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Sunday
Aug262012

ONE Moms: Ethiopia and Global Citizenry

It's research time again. In fact, I do lots of research these days. When someone contacts me and asks that I endorse their product or if I'd like to review a book or visit the headquarters of their business, I spend time poking around their sites and looking into what they do. I'm an educator who works at a school where we focus on technology from the standpoint of being a global citizen and how we can learn more and help more and do more. Of course I like research.

Global citizenry. That is something I can get down with and something that is now more important for me than ever before.

I am telling you all of this for a reason. I am telling you this because my students learn how to do this every day. When they don't know something, we teach them how to look it up using primary sources and historical documents and their history books and their computers. These kids live online and are powered up daily. Educators do such a disservice to students when we ask them to turn it off, put it away, and power down. When my children want to know something they have mini computers at their fingertips with all the technology they have. This makes me feel lucky as a mom to be able to have given that to them. Lucky, but also essentially responsible for using what they research to make a difference as a change agent.

Back in the Spring I wrote about the little water warriors my teachers created when they researched the global water crisis as a part of the project-based learning initiative they were working on in 6th grade. When I wrote about it I hoped to showcase the amazing things going on in my school so I was pleased when the K12 News Network picked it up and liked what we were doing. That gave me a lot of encouragement to share more of that work. People don't always really know what's going on in schools except for what they hear in the media and that is usually negative. I don't even have to inscribe a tedious checklist because it's all been cataloged before.

Here, then, is what I've learned after getting an invitation to travel with the ONE Moms group to Ethiopia. As soon as the invite came I studied and researched and even asked one of my teachers, a multi-language speaker, to help me learn some Amharic.

  • Amharic, an Afro-Asiatic language, is the official language of Ethiopia, known formally as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia is located in the "Horn of Africa" on the far eastern part of Africa with bordering countries of Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti

  • The major religion is Christianity with about 1/3 Muslims as well as Ethiopian Jews

  • The roots of the Rastafari Movement claim Ethiopia as their homeland

  • Ethiopia used to be known as Abyssinia

  • Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia where there are over 80 nationalities speaking 80 languages

  • Around the world, women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force even though they get fewer opportunities to own farmland and get loans for crops. Small farmers are a solution to this.



Ethiopian woman by Steve Evans


What I hope to research while I'm there is what foods they eat regionally, how mothers struggle and support one another, and what message I can bring back first and foremost to my students but, also, to you. I want to hear their stories and I will tell some of them here. I'll be there to celebrate during the International Day of the Girl and I will, as the lead educator on the trip, aim to learn as much as I can about their education system. I feel fortunate that I work for a school district that supports me in endeavors such as this.

ONE Mom is a movement of moms everywhere using their extraordinary power to spread awareness for the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. It encourages those of us with a voice to use it on behalf of the world's poorest. They promote education, engagement, and activism. If you take a look at their partners, you won't be at all surprised that I've become involved with them because I'm acquainted with many of the partners on that list.

ONE.org is the parent organization of ONE Moms and it is NOT a charity. They advocate and campaign to raise awareness, but they don't ask for your donations (so, neither will I on their behalf).They appeal to world leaders on behalf of people who have been marginalized, forgotten, and ignored. The reason I agreed to work with them is precisely because they have stated "we're not asking for your money, we're asking for your voice".

Why am I telling you all this? Because you'll be coming with me. Your voices, your concern for humanity, and your own global citizenry. There is an infinite amount of things which I have yet to learn. What better way to teach students global citizenship than to become one? I'm working with some teachers right now to make connections to what our students will learn this school year as they take on land after learning about water last year. Maybe they'll connect with African students across the globe and find commonalities with them. Maybe they can study another culture as a part of their research skills.

Maybe you remember when I created a life list and said that I wanted to travel and secure my first passport?

I'll be using it to go to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in October.

Come along with me. We have more research to do and more voices to hear.

Photo credit to Baba Steve (he has an incredible gallery set that you can check out here)
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Reader Comments (11)

I think one of the things I'm most enjoying about these initial posts is learning something new about Ethiopia in each one. I didn't know it was the homeland of the Rastafarian movement. I can't wait to travel with you this fall.

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

To say that I'm excited for you is a gross understatement. 2012 *is* your year!

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Quite proud of you my dear sister! This is how we make a difference in the world! Thanks for including all of us and inspiring us to dream just a bit bigger for the world around us I am going to check out this organization and see how I can be of service. You see you have inspired me to action!

I am looking forward to your journey!

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLovebabz

Kelly,
This is awesome. My kiddos are from Ethiopia and the country holds a special place in my heart. We raise money every year on their birthday for fresh water programs in Ethiopia. It is an amazing country. I am fortunate to have traveled there twice. So excited (and a wee bit jealous--I long to go back).

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I just got goosebumps. Kelly, my husband and I have been sponsoring a child in Ethiopia for ten years - in Addis Ababa. I will be following along your journey with huge interest!

Wow. Power to you.

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteredenland

Betam Gobez (very good!)!!! Congratulations! I wish I could hop in your suitcase! Three of our kids are from Ethiopia and we've been there twice. If you would like to chat about Ethiopia before you go, let me know! I'm hoping to go back next year, and I look forward to reading about your experience there.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

So excited to share this journey with you. What an inspiration you are to me, to your kids and so many others. xo

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

A wonderful post, already you are educating me. I look forward to meeting you and travelling this amazing journey together. Mich x

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Twin Mum

[...] uh, AFRICA and ONE Moms. It still makes me giddy to think about this upcoming trip and I’m trying hard to learn some [...]

[...] Yet, here I am at 41 and I just obtained my first passport. Not long after I secured it I wondered if I would ever go anywhere. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an invitation to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia came from the ONE Moms campaign. Suddenly, I was going to go somewhere. I was going to visit a place that wasn’t surrounded by corn fields or amusement parks. I say that in the past tense, but really it is my future. This Friday I leave for somewhere far away, somewhere not in the country of my birth. [...]

[...] Yet, here I am at 41 and I just obtained my first passport. Not long after I secured it I wondered if I would ever go anywhere. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an invitation to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia came from the ONE Moms campaign. Suddenly, I was going to go somewhere. I was going to visit a place that wasn’t surrounded by corn fields or amusement parks. I say that in the past tense, but really it is my future. This Friday I leave for somewhere far away, somewhere not in the country of my birth. [...]

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