Monday, December 6, 2010

Exploring Ethiopia at Olivet

President Samuel M. Gebru poses for a picture following
his presentation and is joined by Olivet Pastor Kris Gorden
and other members of the Ethiopia delegation.
Photo: Lori Bakken
By: Samuel M. Gebru
December 6, 2010

I went to Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota, yesterday afternoon to speak about the Ethiopian Global Initiative and Ethiopian history and culture. 

Having been invited to speak by members of the Olivet delegation to Ethiopia, I enthusiastically accepted the invitation as an opportunity to share the richness of Ethiopia. The group, composed of young and old, is a cross-section of various professions and interests.

My presentation, entitled "Exploring Ethiopia," gave the group an overview of the Ethiopian Global Initiative's history, mission and projects. I highlighted the importance of building a global coalition of like-minded thinkers who share one thing in common: an affection towards Ethiopia. 

Since the group is going to Ethiopia for the first time, with the exception of one adult who previously adopted two young girls from Ethiopia, I gave an overview of the country. Beginning from the geography, explaining that Ethiopia is about twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas, I took the group 5,000 years back to describe an ancient empire that controlled the Red Sea and traded with other empires as far as India and China. 

I also went over certain customs and traditions that Ethiopians consider to be very important; whether it is how to properly greet others or to partaking in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, customs are very important in Ethiopia. It was fun going over the practice to prepare food and insist that your guests eat, even if they claim that they are not hungry, which is also customary to claim you are not hungry even if you are! A sort of back-and-forth exchange ensues before the guest accepts the food.

Following my presentation, I had the opportunity to answer questions from the delegation members and I also asked them questions about their goals in going to Ethiopia. Their goals ranged from learning more about Ethiopia to finally meeting the orphans they have sponsored at the Kolfe Boys Orphanage in Addis Ababa for some years now.

Most importantly is their continued involvement in Ethiopia. I encouraged them to become Ambassadors of Ethiopia when they return to the United States; to share their experience with their families, Church community, colleagues and friends. Not only do they serve as Ambassadors of Olivet when going to Ethiopia but they return to the United States with a duel perspective.

They all agreed that at the end, we're all just that--Ethiopians.

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