From the Editor
Janet Lee (Emdeber, 1974-76)
The Internet has served as a wonderful conduit of information for RPCVs from Ethiopia and Eritrea, be it on our Facebook Page or Peace Corps Ethiopia Facebook Page, blogs like The Herald, or individual blogs. We can keep up to date with Current or Returned Volunteers, news of interest about politics and development in Ethiopia, or projects and journeys of our fellow Volunteers. It has definitely made my job easier. But the best form of communication is still word of mouth. Let me know if you have a story to share. And as always, remember to “like” us on Facebook.
The Peace Corps Ethiopia Annual Report for 2014 has been published. It recognizes the long tradition of volunteerism in Ethiopia by including a brief history and photos of early Volunteers. There are currently 232 Volunteers serving in three sectors: Education, Health, and Environment. The average age of the Volunteer is 25. Females outnumber males 156 to 76 and the Volunteers come from 40 different states. They serve in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and S.N.N.P.R. (Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region). The report is filled with stories of the volunteers and the projects in which they work. Click on: Peace Corps Ethiopia Annual Report. Follow the link to download the report.
We are very fortunate to hear firsthand about the current status of Peace Corps Ethiopia in a recent interview with Country Director, Brannon Brewer. He most recently served in Ebola-stricken Liberia. Welcome to Ethiopia, Brannon.
As RPCVs we all remember being asked that dreaded question, “So how was Ethiopia?” Two years of your life. Two years that changed you forever. We recite our two-minute elevator speech as our listener’s eyes glaze over. Shayna Rosenblum (Frewyeini (Sicata) Tigray, 2012—14) told her story first on a blog (she is part of the new wired generation after all) and now as a post for The Herald in On Bravery. She is refreshingly honest making this a “must read” for all females considering volunteering for the Peace Corps. She, too, has been touched forever by her experience in Ethiopia and shares her experience through a series of short stories, some happy, some sad, but all very brave.
In Epistles and Stories by RPCVs from Ethiopia, Alan Smith (Debre Marcos Group XVI (1971–73); Vocational trainer of new Volunteers: Group XVII (Summer 1972) and Group XIX (Summer 1973) edits and compiles a sample of stories and letters from other RPCVs from the early years. Do you remember those little blue aerogrammes or venturing to Addis Ababa to make a phone call? If so, the stories captured here will resonate.
Hoyt Smith (Addis Ababa, 1962-65) reflects on his experiences as background for his book with Ted Vestal in Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia: The Story behind the Story. His book, Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia: Revisited was published this past year and is reviewed in our book section. Hoyt relates his experience as a Public Relations photographer for the early Peace Corps office and the opportunities that gave him. In this reflection, he includes photos not published in his book and speaks about the brief moments when he met HIM (His Imperial Majesty) Haile Selassie. If you have not yet had an opportunity to purchase his book, this is the time to do so. The photos are magnificent!
PCVs in Ethiopia
Many of us RPCVs have had a chance to return to Ethiopia and connect with current Volunteers, who have been both welcoming and curious about our experiences. We are fortunate in this issue to have three short pieces from current Volunteers in the field.
Deborah Massey (Injibara, 2012—. ) had experienced the normal set of frustrations in working on projects when she began a reading program. She describes her triumph in Welcome to Reading Outcome: Ethiopian primary school students excited to read! She was able to build upon the work of previous volunteers and set up a reading program at the Injibara Public Library that includes 150 books in two languages, math flashcards, a table where students can draw, card games and an educational video program in Amharic.
Evan Craig (Quiha 2014—. ) describes a transformational experience he had in working in Ethiopia in The Transitional Hive: A Quiha Story. Evan thought he had found a place for himself in Ethiopia by training local farmers how to set up transitional bee hives, only to discover that he had worked himself out of a job — the ultimate Peace Corps success story.
For the past few summers, PCVs in Ethiopia have been invited to assist in the Youth Solidarity and English Language Summer Camp. In English Only, Forrest Copeland (Abi Adi, Tigray 2012-14 and Addis Ababa, 2014- ) writes about his observations at this amazing summer camp. The goals of the YSEL-Ethiopia program are to improve English language skills, develop critical thinking, build leadership skills and create solidarity among the students from the diverse areas of Ethiopia. Volunteers with whom I have spoken have stated that this was a major highlight of their Peace Corps experience.
And Other News
The Board of the Ethiopian and Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers welcomes our newest Board Member, Karen (Preskey) Glover (Agaro, 2007-2009). Recently returned from her service in Ethiopia, she brings a contemporary perspective of the experiences of recent Volunteers and the networking capability to help the organization to thrive.
Gloria Gieseke Curtis (Asmara 1963–65), retired E & ERPCVs board member has a fundraising idea to supplement efforts for the RPCV Legacy program. If you are interested in traditional cultural objects or contemporary jewelry, check out Gloria’s article for more information.
Alice Gosak Gary (Harrar 1964-67) shares photos and stories from the Ethiopian III reunion in San Antonio. And in our Friends section, let us honor two requests for finding PCVs from long ago.
Book Reviews and More
And finally, my favorite section, Book Reviews and More. This issue has reviews for Hoyt Smith’s Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia: Revisted, Mellow Yellow – Dead Red a mystery by Sylvia Rochester (Jimma,1964-66), The Essential Guide to Tigrinya: the Language of Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia co-authored by Andrew Tadross (2011-13, Endodo and Mekelle, Tigray) and Zemene a documentary film.