.  The elementary school kids sang the ABC’s which was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.  Watching Megan interact with her community was a great experience to see what I could be doing a year from now.

The group traveled back to Bahir Dar on Monday where we stayed at a hotel.  In the afternoon we took a boat ride on Lake Tana, the start of the Nile River.  During this boat trip we were also able to see real, live, big, scary hippos!  How amazing!  That night a few of the PCVs who live around Bahir Dar came down to meet us PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees).  After dinner several of the PCVs took some of us PCTs to a local culture dance house.  The dance house featured a live band and singers with dancers performing traditional local dances from the Amhara region.  These dancers had control of every single muscle in their shoulders which enabled them to do crazy awesome things!  What’s better?  After the first 5 minutes I was asked to dance with the main dancer– a dance I had only ever seen for the first 5 minutes in the dance hall.  It was scary as anything, but so much fun!  By the end of the night, everyone was up, dancing and singing.

What’s Next

This Sunday I will move out of the King’s Hotel in Addis Ababa and move in with a host family outside of Asella.  During that time I will be focusing on language and culture.  My internet will be quite limited for the next 2 months, but I’ll try to keep in touch as much as I can.