Thursday, March 6, 2008
Ethiopia In Their Own Words
A month or so ago I wrote about how we learn culture. I believe that we learn it from the inside out. I think culture is how we feel and what we internalize about our traditional experiences and not the traditions themselves. In my search, I've wanted to hear Ethiopians talking about Ethiopia, the immigrant experience and growing up Ethiopian American. Today I found two articles in the SEED Newsletter that you might find intresting. SEED is an organization that discusses issues related to the Ethiopia and the diaspora.
What Motivates You to Take Pride in Being Ethiopian American and Giving Back to Your Community? --By Natnaelle Erymas
As an Ethiopian American, I pride myself on being a member of a community centered on family togetherness and cooperation. However, in American society, it is out of character for people to care for those that are not apart of their immediate family. This concept of “the immediate family” has polluted American culture for years. Today, we find Americans placing grandparents in nursing homes, we hear about the astounding divorce rate among married couples, and we see cousins who become so estranged that they can barely recognize each other on the street. Due to images the media perpetuates about what a family should be, I grew up thinking a family should only consist of a mother, a father, and a few siblings. Unfortunately as a result of these negative images, as a child I grew up ashamed to have such a large family. Knowing that my Ethiopian heritage was the reason for why I had a large family made me think that being Ethiopian was strange, and that having a family that was overly involved in my life would hurt me in my path toward success. However, I can proudly say that my assumptions were wrong. Read More
Experience That Shaped My Life -- By Michael Getachew Tesfaye
I never knew there could be so many things to do with mud. When I was a little boy my parents had this great idea of sending me to far away Ethiopia to study our language and my ancestral heritage. They thought that if I traveled by myself and spent a whole summer with other seven year olds playing with mud, I would pick up their native tongue in no time. All my relatives denounced the idea of sending a seven year old to a foreign country on his own. I loathed the idea of going to Ethiopia myself. I had heard there was no cable television, no Power Ranger toys, and if I wanted a cup of milk, I would have to get it straight from the cow. I protested vehemently, but my parents prevailed. In the summer of 1996, off I went to Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, I stayed with my aunt and uncle. For the first few days, I kept to myself. I stayed in my room, waiting for my parents to call so that I could talk to people who spoke English. By the fifth day, though, I spoke enough Amaharic (the Ethiopian language) to venture outside to play the game of marbles called “biy” with the neighborhood kids. The marbles were made of dried mud hand rolled in ashes. The game is played by knocking one marble with another to direct the target marble into one of six holes. The players would move from hole to hole, and the player who got the marble in and out of every hole first, won. I quickly learned to play “biy,” and in the process, I became one of the gang. Read More