Rediate Molla | Columbus, OH – Economics and Public Policy, 2018
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Rediate Molla is a sophomore studying Economics and Public Policy. This summer, she will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to work with a local NGO in hopes of addressing the educational equity issues that face the city’s burgeoning orphan population. She also anticipates that the time in her homeland will allow her to study sustainable service models as well as non-profit management.
While I was getting rid of some old files from my computer (don’t really think I need my AP Gov term paper anymore), I found this note that I wrote on the plane to Addis Ababa. It’s insane to think that it’s been a month since I wrote it, yet I can still vividly remember how scared I was at the prospect of spending considerable time in a “home” that was no longer familiar. My family and I left Ethiopia when I was 10, and a decade later, I returned to my native land to be an SAT tutor for Selamta Family Project, an organization that provides permanent homes for orphans and disenfranchised women. I was excited for trip, but, um, also..I hate change. A lot. The ambigious. The unknown blah blah blah. I didn’t know how much of my routine would change, and I was especially worried that I was not prepared for this change. Accordingly, on the way to Ethiopia, I decided to document all of my freakouts on my iPhone as a way to process what I would experience in the subsequent weeks. Now that I have finished my work at Selamta, the memo (in italics) also presents an excellent opportunity to reflect and “answer” some of my concerns. Join me!
I’m writing this note on the plane to Addis Ababa. We have two hours left till touchdown at Bole International, and I’m really, really scared.
Mature Rediate, the Rediate who is totally and completely okay with flying for 12 hours — alone — away from Mom, Dad, Beza, and Mahlet in the U.S., the Rediate who is not bothered by the prospect of spending three and a half weeks in the country she hasn’t visited in almost ten years, the Rediate who loves adventures, change, and being independent, is brimming with excitement for this trip. It’s also important to note, however, that Hysteric Rediate is my modus operandi, and she needs an outlet to freak out a little bit before Mature Rediate takes over. As such, here are some thoughts that Hysteric Rediate has been having at 4am as she flies over the Nubian Desert.
Um, What the heck am I doing.
Have I brought enough money?
You did! The exchange rate is very friendly. So friendly, in fact, that you had enough money to buy delicious smoothies everyday for less than a $1.
Does my Amharic (national language of Ethiopia) make it painfully obvious that I’m a foreigner?
Surprisingly, no! You struggled a little bit with holding conversations, but generally speaking, people from Addis were very impressed with your Amharic, given that you had been abroad for more than ten years. You still can’t read or write, which kinda sorta made you an object of ridicule, but we won’t talk about that right now. (But seriously. You need to practice. )
How am I going to help? Am I going to be the girl-goes-to-Africa-to-change-her-profile-picture stereotype that my friends and I have ridiculed extensively?
This is a tricky one. I think Past You and Future I can definitely agree that three weeks cannot create transformative impact, but I also think that did not preclude you from creating a difference. You taught two SAT classes every week, and you helped your students at Selamta develop their own strategies to do well on the reading section. You also taught an internet safety course, and though some of the content admittedly does not work outside of a western context (a little hard to talk about downloading illegal movies when the internet connection is 2G at best), I think your lessons on good passwords were particularly useful, and so were the ones on internet cafe etiquette. I also think that because you were cognizant of the fact that you’re not going to change the world in three weeks, you had realistic expectations for your time at Selamta, and your work, given your expectations, was effectual.
I haven’t slept in the past 24 hours and this jet lag is going to huuuuuuuuuuuuurt.
Note to self: next time you board a 15 hour international flight, please make sure to sleep. Please.
Man I’m going to miss hot showers.
YOU. HAVE. NO. IDEA.
Have I brought enough books for the kids?
I wouldn’t call three Junie B. Jones books “enough,” so not exactly. But the kids loved the coloring pencils, fairytale books, post-it notes, highlighters, and socks! The frantic pre-trip sweep of the $1 bin at Target was worth it.
What if the kids don’t like me?
They loved connecting with someone from the mysterious land of America, and they especially loved that you spoke Amharic well…ish. They asked loads of questions about the country, from “how frequently does the power go out?” to “do you really have to pay to go to college?” and even “is the Illuminati in control of the government?” You know, the usual inquiries.
Have I brought enough money?
Wow you were really stressed about the money thing.
Wait, Zewdie said power goes out a lot in Addis; have I brought enough reading materials?
No, you did not bring enough reading materials. In the future, just note that you might get a little tired of a ballroom dancing documentary if that’s the only form of entertainment that you bring.
Wait, no, have I brought too many reading materials? What if I’m too buried in my books?
What if I’m so busy that I don’t have time to call my parents and they get really worried?
Thanks to Viber, you were in contact with them daily! You can never be too busy for mom and dad 🙂
What if no one picks me up at the airport?
Ok you need to stop.
I CANT CALL ANYONE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHAT IF NO ONE PICKS ME UP AT THE AIRPORT AND I CANT REACH THE APPROPRIATE PARTY AHHHHHHH
I’m done with you.
What if all my belongings get stolen? What if I get sick? Like really sick and die?
This is getting a little ridiculous.
Have I brought enough money?