It looks like it’s good-bye VSO Ethiopia and hello to secondary history teaching in Khartoum, Sudan. It is never easy leaving a place. Where would I be without my driver Desalegn? We were encouraged to come to our placements and find metaphorical penguins. In Cuso pre-departure training, two cultures were presented as icebergs because icebergs are largely hidden from view. A penguin would be able to come to the surface and act as a guide through Ethiopian culture. I’m not sure if this means that I have to become a penguin too. Everyone calls Desalegn my driver here, but there is no vehicle involved. Everyone recognises the guidance he has given me, and that generosity has earned him the nickname. What Cuso termed as ‘penguins’ the people here term as ‘drivers’. Either way, they are invaluable.
There are other drivers that do not carry the moniker, though. Desalegn, Ousman and Eshetu have made a social life possible. They introduced me to the DSTV house. It shows Premier League Football and serves cold beer. It’s a rare combination in these parts. They also introduced me to everyone in the town, so that now when I walk the streets it feels like I was born and raised in these parts. It’s a complete flip from 6 months ago, and it’s thanks to the efforts of these people to go around town, tell people who I was, and get them to accept me. Solomon, Abdul Moujid, and Ambachew have made work life run smoothly. Solomon and Ambachew are department heads and help me navigate the College. Abdul Moujid is my counterpart in coordinating the ELIC, and has been enormously helpful in getting the English conversation classes to take root at the College.
This experience was made possible because of the kindness of those around me here. Asaita is an isolated town, but it has not felt so isolated in recent months.
to be continued…