Global Learning, International Exchanges

Dispatches from Ethiopia

A group of Northwest School students and faculty are spending two weeks in Ethiopia. While there, they will spend time with Lebawi, our partner school in Addis Ababa, and will also travel to the Hudad to see the progress on the school Bob Martin, Northwest's facilities manager until he retired in 2017, is building.

March 16, 2018

How would one know Deknish, more often known as Lucy, was not the oldest or the most complete fossil of her kind? Salem, a three-year-old child from 3.3 million years ago, is the most complete while many were discovered 1.1 million years before her. So, when the guide tackled on the reason of Lucy’s exceptional fame, it was unexpected but reasonable to find that, unlike other fossils, Lucy was discovered by an archeologist from the U.S., which then advertised the discovery during the Cold War as a showcase of scientific advancement. The guide at the National Museum was a prideful and passionate scholar. From prehistory to modern Ethiopia, he explained everything with specific dates, backstories and his love for his country. In modest showcases, relics of legendary kings and empresses were displayed. I once saw a picture of Haile Selassie sitting on his throne at a local Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle, so it was more unbelievable to see the actual throne in a touchable distance at the museum.

In the afternoon, we attended the last part of the science week at Lebawi Academy. A highlight was the knowledge bowl where eight Lebawi students and four NWS students participated, including Isobel and me. I anticipated questions to be difficult in knowing their intense standardized test system. I was lucky to contribute to my team in some questions, but I was in awe to see the depth of understanding in a wide range of STEM fields. Moreover, I was more in awe to see how two teams collaborated without hesitation or barriers. The Lebawi student sitting next to me was genuinely interested in the questions and many times asked to know about the different approaches Eve and I had to the questions. After the knowledge bowl, Jeff was honored for his dedication to Lebawi and its students with the Lebawi Merit Leadership Award. It was touching to see how much they appreciated Jeff and caught him totally by surprise. We ended the day just hanging out in the courtyard with Lebawi students, chatting. We’ve definitely made some friends and many phone numbers, instagrams, and emails were exchanged. It’s been a quiet evening in after a hectic Safeway (yes, Safeway) visit for dinner which included getting frisked down. It’s amazing how different little things like getting groceries can be in a different country. It is an early night for us as we get up at 5 am tomorrow to begin the second leg of our adventure!

Until then,

Hantong and Isobel

March 15, 2018

We started out the day after some of us joined in for a quick (but not easy) run in this high altitude. After breakfast we hopped on the bus and headed through the Addis traffic to our first stop: the Red Terror Museum. We learned about the derg period, a military dictatorship that resulted in genocide. We then met up with our friends from Lebawi and went to the Addis Abeba Museum next door. There we learned about the history of the city and how modern Addis came to be. After pizza, pasta, burgers, and table games, we headed over to the SOS children’s village. This organization creates a community for the orphaned children of Addis, providing them with a family experience that sets them up for the real world.

First we learned about the village, but things really got exciting when the kids got out of school. For three hours we ran, played, and connected with the many wonderful and energetic kids who, even with the language barrier, welcomed us with love. I (Kai) was fortunate enough to play soccer and ultimate with the kids. I was surprised that even the smallest of the kids could easily get by me and out do me in soccer. It was also very moving when the kids would express there emotions towards me, such as holding my hands or creating handshakes with me. At the end after a tiring soccer match, I gave the kids piggy back rides and swung them in circles. They all wanted a turn and by the end I was pooped out.

While these soccer matches were going on, I (Greta) spent time with some of the quieter children on the jungle gym. With shrieking and laughter we taught each other how to cartwheel and do different dance moves. I spent most of the afternoon hand in hand with my new friends being dragged through the village, and the end of our time at SOS came much too soon. In addition to meeting so many new faces, we were able to work together and grow closer with our Lebawi peers. I think all of us here agree this experience was one of the most impactful we have had so far, and that we will cherish and hope for more time and connections with these extremely special kids. After 20 minutes of goodbye hugs and handshakes, we finally had to leave the village and were off (after a quick water break) to our next adventure. To the end this perfect day, we had dinner and enjoyed live Ethiopian dance and music performances. After sharing injera and watching a couple different dances, a few of us decided to step out of our comfort zones and join in on the fun. Though none us were quite as graceful or experienced as the Ethiopian dancers, it was fun being able to learn something new. This perfect day has continued the amazing time we’ve had so far, and we are all excited for the next week and a half to come.

Greta and Kai

March 13, 2018

Yesterday, March 13, while everyone was asleep, we woke up early at 7:30 to go meet kids at Lebawi (our sister school). We started with a quick tour around the school followed by a community meeting where we were introduced to the students. The head of the school gave a very warm welcome speech to us and presented us with a gift that is a sacred plant to Ethiopia. At the school it was science week, so we all chose science teams that we were interested in and learned about what they had been working on. There were many options and it reminded us just like interest groups back in NWS.

We, along with Kai and Indalo, played soccer with Lebawi students after lunch it got very competitive. We managed to win and stay in for four rounds but in the end we had truly lost because we were all exhausted and gasping for air. It was a super fun experience getting to play with them because it made us realize you don’t need a lot to be happy. It was a small dirt field and everyone was laughing and having fun. After that we did another round of the interest groups and finished the day with an entire school environment just like ours. We said our goodbyes to most of the students but 5 of them came along with us to dinner.

Those are the students that will be coming with us up to the Hudad in a few days. I’m pretty sure we can say we all enjoyed interacting with the other students and just learning about what goes on in and around their school environment. Today was life changing and an incredible experience because we got to see the impact Northwest has had on Lebawi. It’s based on the same ideas as NWS and we can see that through environment and other things. It’s amazing to think that NWS morals are international and are represented halfway across the world.

-Sintayehu C. '20 and Ava L. '20