Always Alem

Looking back on my past two months in Ethiopia I can say it was truly an amazing experience.

Ethiopia is absolutely beautiful and a historically rich country. Living in Addis was easy, and

enjoyable. Everyday was a new and enriching experience. I wish I could have traveled more and

seen other parts of the country but I do feel like I know and experienced a deep sense of the

city and the people. Ethiopians are truly friendly and open people, proud of their culture and

their Africaness I always felt welcomed and comfortable. As a woman of color who travels a lot,

I’ve been to a lot of destinations where I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin, including cities and

towns in Africa. Instead of always being asked where I came from, or what ethnicity I was and

trying to explain my somewhat racial ambiguity I was called “sister” or told look Ethiopian and

that this was my country too.

Working at a local Ethiopian grassroots organization and seeing how it operates was

fundamental for my future goals as well as complimenting my classroom learning. What I can

take away from my internship is that I do have a large range of skilIs that can be used in

different settings, in combination with my varying interests I believe will open different doors.

I’m blessed to have been to one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and now have a larger

New School community filled with fellow humanitarians like myself.

I didn’t come to the country with a lot of expectations of how my organization would be, how

people would perceive me, or the challenges I would face. I knew from my past international

experiences that it’s best to see each person and place with fresh and unbiased eyes. I’ve come

away from this experience with a deeper sense of purpose for my future and excitement for the

upcoming semester with a few added friends.


1. Definitely do Sunday brunch at the Sheraton

2. Try to haggle with taxi drivers as best you can and use your Amharic. If there is a taxi

driver that you like, take his number and call when you need a ride to and from the

airport or to your internship

3. Bring contact solution if you wear contacts

4. Don’t plan on buying American branded clothes, they are way over priced

5. Do bring nice clothes you would go out in

6. Whatever you do, learn from my mistake and do not make an international call on your

iphone unless its an emergency, or put an Ethiopian sim into your iphone and buy credit.

It is much cheaper in the long run!

7. Buy an Ethiopian sim card to use internet when you like instead of having to hole up in a


8. There are two really good restaurants we enjoyed in Hiya Hulet that are not easy to find

the first time but once you get there is totally worth it.

-Addis Falafel (On the road to Bole, next to a hotel. If you take a mini van they

should stop in front)

-Addis Downtown (They have a website, look it up and just take a taxi the first


9. If you go to Lalibela, use Habtamu. We all did and had the best time. He is funny, kind,

caring, and knowledgeable. His email address is

10. Go to spas and salons, they are safe and inexpensive. Boston Day Spa is used by

Peace Corps volunteers, expats, and wealthy Ethiopians. #treatyoself