As part of our summer projects, our group organized a development workshop at a local university in Addis called the YOM Institute of Economic Development. We began the planning process a few weeks before we left New York, but there was still a lot of work to be done once we arrived in Addis. Despite us all being overwhelmed by our first week of internships, daily Amharic classes, and the inevitable challenges that come about while adjusting to a new environment, everyone pulled through and delivered informative and engrossing presentations. I think we all deserve a collective pat on the back for that!
Though everything turned out great in the end, the preparation process proved a little stressful for my home-girl and project partner, Sarah, and I. We were given the task of teaching a seminar on graduate research writing. Our topic was thematically different from the rest of the group and we were scheduled at a different time, so our workshop seemed a little detached from the overall program. This, as well as other factors led to us feeling as though our session was being treated as an afterthought and we worried that no one would show up since it wasn’t mentioned as part of the main workshop. Nonetheless, we put it in the necessary work and came up with a presentation that we were pretty proud of. The turnout was far better than we expected, students came prepared and ready to engage! It was clear from their comments, that improving their writing skills was something that they truly cared about. I was glad that we could open the conversation, if only for an hour and a half.
All in all, for me, the experience was a lesson on being more assertive when I find it necessary. It’s never really been my style, I am very much a “go with the flow” kind of girl—it’s actually one of the qualities I cherish most. I think there’s something wonderful about being adaptable and letting life happen without feeling as though I have to be in control of everything—you never really can be after all. But, I realized that being forthright about feeling like our workshop was put on the backburner might have made the process more enjoyable for us and for the students we were trying to reach. Ultimately, I was reminded that sometimes, it’s best to just speak your mind, especially if it could potentially give you some peace of mind.