Friday, August 09, 2013

Pre-camp thoughts...July 3rd, 2013

A soft summer rain falls here in Debre Zeyit, Ethiopia. The morning sounds have awoken me an hour earlier: the melodic chorus of birds, the staff going about their morning routine, and now most suddenly the pitter patter of rain. My window is open to allow the fresh morning air with all its earthy, African aromas to pour in my little room as the rain and the voices from across the way become amplified. This will be my home for the next month, the Jerusalem Child and Community Development Organization (JeCCDO) training site in Debre Zeyit, where I will be running the Youth Solidarity and English Language (YSEL) program—a youth leadership initiative for Ethiopian youth. It’s a new project, inspired by the success of the YSEL program in Afghanistan. Tomorrow, our 44 selected students will arrive in Addis, and Friday morning we will head down to camp for a month of magical learning. The summer camp idea is new for Ethiopia and so is taking a group of 44 students from all over the country, representing the diverse cultures that make up Ethiopia, and putting them together to learn from each other. Some people have their doubts, but I know this will be a great month. It must be. I am the director of the camp and I won’t let it fail. My staff is made up of Peace Corps Volunteer teachers, and 4 local youth who will be counselors. My trusty assistant Endalkachew is here to make sure everything runs smoothly. Kyle, my colleague from DC is also here to give support to the teachers and me. Slowly our team is coming together and vy the end of today/tomorrow we will be one happy family (and stay a happy family). This is my fifth time in Ethiopia; one time last April I came for a visit and see the sites, and the rest have been work trips. All building up to this YSEL camp, which commences on Friday. It is always a strange feeling to get to the start date of a camp, after so much planning and then realize it’s time to begin. I’m sure the next day or two will be crazy and for sure things will be nutty, but as I always say, it all works out in the end, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end. So good luck to me and my staff as we begin this great adventure!

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