by Myriam Alazar
I went to visit Ethiopia with my family this last summer of 2016. We visited different historical places in Ethiopia and had a great experience. What made my trip exceptional this year is the experience and satisfaction I got from tutoring the Wegene kids, for part of my stay. My sister and I drove with my mom, which took about two and a half hours, to the Wegene knowledge center. We tutored students ranging from seventh to ninth grade who are not fortunate to get the level of education they deserve at their age. The first day we met the students, they were so shy that they would not utter a word. We were concerned that it will not be possible to tutor these children in the two weeks, unless they opened up. We felt that these students needed more than just a pure academic help. We then started to have a general conversation with them about our experiences , and encouraged them to talk. We assured them that there was nothing wrong with making mistakes and that if one does not express their thoughts freely thinking they will be judged, they will leave themselves behind. We then started to ask them what they would like to do in the future. Some said they wanted to be an engineer, some said a medical doctor, others said a pilot, a journalist, and a nurse. It was great to hear all their different dreams. That day, the academic tutoring became more like an advisory session which encouraged them to speak up. I noticed a difference right away. The students started to open up and speak louder the next day. I felt that was a big breakthrough. After that we went to the center and started to teach them English, mostly focused on grammar and conversations.
At first I thought language would be a barrier but then we managed to communicate with a little help with my mom translating some of the conversation. In the short period I had, I tried to provide them the best I can. The only thing I wish is that I had a longer stay to tutor them more. This experience also made me realize how fortunate I am to get the best education, which I normally take for granted, and that I need to give back more. I hope I have another opportunity to tutor these kids again. I am grateful to my mom who was committed to drive me back and forth ,and provided me her time to experience this. I know it could be hard to sacrifice your time while you are traveling to another country but I encourage everyone to take the time out of their day, and help this cause. At the end of the day the difference you will be making is worth your time.