Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections from EGI's Boston Holiday Networking Mixer

Blayne Tesfaye introduces herself at the EGI Boston
Holiday Networking Mixer (Photo: Emily Weinstein/EGI)
By: Blayne Tesfaye
December 23, 2010

A few nights ago, a friend and I attended the Ethiopian Global Initiative (EGI) Boston Holiday Networking Mixer. As the new Assistant Project Manager of U.S. College Students for Ethiopia, an EGI project, I knew it would be a great opportunity to get to know other people who are interested in EGI’s mission. This was also an important night for me as it was the first time that I met EGI President, Samuel Gebru, in person (although we’d had a few Skype conversations!).

The mixer was held at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), an amazing venue. Having never been to an EGI event, I was not sure who would be there, but the group that attended was a great mix of motivated youth and well-accomplished professionals.

The Museum Director, Edmund Barry Gaither, started the event out with a moving introduction of Sam, and went on to say that many artists and African-American community members have a long sense of connectedness to the country of Ethiopia.

After Barry’s introduction, Sam spoke to us about the origins and aims of EGI. During his discussion of EGI, I couldn’t help but realize the immensity of the organization’s aims, and almost feel like they were a bit ambitious. I was quickly reassured, however, as Sam continued, and as I thought about my own engagement with EGI. I realized that EGI’s aims are ambitious, in a managed and coordinated way. In his discussion, Sam encapsulated what I think draws me most to EGI, which is the sense of drive and momentum.

Later on in the evening, I got the chance to speak to Barry more personally, and found out that he had obtained his MFA from the university I now attend. This of course, got us talking about the continuities and changes between then and now. I think one of those continuities is student interest in their communities and their drive to work across borders to further those interests.

I think it was in that moment that I really appreciated both the mixer and the aims of EGI the most. The mixer brought together a group of people from different backgrounds and generations to think about the common ideal of transformation of Ethiopia.

Blayne Tesfaye is a senior at Brown University and will be graduating with degrees in Africana Studies and Anthropology. With passion in human rights and public health she has extensive experience with nonprofits in the U.S. and Ethiopia. She is Assistant Project Manager of U.S. College Students for Ethiopia, an EGI project that provides college students the opportunity to intern or volunteer in Ethiopia with Ethiopian-led organizations.

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