Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Recently, our state University held their annual "Culturefest".  It is run annually by international students and is an attempt to share and show the culture of their home. It is a large university and I would guess there were maybe 20-30 different countries represented. (Sadly, there were usually only 1 or 2 students from each country).

This event is put on by the Department of International Students and each of the students is strongly encouraged to participate. It is a 3 hour event hoping to encourage the white canvas to experience a little flavor and color.  It isn't an overly impressive, gaudy expensive affair. It is completely run, and organized by students (which of course change every year). Before Teg came home I looked forward to this every year- and thought "Wow. What a great thing to experience when he is home." 

At EC ET Culture Camp in NH this summer -with an Abatee from Care Center

As we walked around this year. I stopped at the African Students Allaince table and started asking some questions about the photos. She didn't know where they were taken. I looked at them closer and said.. "Ghana?"  She shrugged, "I dont know really."

A 'woman' stood next to me. (She looked 14 but was carrying a baby on her hip) I said hello. And looked closer- she wasn't Ethiopian- but... something... somewhere close- "Sudan?" I asked.

"Yes. Yes!"  She looked at Teg, tightly buckled in stroller, "Is he Somali? or Ethiopian?"

"Yes, Ethiopian! He is Wolayta." (We often get the Somali question as our state has a the second highest population of Somali - outside of Somalia itself. I should add- we ONLY get questioned by folks actually from Africa.)

We talked for a bit. Exchanged names and emails to stay in touch. She offered to attempt to braid Teg's hair.

As we stopped to watch some of the dancing and singing perfomances- I looked around at the students who were absolutely reveling in the chance to show off their stuff. Admiring and honoring their friends work. It seemed so new. Such a rare experience for them that it was extra special. I was reminded where we live and I was sad.

One Moon Ethiopia. Together sharing food laughter dance song and joy- and INJERA!

And then immediately realized how lucky we are. Teg and I. Because this. This 'culturefest'- in truth was anything but. And yet, in the past year (-) we have experienced great culture of our own. Many Many Many Many opportunities to share with Ethiopians and Ethiopia-ness!  We've had some real experiences with young adoptive families and adult Ethiopian Americans. We are lucky. We may have to drive and have overnights in hotels to join in the fun- but we are lucky. Sometimes it is hard and difficult to put ourselves in that place- it must be done purposefully- but it is always worth it.

That one 3 hour event- was likely the only chance those students will have to show and share their culture until the event comes around again next year. I ached for them. And rejoiced for us.

Celebrating Meskel


Liz said...

Love that last picture!

And love that you've had so many opportunities to soak up the Ethiopia-ness...it's truly something amazing!

Gretchen said...

That sounds wonderful! And like LOTS of fun!!!

kn said...

Loveliness! It is a joy isn't it.

Love love love the last photo!!