Living in Ethiopia for the past two months has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As an American with Ethiopian heritage, it has made it even more personal. Getting to see the land where my parents, grandparents, and ancestors grew up has been a very special part of my work abroad this summer.
Prior to coming for this summer research opportunity, I had only been to Ethiopia once, right before I started high school. This is my first time experiencing this country as an independent adult. Not only this, but I was also able to go live and work in the small city where my late maternal grandfather was raised. Harar, Ethiopia is a small, quiet town in the eastern region of the country. Tucked away in the Ethiopian Highlands, it is known for being a city of peace and acceptance of everyone.
During my first weekend in Harar, some of my co-workers and I went on a walking tour of the historic part of the city. Our tour guide took us to the local markets, down the narrow, old streets of the city, and even into a traditional Harari house. We also went into a tiny museum where we saw old pictures of what Harar used to be. It was an amazing experience being able to walk the same streets my grandfather walked and be the first in my family to experience the culture of his city.
As I reflect and write this, I realize how grateful I am to have these wonderful memories and how lucky I feel to have had the opportunity to do work that I love in a city that means so much to me and my family.