by: Meseriate Kristos
We all get caught in the career path, and somewhere, somehow, we forget to look back, walk back, pick up a fellow traveler and let him lean on our shoulders.
I could find little that I would consider exceptional or worthy of mention above and beyond what my peers have encountered in their lives. I went through the same culture shock as everybody else, caught the same grief for being in a foreign land at times, but also was pleasantly uplifted by the attitude of most of my hosts in this adopted land that I, alas, will never truly consider home, for I hark for those distant quiet shores wherein lie my battle weary ancestors.
I did the college thing, part time jobs, spent humid summers, freezing winters marveling at the extremes and pounding out last minute papers, mowing grass, moving offices and even writing parking tickets for the police.
I was inspired by some of what I had seen, saddened by others, learned patience is a virtue, not a liability, found I am poorer for lack of it at times. Having grown steadily older in my youth, I am learning, evermore, that those wiser give berth to youth, not fearing its intensity, but knowing soon enough their steady pace will catch up with its flagging passion at journeys end. These things I have learned and am still learning, perhaps, ever stubborn, the hard way.
I don't know whether these are lessons of a foreign land, or of my age or what every young man or woman comes to realize as they approach the physically challenged age of 37, but I know I have learned them.
Enough maudlin mood talk, I apologize for the lava-lamp lectures here. I did want to write about something unique and uplifting and so decided to briefly relate to your/my readers about something I have been involved in for the past eight months. Be warned, get your corny-dictionary out because I am pulling out all the stops here and cracking my fingers, (ouch!) to play on your heartstrings.
This is a nice story, a story of triumph, maybe you won't think its a big deal, maybe you will. It had been a sobering experience for me, and quite a humbling one at that, dealing with these "kids". I employ the word "kids"
without malice, they are in every sense, except perhaps age, my peers.
Where I am here to better my lot, they are here to study and bring the fruits of their labor to their/our people so in some quarters they can even be considered my betters. I would certainly not begrudge them that distinction..
I was able to greet the HaileSelassie I Fund Scholars in person when they first arrived here, in these United States. I had not known what to expect from the Crown Council, the Ethiopian Body which secured and administers the "Pacem en Terris" awards through the HaileSelassie I Foundation for Ethiopia's Children in Need. (http://www.ethiopiancrown.org/charity.htm).
The Pacem en Terris or "peace on earth" program brings students from such regions as Ireland, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Jordan, and Palestine to name a few where strife, famine and disease pose constant and everyday threats. The students, once here, face the everyday challenge of academia and coming of age together. In overcoming these and other challenges, an unconscious bridge gaps the divides of faith and culture. A faceless statistic no longer, ones culture and heritage are better understood, what
drive a peoples ambition better realized, and events that shape the world better appreciated.
HSF I Scholar Shakir Fuad Mohammed in the oval office meeting
with President Clinton
Within days of expressing my interest via e-mail, I found myself at
Pittsburgh's International Airport, on my way to Laroche College,
home to the "Pacem en Terris" program. And so, along with the
Co-chairs of the Foundation, I was whisked off to our destination by
Monsignor John Kerr, the affable "Secret Weapon" of the Pacem.
It has been 8 months since my initial pilgrimage to Pittsburgh, 8 months into the program for the HSF I Scholars. As much as I had helped, and I have really not done much (about a couple of hours work a week) I find myself oddly exhilarated at the prospect of a visit, a phone call or an e-mail from the friends I have come to know helping with this program. I feel part of a larger enterprise that is bearing fruit.
Young Ethiopians that would otherwise have no access to this brilliant concept and to the educational opportunities are being groomed for leadership. Scholars, Educators, Scientists from Ethiopia and otherwise are being approached to volunteer as guest speakers at functions an events. A much-maligned Ethiopian institution is turning a new leaf and realizing a potential within itself.
And as to the Scholars, just think of the average Ethiopian family, having, conservatively, 20-30 immediate and extended family members (siblings, uncles and aunts and their siblings). The ripple effect of the change in the lives of these 11 young men and women will eventually affect at least 200-300 Ethiopians for the better, God willing. But that does not even begin to touch on the potential benefits to our country. We could see the birth of our very own Einstein, Mozart, Fermi or Picasso or from our own history another Taitu, Yared, Zera Yacob, Gebre-Kristos or Aklilu Habte-Wold.
Hailing from all over Ethiopia, Abraham, Amin, Ana, Endrias,
Ermias, Henok D., Henok G., Kokeb, Mestewat, Shakir, Tiliksew,
and those who did not make it for various reasons, Hiywote,
Kidest, Wubshet, Yemesrach and Tigist are the promise, tomorrow's
dawn, being vested today.
Addis Abeba, Dire Dawa, Maryland, Shire-Endaselassie, Minnesota,
Awasa, Harerge, Germany's loss in these young people leaving, is
Ethiopia's gain. They are a cacophony of energies, faiths,
sounds, experiences, shades and laughter…mostly laughter. Intoxicating, young, watch-out-world-here-we-come laughter. It is a credit to their able Ambassadorship and academic performance that the Haile Selassie Fund was awarded 10 more scholarship slots.
Art by brothers Ermias and Endrias Hailu HSF I Scholars.
Recipients of the Pacem awards serve their respective country in
areas such as Water Resource management, Information Technology
Development and Health Services. For our African continent, the valuable skills and even more valuable connections these scholars bring is an extremely valuable commodity and an investment that will endure in the long run.
Some of the HSF I students with Worldspace CEO Noah Samara and
Friends at the AnnualFund-raising Banquet
A month ago I helped out at the Pacem Annual Fund Raising dinner. The event was well organized and the student body, well represented. The guest speaker Ato Noah Samara of WorldSpace (http://www.worldspace.com) remarked on the similarity between his companies core values and Pacem's
principles, the promotion of global understanding. The honored guest and Patroness of the Pacem Program, Hon. Dr. Janet Museveni spoke eloquently and simply as to its roles in improving the lives of not just the citizens of countries like Uganda, but equally those of the citizens of the United States
and other developed countries.
It is in our nature to reflect over the past and consider what our future holds. In looking back at my life and career paths I have taken, I see none of the little I have done worthier either of mention or consideration compared to this: giving a little back.