On Tuesday, February 7th the incoming VSO volunteers went to a reception held by the British ambassador at the British Embassy (more of a compound which even has a golf course). Diplomacy naturally included the consumption of wine and canapés. The Canadian and Kenyan ambassadors were also in attendance. You should have seen the look on the Canadian ambassador’s face when I told her I was going to the Afar region! The British Ambassador’s speech was fantastic, but the impromptu thank you remarks made by our fellow volunteer David were decidedly well-received.
The days have been spent in training workshops, and I’ve been doing a crash course in Amharic. Today’s workshops are all about the education sector in Ethiopia. Hopefully, I’ll be able to delay leaving until next Tuesday in order to visit the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for a briefing on their country development plan on Monday. As our training winds down, we venture farther out of the Red Cross compound and out onto the streets to purchase things such as telephone cards.
This is where we have been spending most of our time. Workshops have been on Ethiopian customs, history and geopolitics. There have also been sector specific workshops because half of the group work in the education sector and the other half works in the health sector.
A number of hours have been devoted to a crash course in Amharic. Our teacher Daniel has been fantastically patient and has taught us tons. Amharic is Ethiopia’s lingua franca and is spoken throughout the country in addition to the many local dialects specific to each region.
There is a lot of brainpower in the room, and studying Amharic puts it to the test.
On Thursday, February 9th a group of volunteers went out for dinner at an Ethiopian cultural restaurant. The food on offer was the finest of Ethiopian cuisine. One highlight was the look on Caroline’s face when she was told she was eating raw meat. Kitfo is a delicacy in Ethiopia and is heavily spiced, raw ground beef. It was pretty good. I had to try it. I had better not get any tapeworms.
Friday, February 10th is VSO Ethiopia Induction Day. Bethan (pictured standing) has come from the VSO London office to participate in our group’s induction.
Also participating in the Induction Day are the staff from the VSO Ethiopia office. Induction is stressed to VSO partner organisations by the VSO Ethiopia office because the the culture of induction is not commonly practised in Ethiopia.
Representatives from VSO Ethiopia’s partner organisations also joined the Induction Day. In this photo they are briefly working together before being paired off with the volunteer that will be joining their organisation.