By: Gedion Yitbarek
Friday, June 25, 2010
It’s undeniable truth that connection is the main ingredient of success. What struck me the most is realizing that we Ethiopians are weaker when it comes to having a business connection that can potentially build our future. We claim to have a tight social community better than the westerners; nevertheless, we are the poorest. Interestingly, I observed my environment to understand why we Ethiopians are poor financially while the rest of the world is living extravagantly. I realized that our community is not built on progressive interconnectedness but rather on a deterrent social network.
As a youth I remember spending hours with friends at one of the cafés in Addis talking about girls, brand new pair of shoes one of us was wearing and the rich people at school. Surprisingly, not a word about future business opportunities we could achieve together was mentioned. I did not even know their future ambitions; everyone was just living the moment. This is a deep rooted problem we all pass through as a youth in Ethiopia. Even worse, it follows us wherever we go unless some deviate from their nature to achieve different dreams or ambitions.
It’s true when they say the youth copies from their environment. If parents sit around coffee talking about nonsense stories, it will be foolish of us to expect the child sitting next to them to think about scientific inventions and developing career oriented connections in the future. Indeed Ethiopians help out each other when one is in trouble but we are still far behind when it comes to working together and prospering. There is no trick to alleviating this problem other than believing in each other and studying each other’s abilities; then follows interdependence for a common success. It’s unbelievable to see what friends can do if they are understood well to manifest their abilities.
There is a saying in Ethiopia when a person gets a highly competitive job through a connection: “bezemed new yegebaw.” People sometimes think that this happens only in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, that’s how the world operates. Even in the most prosperous country United States of America, President Obama filled up the staff at White House through his connections: “bezemed”. The president of my school was appointed by the former president: “bezemed.” This is how the world operates and we should all accept it and learn to build a career oriented connections. It will be imperative for us to stop copying our faulty predecessors who speak nonsense over coffee and learn to ask one another how we can be additions to our success.
Finding a job shortly after my arrival to the states was a miracle. Lack of experience in collaboration with difference in culture made it almost impossible for me to find a job for the first few months. Finally I took my brother’s advice and landed on a job through the people I know. Filling up an application and waiting for a response couldn’t take me anywhere. Rather asking people for a reference was the only way to find my first entry level job. This is the power of making a connection we all should not neglect.
All in all, besides the charitable work Ethiopian American Youth Initiative strives to accomplish, it also can be a medium for the future leaders of Ethiopia to get connected. The fact that we all commit ourselves in the process of prospering together signals our determination to attaching ourselves with the progressive interconnectedness of our society. We can grow through this organization and build our career while helping the unfortunate children and women suffering in Ethiopia. Let us spread the words to peers that we members of the EAYI support humanity while helping our ill social network heal.
Gedion Yitbarek is a Chemical Engineering major at the University of Oklahoma and is a member of the Ethiopian American Youth Initiative.