(yeah, I know my post is a few days late – working internet in this city is a luxury not often experienced!).
It’s another beautiful day here in Nazaret (aka Adama). The breeze is cool and constant, and the sun is shining.
As I sit here on Sunday morning, my fourth Sunday in Ethiopia, I’m reflecting about our activity from this past Thursday. That day, we spent the morning with some students giving them career advice. We really had no idea what to expect, nor any idea what these guys expected of us. We did know that our audience was summer school students, orphans and disabled students so poor they stay at school because they have nowhere else to go.
I say “guys” in a gender-specific fashion, since there were 51 young men and no women. We did invite women, and there were supposed to be 10 of them, but they didn’t show up. I have no idea why, perhaps due to some broader cultural stigma, who knows.
After an overview of IBM’s CSC program and why we’re in Ethiopia, we broke up into 5 tables for some 15 minute “speed mentoring”. While my speed-mentoring cohort “Andrew” (a CSC member from France) and I thought we could teach these guys about resumes, interviewing, and digital “branding”, it didn’t take long to find out that here, access to common internet-age career networking is sparse. We mentioned LinkedIn and were met with some blank stares. Finally, one young man spoke up and said, in broken English, “In our school, there are only about one computers (sic) for one hundred students. “ Another told us that he was studying to be a lawyer. Andrew and I both immediately thought “here’s a young man who will soon be rich and be out of poverty”. Then he explained that in fact, his motivation was to help those poorer than himself with their legal problems. Wow. No matter how many times I teach something to someone else, I’m always amazed at how much I learn. There were too many other similar stories to write here, but to say I was humbled was an understatement.
Our host, Kalkidan, from Digital Opportunity Trust, arranged for refreshments, consisting of coke, fanta, and cookies. These guys took plates of cookies like they hadn’t eaten that day. In fact, they likely hadn’t. Once again, it was humbling.
After the program was finished, the students had an opportunity to write their thoughts on a poster. Do you ever wonder if you’re making a difference in something you’re doing? I do. But when read that poster, I didn’t wonder. And again I was humbled.
To the students at Adama University: one of you asked how Ethiopia can become a “developed” instead of “developing” nation. In that roomful of students, you have and are the answer – your country has a bright future, but it’s up to you to make it happen. You are the mechanical, electrical, civil engineers, the lawyers, the social workers. God Bless, and best wishes for your future. Thank you for letting us spend the morning with you.
I’ve posted it here and encourage you to zoom in and read the comments. Thanks also to my 11 CSC teammates and our DOT colleagues – you all did a great job!
Hello to all my family and friends back home. I miss you all.